Day Hiking Gear List for Beginners Over 40 to Get Active

Last Updated on June 24, 2019 by Ellen Christian

This day hiking gear list is perfect for when you just want to get away for a day. I love hiking but I am not up for a weekend hike. When I go for a hike, I plan on being gone an afternoon or a day at the longest. That’s about all my stamina and my schedule allows for. Of course, I want to be prepared but I need to be mindful of weight and comfort as well.

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Day hiking gear list for beginners over 40

Day Hiking Gear List

So, what’s on my day hiking gear list? I only hike in the warmer months. In Vermont, it’s just not a fun time to hike when it’s snowing or frigid outside. My list of hiking essentials takes my climate preferences into account. If you plan on hiking in a snowstorm, you’ll want to adjust my list accordingly.

Day hiking for beginners can mean a simple afternoon hike on a local hiking trail or it can mean an all-day hike in more challenging terrain. Here are a few hiking essentials for beginners no matter what terrain you’ll be hiking.

  • Remember to bring a map or a compass if you know how to use one. Stick to the trail. Getting lost is no fun for anyone.
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses and a sun hat are essential to protect yourself from sunburn and heatstroke.
  • Extra clothes. Dress in layers. When it’s hot, take one off. When it’s cold, put one on.

Day hiking gear list for beginners over 40

  • Basic first aid supplies. You’ll at the very least want bandages, first aid cream, an anti-histamine, insect repellent, and Kinesiology tape. A sports towel is a great way to clean up on the trail. And, unlike disposable wipes, there’s no trash to deal with.
  • Fire and light. You may plan on being home before dark but it’s better safe than sorry. Remember waterproof matches and a flashlight.
  • Food and snacks. Think high protein food like beef jerky, nuts, seeds, and protein or energy bars. You’ll also want to add in some high-calorie snacks like trail mix.
  • Water and a water bottle. You should never go on a hike without water and a water bottle. Even if you’re hiking in a populated area, you cannot count on finding bottled water or water fountains. It’s best to be prepared.
  • Emergency shelter is an important essential to add to your list. If you don’t want to pack along a full-size tent, consider a tube tent instead.

Day hiking gear list for beginners over 40

What to bring on a short hike

After you’ve added the basics to your backpack, what else do you need to bring along with you on a day hike? A pair of trekking poles helps reduce the shock your joints take as you hike. As someone over 50, I cannot tell you how important it is to bring a set of these along with you.

You may also want to plan for after hike or during hike recovery. If you’re new to hiking, it’s tempting to keep pushing when you should slow down. A massage stick roller is a handheld, easy-to-maneuver massage tool that targets tight muscles for reduced pain and improved mobility.

Day hiking gear list for beginners over 40

Ultralight day hiking checklist

If you’re a minimalist and you want to keep your gear as light as possible, these essentials should weigh about three pounds or less not including your backpack and the clothes on your back.

  • Map
  • Water bottle
  • Basic first aid kit
  • Lightweight tarp for shelter
  • Trekking poles
  • Energy bars
  • Sun hat and a small tube of sunscreen and insect repellent
  • Lighter or waterproof matches
  • Lightweight flashlight

If you have the room and aren’t concerned about the weight, I always bring along my cell phone to take photographs, a book to enjoy during the quiet moments, and a guide to wildflowers. Remember that if you bring along your pet, you need to plan for their food, water, and first aid needs as well.

I hope this day hiking gear list has given you an idea of what you need to start with. If you want the gear above, click here to visit our partner store ProSource. Check out my summer hiking tips for a look at the trail I hike.

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