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The 2024 Skyblue Guide to Day Hiking Essentials

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Discover the ultimate gear guide for day hiking in 2024. From canyon hopping to waterfall chasing and peak bagging, our essentials will fuel your next outdoor adventure. Get ready to conquer nature’s wonders with Skyblue’s must-haves.

Conquer nature’s obstacles in a single day with these essential items for intense day hiking in 2024. From traversing treacherous canyons to uncovering hidden waterfalls and conquering towering mountain peaks, these gear picks have been personally tested and approved by our team of experts. With the right fits, footwear, and daypacks at your disposal, you’ll maximize every moment of daylight and emerge victorious against any terrain.

We love hiking as an outdoor pastime because it is uncomplicated and doesn’t require any expensive equipment. You can go for a quick jaunt of just 15 minutes or spend a whole day on the trails, making it suitable for any fitness level or desired activity level for that day.

As long as you have a pair of shoes or boots with good tread, you’re all set to go for a hike. But if you become more invested in hiking and start going two or three times a week or tackling full-day peak-bagging expeditions on the weekends, you will eventually want to acquire some additional gear and develop more skills.

Good shoes or boots are all you need for hiking.

Choosing Day Hiking Footwear

When preparing for a day hike, selecting the right footwear is crucial. Each person’s feet have unique needs and it’s important to consider the terrain we will be trekking through. Our shoes are what connect us to the trail, so it’s essential that they provide comfort and support.

When it comes to finding the perfect hiking boot, there are countless factors to consider. Are you in an area where it rains frequently? If so, look for a boot with a Gore-Tex lining or membrane to shield your feet from moisture and harsh weather conditions. Do you often trek through rocky terrain? A sturdy boot with strong ankle support, minimal flexibility, and multi-directional lugs for traction is your best bet. And if you live in a desert climate, opt for boots with breathable mesh liners and uppers to keep your feet cool and comfortable.

Best Hiking Boot

When it comes to the ultimate hiking boots, one model truly stands out: the Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX ($175, Men’s, Women’s). It offers the perfect combination of comfort, support, and durability that any hiker would appreciate. Thanks to its lightweight design and waterproof features, this boot is suitable for various terrains and weather conditions. The mid-top cut of the X Ultra 4 provides essential ankle support without restricting movement, making it an ideal choice for longer hikes or carrying a heavier backpack. The men’s version offers six colorways and the women’s has five.

Utilizing a blend of leather and textile materials, the boot’s upper is soft and pliable, adapting to the shape of your foot for immediate comfort upon wearing. And with its Ortholite footbed, you can trust in long-lasting comfort throughout your hikes. Moreover, the X Ultra 4 Mid GTX features a traditional lacing system that ensures a secure fit around the ankle, providing more stability than one might anticipate from a mid-height boot.

The Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX offers a perfect blend of comfort and support – the best of both worlds. With its adaptable design and durable construction, this hiking shoe is an ideal partner for all your outdoor endeavors.

Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX. Photo: Salomon

Typically, when we go day hiking in the spring or fall, we opt for non-waterproof shoes that are quick-drying. We don’t mind splashing through puddles since our feet will dry off during the hike. However, if we’re hiking in colder weather conditions, we make sure to wear waterproof footwear. Additionally, if there is snow or ice on the ground, it’s necessary to use a traction device like the Kahtoola EXOspikes Traction System for safety purposes. Check out our Skyblue Traction Device Guide for top microspikes, crampons, and snowshoes perfect for hiking in icy conditions.

Men’s hiking footwear are just a breath away from our top pick, offering unparalleled style and durability.

Salomon X ULTRA 4 MID GORE-TEX Men's Hiking Boots
Conquer any terrain with the mid-cut GORE-TEX X-ULTRA 4. Agile and stable, it's like a trail-running shoe but waterproof for tough paths.
Price: $175
Vasque Talus AT Ultradry™ Men's Waterproof Hiking Boot
Vasque's Talus AT (All-Terrain) combines durability and uncompromised grip that has made it a fan favorite by those that like to hike.
Price: $170


Women’s hiking footwear with style and durability that rivals our top pick.

La Sportiva Women’s Spire GTX Hiking Shoe 

The Spire GTX is perfect for hikers who want a light duty hiking boot for day trips in variable to rugged terrain, and for backpackers who seek a versatile and waterproof boot that breathes well and supports lighter loads.
Price: $209


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Choosing Day Hiking Packs

Will you be hiking all day or just for a short while during your lunch break? We have a selection of small and lightweight vest-style hydration packs for running, medium-sized hydration packs, and larger framed packs designed to last throughout the day. You can find the perfect fit, features, and capacity that suit your needs right here.

