Day Hiking Essentials: A Guide for Beginners – Hydration and Nourishment

Day hiking means you must be self-sufficient when it comes to water and food. When you trek off into the backcountry for hours, or for the entire day, it’s important to fuel your body efficiently. Proper hydration and nourishment will give you the energy needed to truly enjoy your hike and to feel good afterwards.

On very short hikes, I carry a hydration backpack with a 2-liter water bladder; however, on day hikes, I prefer using Smart Water 1-liter bottles rather than the water bladder. I am able to more effectively track my water consumption when I drink from the bottle, and it’s easier to shove bottles into outside pockets rather than try to fit a water bladder inside my full pack. The Smart Water bottles are sturdy and hold up well on the trail. Additionally, I carry a Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System with me, and the Smart Water bottle fits the water filter perfectly.

You should be able to tell from your shorter hikes how much water you tend to drink while hiking, so you’ll know how much you need to carry with you on a day hike. I tend to go through about a liter per hour when it's hot outside. I always carry one more bottle than I think I will need, unless I’m going to be close to a water source and can use my water filter if I need it.

I always check ahead to see what types of water sources may be available in the area; however, it’s important to remember that you will never know until you get there whether a water source is truly available and accessible. Additionally, always carry a backup for your backup. If my Sawyer fails me for any reason, I can always use my LifeStraw. Make sure you get these items out and feel comfortable using them prior to hitting the trail.

Building breaks into your hike is a nice way to refuel, relax, and take in the beauty all around you. I always carry snacks, as well as my propane burner stove with some dehydrated meals. Bagels with peanut butter, trail mix, granola bars, protein bars, almonds, jerky, M&Ms (or another hard-shelled candy that won’t melt easily), and Gatorade/Powerade are all great snack options. My partner and I love to picnic on the trail, so we use our hiking stove and cook up dehydrated meals from Mountain House whenever we have time.

Here’s what we use for cooking gear (all purchased from Amazon):

  • MSR Pocket Rocket Ultralight Backpacking and Camping Stove Kit
  • MSR Universal Canister Stand
  • TOAKS Titanium Long Handle Spork with Polished Bowl
  • Jetboil Jetpower Fuel
  • Candle lighter (for its long neck)

It’s always best to pack more food than you think you'll need in case you have an emergency and stay on the trail for longer than anticipated. Also, be sure to practice assembling and using your cooking gear before you hit the trail.

We’ve tackled thirst and hunger, so let’s shift our focus to the various Tools and Comfort items you’ll want to consider packing.

Continue reading:

Day Hiking Essentials: A Guide for Beginners

Day Hiking Essentials: A Guide for Beginners – Attire

Day Hiking Essentials: A Guide for Beginners – Backpacks

Day Hiking Essentials: A Guide for Beginners – Hydration and Nourishment

Day Hiking Essentials: A Guide for Beginners – Tools and Comfort

Day Hiking Essentials: A Guide for Beginners – Safety and Emergency Gear


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