Top 10 Hiking Essentials for Summer Day Hikes in the Mountains

Tired of being surrounded by blistering hot pavement in the city? Get up to the mountains for natural air conditioning on the trails. Here in Colorado, front range city dwellers escape to the mountains to cool off and soak up some natural beauty. While weather along the front range mountains can be extremely variable, these top ten hiking essentials will work for any mountainous area.   1. Water: Especially at higher elevations and on warm sunny days you will need to drink more water than usual. Generally people need to drink 2-3 liters (64-96 ounces) of water in a day, but with physical activity and arid warm weather I would recommend doubling your typical daily water intake. Here’s a nifty Hydration Calculator from CamelBak to figure out your exact water needs. To carry around all that water I use a 3 liter CamelBak Reservoir and depending on the length of the hike a liter in a Nalgene or two. 2. Daypack: Well you need something to put all of your equipment in right! Preferable day packs include
  • a hydration reservoir pocket
  • multiple compartments for different bits of gear
  • chest and waist straps to take the weight off of your shoulders
  • slim size
Several brands have backpacks with these features so it really comes down to choosing through style, price, and special features. Special features of daypacks can often mean cooling mechanisms that create airflow between the backpack, splash cover, or perhaps bungee cords and equipment straps. Brands of backpacks I like are Camelbak, Osprey, REI, Mountaintop, and Mountain Hardware. An affordable and high-performance daypack that I like is the Duhud by Mountaintop. It has a sleek look and several special features. 3. Snack: If you’re going to be out hiking for more than a couple hours you should bring a snack. I recommend nutritious snacks like nuts, granola, dried fruit, or protein bars. I love bananas for energy but they bruised and mushy in a backpack. 4. Sunscreen: Sunscreen is a good idea any time you’re outdoors, but especially essential at high altitudes where you are literally closer to the sun. I like Neutrogena sunscreen products or for a natural choice, you could get a zinc oxide based sunscreen like Badger Balm Sunscreen. 5. Map/ compass: These items are important for navigation and essential if it is long trail with a low amount of visitors or if you plan on going off-trail at all. Its best to be prepared- getting a map can be as easy as printing off a trail map online. For a compass there are many inexpensive options but if you want a compass that’s down to degree for the most accurate navigation I would go for a more moderately priced item. 6. Raincoat: In the mountains weather can change very suddenly. In the Front Range of Colorado, Summer thunderstorms are almost predictable in the mid-afternoon. Stay dry! And the raincoat can double as a an extra layer if it gets chilly. 7. Lighter: Lightweight and small, lighters are essential survival supplies. You can start a fire, important for keeping you warm, cooking food, and signaling especially if by accident you get lost. 8. Utility knife: Another important survival essential. Utility knives are also good for cutting up snacks, as a first aid tool, and as a part of a patch kit for your backpack or other gear. 9. Headlamp: Headlamps are another small item that is essential if your hike runs a little late. If you’re going somewhere new and unsure about the length of your hike or how much time it will take, bring your headlamp just in case you come back later than you thought. If you like to watch the sunset from the mountain you climbed, a headlamp is essential for finding your way back to your car. 10. First Aid Kit: This is an essential for many activities. Safety first!
  • Frank

    My uncle has a dog and he lives alone, These days he has make a plan to enjoy some time with friends by exploring different mountains where he can fun and take his dog with him doing this summer. I will suggest him to read this article.

  • john

    awesome – my family and I are going to climb Mt Washington NH soon so this is helpful

  • bush

    Great list. I actually use a military style Load Bearing Equipment set up with a buttpack attached to carry my gear. I like having the suspenders so not all the weight is on my hips