Hiking essentials to pack for semi-cold weather aren’t hard to find. Hiking, unlike mountaineering, requires simple pack gear. But that doesn’t mean you can just go out into the wild unprepared. Here’s a list of essentials to pack for a semi-cold weather day hike.
The time right before winter really hits will yield some of the best hiking possible. It’s not yet too cold, and its no longer warm. But you’ll need some preparation even for this weather, especially when doing some great autumn hiking.
The number one essential for a day hike is food. You will definitely need at least two meals, snacks, and water for an all-day hike. Make sure your food is high in protein and avoid using heavy-duty, military-grade MRE’s for continuous daily hiking use. Those meal options contain thousands of calories per meal, about 3,000. They are more appropriate for more strenuous and wilderness-style survival experienced over more than one day.
The perfect meals for day-hiking are freeze-dried/dehydrated, all-in-one meals in a pouch. Many brands sell them, right now we enjoy Firepot by Outdoorfoods and Mountain House. These are easy to make and have a really good lineup of food options.
Cooking these meals is easy. You’ll just have to boil some water and fill the meal pouches up to the designated line. Seal the bag and wait, usually between nine and 15 minutes, depending on the brand. Once the time is up, stir and serve. So read through this article for all of the essential meal-making gear you will need.
Always pack a small dessert like apple sauce to finish off your meal. Just because.
Snacks are easy foods you can consume while hiking. They don’t require a stop for meal-prep. Pack these and plan to eat them continuously for energy as you hike along your trail. Essential snacks include:
- Granola bars
- Tuna can snacks, like prepared tuna salad kits
- Dried Fruits
- Non-dairy yogurt tubes
- Fruit bars
- Meat sticks and/or Jerky
Although your hiking pack may include a hydration pack, that’s not all you need. Make sure you bring at least one extra bottle of water per person for consumption. Pack one large or two regular-sized bottles (16 fl. oz.) of water for meal prep.
For a two-person day hike, a four-cup bottle (32 fl. oz.) of water should be enough for meal-prep.
Obviously, if you’re going hiking in semi-cold weather, clothing is going to be the main consideration. You want to make sure you don’t leave yourself open to being cold, but also, don’t over-do it.
Jackets and Outerwear
The best recommendation we can give is to make sure you pack a fleece-lined jacket that has a built-in shell. This eliminates the need for multiple layers, and most jackets in this category are highly packable. Columbia offers some great options in this category.
Bring medium-weather gloves and a hat. But do not bring a bulky coat. That’s unnecessary and will weigh you down.
Before putting anything on, consider layering with long-sleeve undershirts and pants. Call them thermal underwear or whatever you like, but these come in different styles and are necessary for avid hikers. Traditional waffle-style thermals are fine, but more modern styles offer better performance. Try a style that is medium-thick fleece-lined.
Or, consider fleece-lined hiking, yoga, or active pants. Pack extra socks in case you step in water. In cold weather, exposed hands and feet can become a problem.
Finally, purchase some quality boots for varied terrain and ice cleats if there is ice on the ground. When hiking in the mountains, ground-level may be ice-free. As you go higher, though, it’s likely you’ll run into some.
You’re not going to need heavy mountaineering gear for hiking, but some gear is always better to have and not need than to need them and not have them. Check out these simple, lightweight gear options to pack.
- Hiking sticks
- Waterproof bag or case
We came across the Radiate Portable Campfire, which we always take with us on cold hikes. Read our review here, which details how to use it and what we thought about it.
If you’re heading out into the mountains, be sure to freshen up on mountain safety tips so you start your hike with peace of mind.
If you plan on eating, you will need gear to cook your food with. Most hiking meals don’t require cooking per se, however, they do require boiling water. So pack the following:
- An outdoor stove (a small tank of butane and a burner stand for your pots.)
- A “mess set” (a kit that includes a pot, a pan, a measuring cup, and a plate.)
- Metal, silicone or reusable plastic plates, utensils and cups
- Matches or flint and fire starters
Always pack a safety kit. This is non-negotiable. Make sure your kit includes:
- Bug repellant
- Allergy medication
- OTC Pain reliever
- Alcohol pads
- Ace bandages
- A foldable scissor
- Snakebite kit
- Bug Bite stick
- If possible, an outdoor suture kit
Just because you are outdoors doesn’t mean you are not part of civilization. Make sure you bring your identification with you and keep it in a small waterproof case or even a zip lock bag. You may need it in the event something happens to you or if, for some reason, park rangers ask for it or any number of situations.
Just bring your ID, some cash, your bank or credit card and keep it in a waterproof casing.
Keep yourself clean. Pack some wet wipes, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper and you’re good to go.
Women hike too. Often, their needs are overlooked; especially in survival packs. If you want to make sure your hygiene is taken care of, here are some neat tips.
Purchase a female urination device. Yes, they do work. They are small, made of silicone and can be discretely rolled up and packed in a small pouch. Try using a cheap, fabric sunglass zipper case like the one below.
Pack some wet/baby wipes to make sure you’re fresh and clean. As an added tip, bring a small bottle of water specifically designated for rinsing your urination device after you’re done using it. You’ll then be able to pack it back up clean and not have to worry about lingering smells and wetness. Yuck.
Also, consider bringing extra pantyliners in case it becomes a sweaty hike. You can also keep these in your sunglass pouch.
That’s it. Once you pack these things once or twice, they become ingrained and you’ll be glad you never left home without them.
If you liked this article, Check out our article on mountain safety tips for hikers.
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