When looking for a daypack, the first thing we consider is its size. We think about how long our outing will be and what items we want (or have to) bring along. Sometimes we like to squeeze in a quick hike before work or take a short trip into the nearby foothills before sunset. During these brief excursions, we typically only need to carry a water bottle, an extra layer, and a snack. In these cases, a daypack with a capacity of 20 liters or less is sufficient, although larger packs are not usually too cumbersome.

For longer hikes, we may require bigger daypacks, ranging from 30 to 40 liters in size. When packing multiple layers, a first aid kit, an emergency bivy, a camera, a full lunch, and plenty of snacks, having that extra space is necessary. And if our gear is heavy, we tend to prefer daypacks with frames for added support and comfort.

It’s a personal choice to use a hydration tube or not while hiking. Some people like to sip on water as they walk, while others prefer to pause and rest at designated water stops. If you prefer using bottles, look for backpacks with side pockets specifically designed for carrying them. Other packs have the option of holding both side water bottles and internal water bladders.

Now comes the question of storage. Should I focus on internal organization or just pack everything into a rucksack? The writer of this guide confesses to being a disorganized packer, while others in our group have a more OCD approach, giving each item its own designated spot. You know who

At last, a perfect fit. While daypack sizing is not as crucial as backpacking pack sizing, it’s still important to consult sizing guides. If you fall between sizes, it’s generally best to size up. We are pleased to offer daypacks for all body types. With the ability to adjust packs for larger individuals and specialized designs for women’s bodies, we strive to have options available for everyone.

Photo: Deuter

Best Daypack

The Deuter Speed Lite 25 ($120) is highly respected in the world of daypacks, especially for its combination of comfort, versatility, and durable craftsmanship. It has been recognized as the ultimate choice for hiking daypacks, making it a top option for those who value both comfort and reliable construction. The pack boasts a tensioned Derlin U frame that significantly increases its carrying capacity, making it perfect for longer hikes or situations where more gear needs to be carried. Its design prioritizes a snug fit and balanced weight distribution, with various features tailored to the needs of hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Deuter Speed Lite 25 Daypack. Photo: Deuter

Day Packs: Discover a variety of day packs designed for all kinds of adventures, no matter how long they may last, right here.

Mystery Ranch 2-Day Assault 27L Daypack
The new 2-DAY is a scaled-down option for non-military enthusiasts built into a smaller, everyday urban size and functionality.
Price: $229
MYSTERY RANCH Scree Outdoor Backpack - 32L
Midsize daypack designed for hiking, travel, climbing, and commuting
Price: $209
Osprey Packs Talon Velocity 20L Backpack
Light-and-fast, multi-sport versatility: the all-new Talon Velocity 20 ups the ante on speed and efficiency for your pursuits, be it PR-setting, bagging peaks or linking quick laps on the snow.
Price: $180
Black Diamond Pursuit 30L Backpack
Bagging more than one summit in a day? The Pursuit 30 Pack will keep you moving light and fast, peak after peak.
Price: $179.95
Mammut Lithium 20L Daypack
You like to shift up a gear when hiking. Lightweight and compact equipment is a must. The Lithium 20 is made mainly from recycled materials and the durable water-repellent treatment is PFC-free.
Price: $109.95
EXPED Impulse 20L Pack
The Impulse 20 is a versatile pack for outdoor activities. With multiple pockets and easy access, it's perfect for trail runs, bike tours, mountaineering, or hiking trips.on.
Price: $149.95


Hydration Packs: Stay hydrated on the go with our recommended hydration packs.

Osprey Packs Skarab 22L Backpack
The Skarab 22-liter is a hiking pack that adds a little room for extra gear, layers or snacks with the next-gen hydraulics reservoir and simple organization so you can carry just what you need.
Price: $130
Gregory Citro H2O 24L Daypack
The Citro 24 H2O employs wicking mesh on the VaporSpan ventilated suspension to keep your internal engine from overheating. Plus an included 3D Hydro Reservoir with the SpeedClip attachment system, and Drylock magnetic bite valve keeps water breaks moving.
Price: $169.95
CamelBak Fourteener 32L Hydration Pack with Crux® 3L Reservoir
Get out and wander the wilderness a little bit further when you pack your gear in the Fourteener™ 32. This backpack was designed to comfortably carry all of your gear, securely and with handy organization.
Price: $175
Cotopaxi Lagos 25L Hydration Pack
Built for hikers of all levels, the Lagos 25L Hydration Pack is great for beginners and seasoned hikers alike.
Price: $160

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