Cool Weather Dayhike Pack List

Fall is coming! The leaves are changing, and the temperatures are dropping. I’m always amazed at how unprepared newcomers are when the accompany me on a hike, especially in cold or cool weather. Always plan for the worst, because that’s the only time you’ll need anything. I’ve comprised a list of the basics that I carry with me on an every day hike. The list may seem long, but it’s everything you’ll need in case the weather turns nasty, you get lost, or end up spending the night for whatever reason. It happens. Be ready for it.

A good backpack. A dayhiking backpack that is comfortable, and can easily hold your gear. You want chest straps and nice soft padding. Make sure the bag fits you well, and is snug for those climbs and hopping around. For bonus points, pack a rain cover or waterproof the bag. Factory coatings don’t always cut it.


  • Synthetic base layer. Thermal, or similar.
  • Mid layer. Shirt or long sleeve shirt. Shy away from cotton.
  • Outer shell. Something water/windproof. Thickness depends on the weather conditions. Pants and jacket
  • Extra layer. A thin layer you can add on for warmth.
  • Synthetic socks and undies. Sweat will make you cold fast. Synthetics will help you keep dry and comfortable.
  • No cotton! Except for maybe a t-shirt.


  • Fire starter. Flint, waterproof matches, lighter,or other fire starters. DIY firestarters are a bonus.
  • Hot hands or similar quick heat system.
  • Emergency blanket. Always. It’s cheap, light, and can save your life.

Food and water:

  • 2 liter per day is usually a safe bet.
  • Water purification. Tablets, filters, or UV.
  • High calorie, light weight food. Dehydrated meals and snickers are good choices.
  • An extra days food. You  never know.

First aid Kit:

  • Ace bandage, for sprains or other injuries.
  • Bandages
  • Antibacterial ointment
  • Sunscreen and lip balm
  • Benadryl and Motrin. For swelling, headache, etc.
  • Blood clot kit, for excessive bleeding.
  • Tweezers and scissors

Map and Compass. Always. Even if you know the area.

Paracord or rope;  minimum of 8 feet

Extra socks. Nothing like a long hike with soggy feet.

Caffeine drink mix. For a little boost or to fend off headaches.

Emergency shelter, tarp or poncho that doubles as a tarp.

Gloves and headwear

Duct tape, knife, and multitool. You will be amazing at how often this will come in handy.


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