Hiking Packing Guide: The Ultimate checklist for your hiking trip

Hiking Packing Guide: The Ultimate checklist for your hiking trip


Hiking is one of the best activities that you can do with your family, friends, or yourself. It is relaxing and fun. You can learn to appreciate nature and its wonders, and a perfect time to stay away from city life.

When engaging in this kind of activity, there is a need for major preparations. Starting from the destination down to the gears and equipment that you have to bring for the trip.

Hiking packing tips & tricks

There is nothing quite like the thrill and adventure of the great outdoors. The growth in adventure and eco-travel provides new possibilities for hikers and backpackers to experience nature, and with the latest developments in hiking gear, the experience is even easier.

For the novice hiker, we offer the following 9 tips to be considered before your hike trip:

Invest in equipment

Investing in the right gear and equipment will increase the comfort of your hiking experience.

  • Backpacks: Invest in high quality, internal frame backpacks suitable for your body size and shape. These will last longer, are lighter, gives better ventilation, and will distribute the weight of the pack more evenly. A specialist retailer such as Cotswold Outdoor should be able to demonstrate how to pack, strap, and adjust your backpack for maximum comfort.
  • Shoes: hiking shoes will offer greater comfort than your normal sneakers, especially hiking boots with ankle support to prevent your ankle from twisting on uneven surfaces. Your feet expand a little bit after long walking, so we suggest to try on shoes in the afternoon and wear thick hiking socks as you would normally wear. You need to choose styles made of breathable, waterproof materials.
  • Gear: Your hiking shop is a treasure trove of useful items. Must-haves include quick-dry, ultra-light towels; headlamps (much better than torches as you can keep your hands free when hiking at night); ultra-light sleeping bags; base layers; a rain cover; compass; sunscreen; First Aid kit; Swiss Army knife; drink bottles; rip-stop nylon tape. You can do your research and shop online through Cotswold Outdoor.

Pack carefully

The word for packing is ‘multi-purpose’. Choose items that serve different functions and remove duplication. Example: A Swiss Army knife and an additional ‘spork’ make up your cutlery set so no need to pack an additional knife for the evening meal; your quick-dry towel may also serve as a pillow, etc.

Pack the items which will be used the least at the bottom of the pack and those used more frequently at the top for easy access.

Plan your trip

Making decisions on the hop can add excitement to the adventure for some, but in most cases, careful planning will keep you away from frustrations. Map the route and plot in suitable rest stops. Research where you can buy food and drinks along the way to reduce the amount you pack. Plan your meals and snacks so you purchased what you need to stave off hunger. Make a contingency plan, just in case. If traveling through different countries ensure you have local currency in small denominations. Take photocopies of your passport with you, and be sure to have travel insurance.

Look after your nutritional needs

Complex carbohydrates (whole grains) will provide you with the energy you need. Consider dried fruits that contain the same nutrients as fresh fruit but are lighter and take up less space. Energy is released from Low GI (glycemic index) foods slower than high GI foods, so choose low GI foods to keep you fuelled for longer. These include nuts, certain cereals, most fruits, most vegetables, legumes, and yogurt. Keep hydrated with lots of water.

What to pack for hiking?

Hiking essentials / Hiking equipment / Hiking accessories

Casually hiking a nearby waterfall? Or planning to conquer a difficult summit? Whatever the case is, preparing and bringing proper equipment is highly important. The outdoors is a very unpredictable place and the smallest things can mean the difference between a minor mishap and a major dilemma.

Be sure you come with these top hiking essentials for a day hike:

Sun Protection

Even if the forecast says it’s going to be cloudy, it doesn’t mean you don’t need proper protection from the sun. Good sunscreen, polarized sunglasses, SPF lip balm, and a brimmed hat are all essentials to keep yourself protected. A bad sunburn and cracked lips aren’t things you want to have after a fun day hiking.

Food and Snacks

You’ll need all the energy you can get to prepare your body for a day hike. So after a good nutritious meal beforehand, be sure to bring enough snacks to sustain your calories while on the trail. Energy bars, dried fruits, jerky, and nuts are good choices. If you want something heavier for lunch or dinner, bring along sandwiches or freeze-dried meals. Don’t forget to bring enough water, too!


