7 Things You Don’t Need to Take on a Day Hike

things you don't take on day hike

As summer is coming to a close, you should probably snag all the hiking time you can in this moderately warm weather. Keep things simple and light. This list will help you narrow down your pack and gear and improve your hiking experience. Some unneeded items become second nature due to bad habits. Or, as much as we want to pack all of our cool gear and gadgets, these items are not always necessary either.

Do keep in mind that gear always varies depending on the terrain, weather, and season. This article will focus on a day hike in favorable weather. A day hike is defined as a hike that does not last more than a day; it typically ranges from 5 to 15 miles.

Now, we all know what we should bring but not necessarily what we shouldn’t. Check this list for my opinion on what not to bring on a day hike.

1. Cotton clothing

Cotton is not the fabric for hiking because it is not quick-drying, can be heavy, and can hold odors. Leave the cotton clothing at home and wear polyester or wool.

2. Expensive jewelry

Expensive jewelry or accessories are not the things to take into the woods. Your spouse would be pretty mad if you lost your wedding ring on a cold day of hiking. Your expensive items are best left at home.

Ant carrying jewelry

3. A ‘back-up’

There are only two things you should never skimp out on and those are food and water. Other things are not so necessary to carry a ‘back-up’ of if you are only going on a day hike. DO carry an extra pair of socks but when it comes to other things like a backup knife or even your tent for ‘just in case’ is not totally necessary.

4. Gear you don’t use

If you are simply going to use your trekking poles as a backpack accessory than you probably don’t need to lug them around. Give your pack a ‘shake down’ by evaluating everything you put into it. Hold each item and define its purpose. Ask yourself, “do I really need this?”

5. Large liter pack

I know your 60-liter backpacking pack is pretty awesome but it isn’t necessary for day hiking. With large packs, they are meant to store weight and this is how they fit the best. A light, larger-liter pack could sit uncomfortably on your body. Invest in a smaller liter pack from 20-30 liters like the pack pictured below.

small pack while hiking mountain view

6. Stove

Ditch the stove for the day. Taking a stove entails you will have to lug around stove accessories such as a pot and gas. Save on cook time by consuming nuts, granola, cheeses, dried meats, and crackers or bread products. My favorite hiking foods are avocados and olives.

7. Alcoholic beverages

I know it sounds amazing to have a beer at the summit but, if you aren’t careful, alcohol can dehydrate you and impair your motor skills. Also, those beers are just extra weight. Choose to enjoy a cold brew at home after the hike instead.

beer in hand mountain view

8. Food Packaging Waste

Instead of carrying around plastic trash, cardboard boxes, or aluminum cans, condense your food into plastic baggies to keep things organized and to reduce the risk of trashing nature with pesky plastic wrappers.

granola bar wrapper


When it comes to hiking, we should always apply the principle of ‘hike your own hike’ in the terms of Leave No Trace policies. You can carry whatever you want but these tips will help you lighten your load on your day-long excursions.

What do you recommend to leave at home on a day hike?

Madison Dragna

Madison Dragna

Madison is a long distance hiker and devoted yogi. She completed the Appalachian Trail in 2013 and Corsica's treacherous GR 20 in 2014. When she's not traveling, she enjoys life as a freelance writer in Fort Collins, Colorado.
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Madison Dragna
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