We’ve put together the ultimate day hike packing list with everything you’ll need for most one day adventures in Australia & NZ. 


The Aussie bush might look benign, and most walks are fairly manageable for the average bear – but if something unexpected happens, being prepared is the name of the game.

Here’s a scary stat: in the Blue Mountains National Park alone, around 130 bushwalkers get lost or need rescuing every year. 

That’s more than two people every weekend! 

Thankfully most people are found within 24 hours, but occasionally a simple adventure can turn really dark.


Looking for a checklist? Scroll to the end of the article!


Even if your walk is uneventful on the safety front, packing properly for a day hike will keep you comfortable and make the day vastly more enjoyable. 

If you’re heading out in extreme temps, tackling alpine areas in winter, or planning a high summer hiking adventure, you’ll need some specialist gear. However, for the average half or full-day hike in the bush, there are a few key items you should definitely pack in your backpack. 

Read more:  How to Stay Safe in the Bush: The Ultimate Hiking Safety Guide

Absolute Essentials You Should Pack for a Day Hike

Food and Water

Enjoying a day out in the wilderness means you’ll need enough food and water to keep comfortable and keep your energy levels up. This can vary depending on the time of year – in summer you’ll definitely need more water.

Running out can make you uncomfortable fast, so don’t skimp on the hydration, and fill up as many water bottles or bladders that you think you might need. Take at least 1 litre in cool conditions, in summer you’ll want to double or even triple it for longer walks.


If your planned route is technical, exposed or has a lot of elevation you’ll most likely burn through energy faster, so take healthy high-calorie snacks like trail mix and muesli bars, and include plenty of carbs in the form of a big sandwich or wrap. Salty snacks are great too in summer, to help replace lost sweat.

Read more: Eat Like A Backcountry King

First Aid Kit

No matter where you’re headed, a simple lightweight first aid kit is a must.


At a minimum, include a snake bandage (and know how to use it!), a lightweight crepe bandage, bandaids, and a space blanket. Space blankets are compact silver foil sheets that can be found in your local chemist. Along with providing excellent body insulation and warmth if you slow down or get stuck in cold weather, they can also be used to help emergency responders find you from the air by laying the reflective silver material flat on the ground.

Personal locator beacon (PLB) or Satellite Messenger (& Mobile Phone)

PLBs are small travel-sized beacons that can transmit a signal to emergency services if you need help. They work using a different set of satellites to the mobile network, which is why they are a smart addition to your day pack when you’re heading out on tracks that don’t have decent phone reception. 



There are a range of different types available, and they’re not cheap: most will set you back a few hundred bucks and some require an additional annual subscription to connect you to their communication network. The upside is that having a PLB or communicator, such as a Garmin InReach or a SPOT tracker on you gives you serious peace of mind if things go wrong. 

It’s also a great idea to bring your mobile phone as they often have enough reception to call emergency services. But when in doubt, something that doesn’t rely on the cellular network is always better.

The Garmin inReach Mini GPS weighs just 100g.

Read more: Personal Locator Beacons and Satellite Messengers – Everything You Need To Know.

Map or GPS

Even on a day hike it’s possible to get pretty lost, so it’s always smart to take a map or GPS, even if you don’t end up using it!

The safest option is a paper map in a map case, and a compass. But you’ve gotta know how to use them!

More people these days are taking a GPS, watch with a loaded route or their phone with saved offline maps. Just remember that all of these options can run out of battery (or break), so shouldn’t be solely relied upon if the day hike you’re doing requires solid navigation work.


A Decent Rain Jacket

Perhaps emerging from the trail looking like a drowned rat after hours of hiking in the rain is your idea of fun, but for the rest of us, packing a rain jacket is a must. 

There are plenty of budget-friendly options available, but don’t be tempted to grab a disposable plastic poncho from your local $2 shop. Not only are these ineffective against heavy rain, but they’re also single-use and not the best environmental choice.


Patagonia’s Torrentshell 3L Jacket is a We Are Explorers staple and uses the awesome sounding H2No® tech to keep you dry all day long.

Look for terms like ‘seam-sealed’ on the label, which means water won’t sneak in through the stitching. Breathable fabric is a wise choice too – although remember if you’re sweating it out climbing a mountain, you’re always gonna be a bit moist and sticky on the inside anyway.

Read more: 7 Tips for Hiking in the Rain


Warm Layers

Along with your rain jacket, a thermal layer is a good idea: typically made of synthetic material or natural fibres like merino wool, thermal tops pack down small and can be stuffed in the bottom of your pack in case the weather turns sour. 

Thermal layers are designed to trap tiny pockets of air near your skin and will still keep you semi-warm even if they get wet. Cotton on the other hand is one of the worst choices for hiking gear – it doesn’t trap heat in the same way, and when wet it absorbs moisture fast, weighing you down. 

