Packing for an Adirondack Day Hike: The Essentials!
Packing for an Adirondack Day Hike: The Essentials!

Packing for an Adirondack Day Hike: The Essentials!

At a recent school visit at West Canada Valley Elementary School, my son, Justin, and I [Gary] had the privilege of sharing some of our experiences in the Adirondack mountains that helped inspire story elements for our children’s book series, The Adirondack Kids®. And for one of the sessions, we were asked to talk with the students specifically about the essentials we pack for a day hike. And by a day hike, I mean hiking an entire day – up to 8-12 hours.

Justin has hiked a number of Adirondack mountains including about a dozen of the Adirondack High Peaks. I am a 46er (#6202) and have now hiked over 100 mountains in the Adirondacks, including 77 of the 100 highest.

Among those items we make sure to include in a day pack?

THE PACK, itself. That it is comfortable – rides on the hips well. Belts around the waist and across the chest.


WATER. Dehydration is all too common among novice hikers. It is easy to underestimate the amount of water one needs, especially on humid days and on those hikes where the body is persistently exposed to the sun. While I try to limit the amount of weight I carry, I do carry several pounds of water and a water filter.

TRAIL FOOD. Power bars, an apple, bagels (they lose their shape in a pack, but never lose their taste), celery, dark chocolate, peanut butter and jelly, in small sandwich bags, sometimes tucked with crackers and a plastic knife in a Pringles can.


MAPS & COMPASS. Even when hiking marked trails!

SMALL MED-KIT. (Moleskin, bandages, Benadryl, Ibuprofen, Athletic Tape, latex gloves, antibiotic ointment, sunscreen, tick remover). If allergic to bees talk to your doctor about an Epipen.

Hardshell Case. To carry reading glasses.

HEADLAMP/FLASHLIGHT/EXTRA BATTERIES/CANDLES/MATCHES/LIGHTER. You never know when there might be an emergency and are exiting the woods after dark or have to stay the night.

LIGHT RAINJACKET/WINDBREAKER & RAIN PANTS/PACK COVER. Yes, for cold and sudden inclement weather.


GAITORS. Which I wear while hiking. They keep debris (scree) from getting into the boots and help prevent ticks and bees from making an unwelcome entrance up through the open pant leg.

HEAD NET. Believe it or not I have only used it 1 or 2 times over the past decade, even during blackfly season. But I won’t hike without it.

EXTRA SOCKS/TECHWICK SHIRT/FLEECE. Again, for emergencies. It gets chilly at night during every season in the mountains. And never wear cotton!




TREKKING POLES. Which can be collapsed and carried, but I use them 100 percent of the time for balance, for helpful lift on the ascent and taking pressure off knees and legs during the descent.

CAMERA. Small and in a hard-shell case. I’ve already crushed two cameras when off trail. Three times is definitely not the charm!


CELL PHONES. I don’t own one. But I hardly ever hike solo and invariably my hiking partner has one. They do not work everywhere in the woods – but when it does work it is another safety item it is nice to have on hand to make contact in case of an emergency or, as is possible with some of today’s phones, as a GPS.

SMALL NOTEBOOK & PEN. For journaling or should you be writing articles for magazines or adventure stories for young people!

And we always let someone know our HIKING PLAN. The destination including the entry point and how long we expect the hike to take.


Following the school presentation, the teacher/hostess during the school visit commented on our ‘magic bag’ because it seemed bottomless as item after item was retrieved from it.
It is true the weight can add up quickly and that is why there has been an investment in careful planning and lightweight equipment and clothing.

The items carried can vary among experienced hikers, but these tend to be the basics for us for fair-weather hiking in the region. Study, check with the experts and pack what you find is best and safest for you carefully considering your physical condition, experience and chosen destination!

For great information for hiking in the Adirondacks including advice, workshops and guided hikes, visit the Adirondack Mountain Club site at

I should also mention that most of our outerwear has also been treated with Insect Shield® to help protect against ticks that can infect with Lyme Disease. Visit:

Q. Anything not on our list that you think should be? Share with us in the comments below.



Behind – the – Scenes

Deciding the location and working out the details for shooting our Affiliate Page Video. Nothing happens ‘poof!’



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