Everybody loves a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of daily life, especially during those fall and spring months when Mother Nature is practically screaming at you to come and hang out with her. Unfortunately, because so many of us have to work five days out of the week, that doesn’t leave room for us to go on a 3 day camping trip every weekend (as much as we might like to).
My favorite alternative? There’s nothing better than a quick day-hike. Hitting the trails for a 5 or 6 hour window leaves you feeling refreshed going back into the workweek, and can get some of that much needed Vitamin D that you just can’t find from within the confines of a cubicle.
As casual as some people treat a quick hike like this, there’s definitely something to be said for having the right gear- it leaves you feeling healthier at the end of your trek, and can make the experience that much more enjoyable. But it’s easy to overpack- a quick hike like this calls for simplicity and a light load, so I’ve put together a list of 6 easy essentials for any day hike.
1. The Right Shoes
Everyone always stresses the importance of a good pair of shoes, and maybe you’re sick of hearing it, but the right shoes make all the difference. For a shorter trip be sure to go light. Heavy hiking boots are great when conquering a mountain, but for a quick hike you don’t want to lug around all that extra weight. Knowing what shoes are best for the hike you’ll be going on will leave more time to enjoy nature, and less time spent complaining about how uncomfortable you are.
Don’t be afraid to invest some time and energy into finding the perfect shoe for you, it’s a long-term investment that pays off after only a couple trips. For help, try REI’s Expert Advice columns, they usually have everything you need to know.
2. A Sturdy Water Bottle
The biggest advice I can give to anyone going on any sort of excursion is to hydrate. Hydrate like a fool that’s been stuck in a desert, especially if you’ll be in any sort of high-altitude situation. This seems like a no-brainer, but so many forget to bring a real water bottle with them, and end up feeling terrible on the way home because of it.
For hikes of this nature, I recommend at least a 24 oz bottle, though I personally prefer a 32 oz. If you don’t already have a water bottle for your everyday life, make the investment. For the sake of your wallet and the environment, wean yourself away from store-bought bottled water and start using a personal water bottle, you’ll be surprised how much of a difference it can make.
3. A Way of Capturing the Moment
Don’t get me wrong, a camera is by no means a necessity. You can enjoy the beauty of nature without a camera any day of the week. That being said, it’s pretty special to have a way to capture the moment when you stumble across the most gorgeous sunset you’ve ever seen, or find a moose staring right at you from across the riverbank.
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, even a quick phone camera will do the trick, but don’t be afraid to explore your artsy side and start documenting those adventures of yours. You’ll be thankful years from now when you can look back on all the adventures you’ve had.
4. The Perfect Day-pack
Choosing the right backpack for a trek is perhaps one of the most important ways to make your getaway more enjoyable. You won’t be juggling your water bottle and it provides quick and easy access to any other necessities you might bring with you.
For a small day-hike you don’t need anything too extraordinary. I would recommend an 18-23 L daypack, preferably one that weighs anywhere from 7oz-1lb. Pay special attention to weight and durability when you’re looking at a day pack. Sure, any regular old backpack will do the trick, but you won’t need to carry much, so using a day-pack can really add to the comfort of your trip.
If you’re in the market, ENO’s Kanga pack slings easily over the shoulder, making it perfect for a quick nature hike, and it only weighs 9oz, light enough for any adventure.
5. Your Hammock, Of Course (and a little time to goof around)
What better way is there to enjoy nature than from the comfort of your very own ENO hammock? Be sure to give yourself a cushion on return time so that you can hang around for a bit. Conquering the entirety of a trail feels great, but so does taking a little time to appreciate the beauty of nature from the comfort of your DoubleNest. And while you’re at it, pull out your camera and snap a picture for the photo contest ENO holds every month to earn some free swag!
6. Some Good Friends, and Some Good Vibes
Rally the troops. Whether it’s grabbing a co-worker from the office next door, or just a four-legged furry pal, take someone with you. Not only is it safer to explore with others, it’s just plain a good ole time (and it gives another perfect excuse to use that camera of yours). Conquer that rock face that strikes your fancy, or just hang your hammocks for awhile and chat about the world. Do nature together, and do life together.
Getting outdoors doesn’t have to be a long-term getaway. As much as we’d love to spend every weekend camping under the starry sky, life doesn’t always leave opportunity for that. So find a few hours out of your afternoon to hit the great outdoors and see a little sunshine, whether it’s the trail just outside of the city that you’ve been dying to explore, or a rocky mountain path. Be sure to get outside and get to hanging, fellow ENOpians.