What to bring on a Weekend day hike

What to bring on a Weekend day hike  – Jason Black


I’ve put together a few simple tips that will keep you safe on a day hike.

Donegal walking weekends  are designed to take you off of the normal routes and into the wilder and more rugged parts of the Donegal that’s rarely visited. In most cases you do need some thought as to the clothing and equipment required, so here’s what i normally bring on a single day hiking in the Donegal hills.

Here are a few key points:

The importance of good footwear.

What may be safe and acceptable will vary with the grade of the hike and the time of year. Having the right footwear is not just a matter of comfortable dry feet; there are safety considerations here too.

On a dry and warm summer day a route may only require some good training shoes, but in the wet and cold of winter you will need good waterproof boots with good gripping soles. Slipping on wet ground can easily result in injury, and wet feet in winter will leave you feeling uncomfortable and cold.

Generally, the less demanding a hike you choose, the less specialist the shoe you will need. For our ‘Easy’ grade hikes good running shoes or lightweight walking boots will suffice, but remember that if it rains you might still get wet feet!

All our ‘Moderate’ and ‘Hard’ grade hikes venture off forest tracks and easy paths and onto hillsides and more demanding mountain routes. For these hikes good waterproof hiking boots are essential. Read the notes on each tour itinerary to see what we recommend for a particular hike.

Waterproof clothing, (remember, it often rains in Ireland!)

Bring a good waterproof jacket, preferably with a hood. Getting wet in the mountains is no joke, even in summer, and wet clothes loose heat fast, and can be a major contributor to hypothermia, a dangerous condition where the body loses more heat than it can generate and rapidly cools.

 Not only will a jacket keep you dry but it acts as a windproof layer too, helping to keep you warm on the often windy mountain ridges.

Waterproof pants, to cover the legs when it rains, are also a useful addition. We recognise that not everyone will have or would wish to invest in these, and so we carry a few spare which are available to loan.

Cotton clothing in general, and denim in particular, are poorly suited to wearing in the mountains. Dense cotton clothing gets heavy and cold when wet, and has very poor heat retention properties.  For this reason i strongly advise against wearing denim jeans on hikes.  Instead choose comfortable athletic pants, stretch leggings are ideal, as are the poly cotton hiking pants found in many outdoor stores.

It is essential to stay hydrated when hiking

 Our bodies need plenty of water to function properly when exercising, the amount of water an individual may need in a day will vary.

Factors influencing this will include the length and difficulty of the hike, the temperature on the day and an individual’s own metabolism. However, a good guide would be to bring 1½ litre of water per person for a full day hike. I usually pop a NooN hydration tab in every second water bottle i consume to top up my salts.

It is important to remember to bring food too! We burn a lot more calories in a day when out in the hills, this is great for dieting, but we need to ensure our bodies have enough energy to get us through the day, particularly in winter when we are burning more energy just to stay warm. The only thing the body can utilize properly as fuel for energy when out on the hills for long periods, is long chain clean carbs. i usually have 2 small easy to make in 2 min porridge pots and hot water in a flask. This is super light food to carry so i can travel fast and ill have hot water anyhow for a coffee (use nescafe sachets as needed)
Your body can’t utilize meat or fats efficiently while on the move on the trail however jam or sugar based sandwich filling are so much better for fast converting glycogen energy stores.

Remember to bring warm gloves and a hat.

You should also add a spare warm layer like a fleece or a jumper, it is always colder in the mountains and often windier too, so don’t be caught out!

If you are joining us in the winter, gaiters are a good addition to your kit; they will keep you dry and clean below the knee, and keep snow out of your boots too. In the summer don’t forget your sunscreen and sunglasses.

You will need a small pack to put all this into, 25-30 litre capacity should be enough. We have a small selection of packs to loan if required, as well as walking poles and spare hats and gloves, just let us know!

Here is a final checklist of what you will need to bring on one of our day hikes.

  • Waterproof hiking boots
  • Waterproof jacket and pants
  • Comfortable athletic leggings or trekking pants (no denim jeans please)
  • Hiking socks
  • Base / Mid / Top layer as a spares in a waterproof stuff sack in my backpack.
  • Hat/buff and gloves
  • 1½ litres of water (or a hot drink in the winter)
  • Food for the day 90-100g per hour.
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses (in the summer)
  • Rucksack of around 25 litres capacity
  • Gaiters are great to keep feet warm and dry in wet days (optional)
  • Walking poles (optional)
  • Head Torch & SOS Whistle 
  • Small Personal first aid deals with cuts, blisters, ankle or wrist injury.
  • Small foil blanket in case you need to bunker down or get injured.
  • Mobile phone ping a location and have Maps.me downloaded, works offline.
  • Know the incoming Weather forecast
  • Mountain rescue number 999 or 112 and ask for Mountain Rescue.
  • Route plan and a ETA plan that a friend knows your doing that day.These Optionals i always carry no matter how long or how short im on the Hill.
    Bothy bag 
    1x Flare

    I hope you’ve found this helpful, and this kit list has dug me out of more unforeseen situations than i care to remember.

Jason Black
Irish Mountaineer