Hiking Gear List for Local Day Hikes
What's in my backpack on local hikes? Here's my hiking gear list for day hikes in the local Atlanta area.
Atlanta’s network of parks, nature preserves and green spaces offer a great day hikes near the city – from summiting nearby mountains to hikes along whitewater-filled creeks and wide-flowing rivers. What do I pack on my favorite Atlanta hikes?
Even on local hikes, an easy two mile loop can get confusing if you’re lost – or seem really lengthy if you’re injured. When I’m hiking locally, my hiking gear list is shorter – and much lighter – than my gear list for a backcountry hike in North Georgia. But I still keep basic safety and navigation gear in my backpack so I’m prepared on the trail.
Even though many local Atlanta trails are relatively short, I make my local hiking gear list assuming:
- I won’t have mobile phone service, with Atlanta’s spotty cell reception
- I might be the only one on the trail
- if I get lost, I might be out later than I expected
Backpack & Navigation
Yeah, I admit – my gear closet is full of backpacks. The ones I grab most often for a local Atlanta hike? The Osprey Talon 22 Pack is an extremely comfortable day pack with a streamlined, low-profile design and a fantastic storage system. Another favorite, the REI Flash 18 Pack is a lightweight, durable, and cost-conscious pack that also gets a ton of trail time.
For warm-weather hikes, I love the Osprey Stratos 24 and women’s Osprey Sirrus 24 backpacks. The packs feature a curved aluminum frame and a perforated back panel to maximize airflow between the pack and my back. And an integrated rain cover keeps the pack dry in case of summer showers. Read more on these maximum-airflow packs in my Osprey Stratos 24 and Sirrus 24 reviews.
GPS, Compass & Trail Map
Trail routes occasionally change to help prevent trail erosion or hike around obstacles. And getting lost takes the fun out of a hike, so navigation gear tops my hiking gear list – even on local trails.
I track the trail with my Garmin 600 GPS. The Garmin 600 works offline, so I can view maps and trail info even if I don’t have a mobile phone signal. And Garmin’s Tracback feature guides me back to the trailhead where I started from, following my outbound hike in reverse.
And for backup, I carry my Suunto A-10 Compass and a printed trail map.
Day hiking gear
I keep these health and safety essentials in my backpack in case of an emergency.
First Aid Kit
The Adventure Medical Ultralight Watertight First Aid Kit is super lightweight and small – but contains medical essentials in case of injury out on the trail. And the watertight packaging keeps the contents dry.
Sun & Bugs
I pack mini sizes of sunscreen and insect repellant from REI.
Keeping it all organized & dry
Atlanta’s weather is unpredictable. It’s amazing how quickly a “zero percent chance of rain” turns into a heavy afternoon shower. I pack several Sea to Summit Lightweight Dry Bags in my backpack to stash my mobile phone and camera in case of rain.
The super lightweight but nearly indestructible Eagle Creek Specter bags are great for keeping my pack organized, and preventing small gear from hiding in the bottom of my backpack.
And just in case
Carabiner clips are randomly useful on the trail, and I always have a few attached to my backpacks or stuffed in my gear bag. Ditto for duct tape and my trail knife: while I’ve never needed them on a local trail, they’re in my backcountry hiking gear kit and are lightweight, so I keep them packed and they’re there if I need them.
Sometimes a great waterfall or stunning sunset keeps me on the trail later than I expected. So I always pack my Princeton Tec headlamp – it’s small and lightweight, and makes finding the trail after dark much easier. (A mini flashlight works well, too.)
I almost always pack a snack: trail mix, bananas – or for a longer hike, a Big Sur Bar, my favorite trail bar. (Read my full Big Sur Bar review here.) GU Brew tabs drop into a water bottle to make an electrolyte-charged sports drink on the trail: easier than carrying water and a sports drink.
It’s important to stay hydrated on the trail, especially in Atlanta’s warm climate. I was a fan of water bottles until I started using my Osprey Hydraulics 3 Liter Reservoir. It fits in my REI Flash 18 backpack’s hydration pocket. I find it much easier to stay hydrated on the trail with a hydration pack – I was never a fan of stopping to dig water bottles out from the bottom of my backpack.
Hiking gear for dogs
I almost always hike with my black labrador retriever, Jake. (Check out Jake’s favorite dog-friendly trails in Georgia).
To keep Jake safe on the trail, I always keep him leashed to keep him out of trouble – and keep him from annoying other dogs, people and wildlife. One of my favorite trail leashes is the Ruffwear Slackline Leash. It’s adjustable in length, features a swivel clip to help prevent tangles, and the handle is well-padded. (With a high-energy, squirrel-crazy puppy like Jake, I appreciate the padded handle!)
Just like humans, hydration is extremely important for dogs on the trail, too. I always pack extra water for Jake, and a collapsable water dish like the Ruffwear Bivy Bowl. And for convenient hydration on longer local trails, Jake wears his Ruffwear Singletrak dog hydration pack. The Singletrak is our favorite, trail-tested, low-profile dog backpack that makes on-trail hydration easy for my favorite four-legged hiking buddy.
Jake loves food, and appreciates a snack on the trail, too. Jake’s favorite trail snack is easily packable: TurboPUP bars are grain-free, individually packaged trail bars specially for dogs.