How to Pack For Hiking | A Hiking Master Guide For All Novice


Experts recommend that you bring many of the same items, whether it’s a mile-long hike along Acadia National Park’s oceanfront trails or a multi-day trek on the Appalachian Trail. It takes skill to place these essentials in a bag strategically. This is how to pack for hiking made for the Great Outdoors, straight from the people who spend most of their time on the trails.

How to pack for hiking

Do you feel overwhelmed by all the different ways to pack for hiking? The first article suggests that you should carry very little when backpacking. Minimization is the best way to go. Next, the report lists a hundred items and warns that you can’t have everything. Unfortunately, there is no one correct answer. Both views are valid. You can move quicker and more efficiently with lighter packs. You are ready for anything with a full load.


Start with a small backpack. Many backpacks come in different sizes and colors. A backpack may be required for any school. You can fill the backpack with plenty of weight, and you can wear it while you cook dinner. Do you feel it fits comfortably on your shoulders? Take it hiking. You can use a good beginner backpack as a commuter bag. Pay attention to the fit and movement of your backpack when hiking uphill and downhill. Does it bounce? Do you want the straps to be tightened or relaxed? Is it able to handle a sweaty backpack?

Learn more: How to choose a hiking backpack

Break-in hiking boots

Sneakers, trail running shoes, and hiking boots are all acceptable footwear on a day hike; brand new shoes are not, says Carol Christensen. Blisters can develop quickly from just-out-of-the-box boots. Every pair of shoes is different and may require a little bit of work to get used to. Leather boots might take a few weeks to break in. After a few days, you can take your shoes on a walk around the neighborhood or house and then go for a run along the trail. Read the full guide on how to break in hiking boots.

Trekking poles

Trekking poles are a good idea, especially if you have prior knee or ankle injuries. As you begin to strengthen your stabilizing muscles, I recommend trekking poles. You might consider adding them to your hike as you gain weight or increase the elevation. If you don’t have trekking poles then you can make hiking sticks by yourself.

Hiking food and hydration

You may only need one liter of water, depending on how long your adventure is. Camelbaks are not recommended for me as I fear the bladders could leak onto my gear and camera. I prefer Nalgene water containers to Camelbaks. To reduce water weight when hiking on trails with water, you might consider bringing a lightweight filter. You should also pack water and snacks for hiking. Your body requires calories to walk, so make sure you have some snacks. Nuts, such as cashews and peanuts, are my favorite trail snacks. For a more substantial lunch, I will pack a PB&J sandwich and a few bars. I don’t know what I will crave, so I make sure to pack various sugary snacks like gummies and savory snacks like cheese and salami.

You can also pack stuff bags

Christensen organizes like-minded items (First Aid, food, sunscreen, etc.) into various bags for organization-sake. You can use Ziploc bags to hold bulkier items. Compression stuff packs She claims she can shrink the largest of things, such as sleeping bags.

Pack socks

Christensen says that socks are more important than shoes in many ways. Socks made of cotton retain moisture, which can lead to rubbing and blisters. Instead, pack woolen socks and synthetic blends that wick away sweat and keep your feet dry.

Take empty grocery bags

Christensen says that they are plentiful and do a great job containing all the dirty and grubby stuff. A towel is also kept in her car. It is essential to dry and clean your gear regularly to make it last longer.

Navigation: Maps, Compass

It is essential to know where you’re going. For longer trails with multiple junctions, it is necessary to have the right tools to find your way. You can print or purchase a map of the area where you intend to hike. It is even better if the map has the trail you want. Make sure you know how to read a topographic map before you go and learn how to find where you are on the map as well. You can find so many resources which will help you plan your hike. These include Gaia GPS and All Trails.

Choose calorie-dense foods

Weight is essential when embarking on longer treks. Wesley Trimble is the program outreach manager and communications manager. American Hiking Society. Granola bars and nuts are great options.

Don’t forget to leave-no-trace

It is essential to learn the best practices for preserving the outdoors for future generations when we recreate. To dispose of your toilet tissue, use a ziplock bag. To store used TP, add a ziplock bag inside the bag. You can even use a handkerchief or pee rag to store your TP and wash it after every trip. Trash bag – I prefer to have a plastic shopping bag, or even better, a zipper bag for my trash. Having a place for your trash will help you avoid accidental littering.

Use your creativity to find ways to hydrate

The amount of water you need will depend on many factors, including your physiology and outside temperature. Trimble, an expert hiker, carries one liter of water for every four miles of strenuous hiking. For longer hikes, it is more important to bring a water purifier or filter. Trimble states that some cleaners weigh only 3 ounces. Around-the-waist hydration bladders also help keep extra water accessible on the trail.

You will need to pack for the order of your day

Trimble’s sleeping bag and food to cook are all included in his pack. What’s the bonus? Bonus: Placing heavier items in the bottom of your bag helps to balance your center of gravity. Elliott suggests that you also consider putting something soft like a lower fleece in your bag for comfort. Also, remember to pack water, sunscreen, and sunglasses for the day, so they are easily accessible throughout your day.

How to avoid overpacking

Now you are done pack for hiking. Overpackers who are chronically overpacking should be aware that your backpack and everything inside can become an extension of you when you’re out on the trail. Even if you aren’t an ultralight backpacker, less is more. Are you struggling to lose weight? This is a great exercise.

  • You will need everything for your hike. This includes the sleeping bag, clothing, food, shelter, and reading materials.
  • Place the essentials in a separate pile. Do not move luxury items into the essential bank.
  • Now, get rid of at least half the gear in the “luxury pile.” You don’t require this stuff.

You can treat yourself to extra luxury items if you have enough space in your bag after packing. If your pack still has too much gear after filling, you can keep reducing the number of luxuries that you have until it fits all. You’ll get there, don’t worry.

Check out: What to wear hiking

How to lift your loaded backpack

Beginners make the standard error of lifting a bag by its shoulder strap. This can cause damage to your shoulder harness and make it more difficult to control the pack when you attempt to lift it onto your back.

These steps will help you lift even heavy loads from the ground.

  • To make it easier to slide on the bag, loosen all your straps.
  • Place your pack on the ground in a straight position.
  • Place your feet in front of the back panel.
  • Grab the haul loop (the loop of webbing at the top and bottom of your pack).
  • To control the pack, lift it to your thigh.
  • Slide your arm and shoulder through the shoulder strap until you feel your shoulder supported by the padding.
  • Now, lean forward and lift the backpack onto your back. Now, slip the other shoulder strap through the hand that held the haul loop.
  • Get ready to make the usual adjustments for your fit.


If you’re new to hiking, be conservative when plan and pack for hiking. Before packing your backpack, make a detailed list and note what you do and don’t need. This will help you to fine-tune your packing for future trips. Pick the right hiking shoes and clothing, and get a backpack or daypack to carry everything you need on your day hike. To travel light, avoid excess weight. When deciding which items to cut, don’t forget about insulation and food.

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