In contrast to thermal fabrics, the little air pockets in cotton will hold moisture against your skin, leading to chills, and potentially hypothermia. Leave your favourite cotton flannie at home and wear the right gear to keep you warm and comfortable.


5 Ways To Know That You’re Geotagging Like a Boss - Bridget Moyle, Geotagging, Larapinta Trail

Photo thanks to Bridget Moyle

Decent Hiking Shoes, Boots or Trail Runners

Depending on the adventure, trail runners might be perfectly fine. However, for more hardcore adventures involving sharp rocky trails or boggy tracks, hiking boots are a must to keep you comfy and dry.

Designed with a heap of padding, grippy soles, and ankle support, hiking boots are a great investment that will soon become your go-to adventure shoes.



Salomon’s OUTline MID GTX is a great blend between traditional hike and trail running weight.


Read more: What What To Look For In A Great Pair Of Hiking Boots (And Why You Need Them)


Summiting Mt Twynam – Australia's Third Highest Mountain, Winsome Whyte, Wilderness Wear, socks, boots, tie laces

Photo thanks to @winnieawhyte

Head Torch

Even if you don’t plan to be caught out late, a head torch (with spare batteries) is always a smart safety addition to your pack. If injury or getting lost slows you down a head torch can make getting out of there way easier. Plus, it doesn’t run down the battery on your phone, which you’ll want to keep charged if you’ve had to deploy the head torch!

Read more: Which Head Torch Do I Need?


5 Adventures To Make Life Unboring, knog, photo by guy wilmot, empress canyon, blue mountains, nsw, bilby headlamp, light, torch

Toilet Paper and Hand Sanitiser

Pooping in the bush might be one of life’s most enjoyable activities, or the most awkward, depending on where you fall on the crunchy nature-child spectrum. Whether you’re comfortable with it or not, when you gotta go, you gotta go – but make sure you do it right.

That being said, for popular trails, you really want to plan ahead and go before or after your walk in a real toilet. It should be a last resort.

Spare a thought for the pristine environment that you’re in (and the hikers that will come after you) and follow some basic ethical rules – here’s a guide!


Sun Protection

Even in winter, UV radiation levels in Australia can be seriously high. Alpine areas can be some of the most dangerous for sunburn, especially if the temperature is cold: you don’t expect to get burnt the way we usually associate with sunny days, but don’t be fooled! Slip slop slap whenever you’re going out for a big day in the bush.

Pro tip: if you’re planning to swim in wild rivers or waterfalls, choose your sunscreen wisely. Some formulas contain chemicals and microplastics that upset the ecological balance of waterways. Remember your favourite hiking hat too: bushwalking is the only acceptable time to wear a legionnaires hat without looking like you’re back in Miss Wilson’s grade 2 class.



You need something to carry all these essentials! On a day hike you don’t need a particularly big backpack, heck you could even make it work with a bum bag. The key though, is making sure it’s comfortable. When you’re walking for many kilometres, a normal backpack might start to rub or hurt your shoulders.

Look for something with good padding, a breathable back, and even a waist belt to take some of the load. About 10-25 litres of storage should do it!


Hiking Daypack

The Osprey Daylite pack is an affordable and lightweight option with 13L of storage.

What about longer trips and overnight hikes?

If you’re heading out for your first overnight walk, check out our hiking gear list for beginners that details everything you need for an overnight hike. It’s not just a matter of adding a sleeping bag and tent to your packing list: there are a few other necessities that will make life safer and more comfortable if you’re heading out on an overnight camping adventure.


The Golden Rule: ‘TREK’

With any adventure in the bush, following the TREK acronym is the most reliable way to ensure you get home safely.

Taking all the necessary gear, telling a friend or family member about your hike before you leave, and not changing your route or plans midway through your adventure is an excellent habit that will make you a safe and responsible bushwalker.

  • T – take the right gear
  • R – register your trip by checking in at the local national parks office, or tell a friend where you’re going and when you expect to be back
  • E – be prepared for an emergency with a PLB
  • K – keep to your original plans and don’t go off-track


Heading out to explore new places is exciting, refreshing, and challenging. Walks that can be done in a day are gaining in popularity with more and more people chasing beautiful views, wilderness experiences, and the sense of renewal and energy that comes from spending a day in nature.

Having the right gear with you and taking a few simple safety precautions adds to the experience, allowing you to concentrate on the good stuff like enjoying magical views and keeping your eyes peeled for wildlife. See ya out there!

Day Hiking Packing Checklist

  • Food
  • Water
  • First Aid Kit
  • PLB or Satellite Messenger
  • Mobile Phone
  • Map or GPS
  • Rain Jacket
  • Warm layers
  • Hiking shoes, boots or trail runners
  • Head Torch
  • Toilet paper and hand sanitiser
  • Sun protection
  • Backpack