This is a no brainer. You’ll want to keep yourself hydrated throughout the duration of your hike. Water will cool you down when it’s hot and help keep you warm when the weather gets cooler. Water also helps avoid injuries as it helps keep the muscles and joints working properly.

Extra Clothing

The weather and temperature can change quickly outdoors, so it’s better to have extra clothing handy (to change into or to layer). It’s ideal to bring an extra layer of insulation clothing to help you keep warm in case the temperature drops.

First Aid Kit

Safety should be your top priority when you’re outdoors, that’s why packing a first aid kit is important. You can purchase a pre-packaged kit which is a lightweight option and usually carry complete supplies for minor injuries.


Even if you don’t plan on going past dark, always bring a good source of light. Oftentimes, hikes take longer than expected. Also, bring a small fire starter kit in case you need to create fire during your hike.


A compass and a map are a must-have for every hike, even if you’re hiking with a group or a guide. It will be useful for when you get lost or if you need to find your way back. Just be sure you learn how to use them beforehand!


A survival knife is another amazing item to have. Knives can be used for many different situations. A knife usually comes with a few accessories that you may need out in the wild such as; a few matches, some fishing line, and a fishing hook.

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Hiking backpack

Having a great hiking backpack is essential to having a good hiking trip. A good lightweight backpack that you can keep on your back for long hikes can help to save you hassle such as back trouble and will allow you to see more, be more comfortable and also carry more during the trip.

A hiking backpack is the foundation of your hiking gear. You will usually need to be carrying a fair amount of equipment when you’re planning on hiking. For a full day hike or a multi-day hike, you need to keep a fair number of rations and gear with you so that you may survive and be comfortable throughout the course of the trip. Luckily there are these days new lightweight materials which can really cut down the size of the pack allowing you to carry more and feel comfortable even when you are walking for the whole day.

Lightweight hiking backpack

A lightweight backpack is essential for efficiency. It is important to pack everything intelligently. When you are on the trail, your backpack will carry everything you’ll need to sustain yourself in the wilderness.

Here are 10 tips that can help you lighten the load but still carry everything you need.

#1 – Examine current gear

Check every piece of your gear. Try to weigh them first. This will give you an idea of the weight of your load. You will be able to better decide which items to keep in the bag and which ones to skip.

#2 – Lightest equipment in the bag

Select the lightest equipment for your bag. Choose the lightest sleeping bag, backpack, and shelter per your budget.

#3 – Keep yourself light

In summers, you can’t predict how the weather will treat you. It can be hot… or it can be too hot. Wear light clothes and soft boots on your hike as they’ll make you feel more comfortable.

#4 – Only select what you need

“Pack things you think you will need, then get rid of half of it.”

This is the most important tip. Pack only what you need, not what might be useful. For example, your laptop is a luxury and not a must-have to bring on a hike, just skip it. Don’t carry things just because you think they can come in handy. Most of the time those “handy” objects are never used, but you end up carrying them all the way.

#5 – Consume the heaviest food first

Food and snacks take a significant amount of space and weight. Carrying them for a long hike trip can make you tired. To lighten your load, eat the heaviest and freshest items first.

#6 – Try light options for liquids

Try to take juices and other liquids in powder form. Carrying the liquid bottles will add a significant amount of weight. For soaps, you can go for dry, thin, paper soaps and other dehydrated alternatives. If you’re taking water bottles, place them in the side pockets of your backpack.

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#7 – Survival skills

If you’re experienced, you’ll get to know how “survival” skills help you overcome many situations with minimal equipment or supplies. This reduces your backpack load. And if you are not experienced, don’t worry! Head out and explore! From small to big, each challenge will impart upon you the tactics you’ll need to deal with any difficult situations as expertise is acquired through experience. The more you hike, the more experience you gain, and the more innovative you become. The more experience you have, the more exacting you become on carrying the right “stuff”.

#8 – Don’t hang extra stuff

Always try to stay away from hanging extra items from the outside of your pack. They will continue to move from one side to another while you hike. This can shake off your balance, can make unwanted noise, and can catch on tree branches or brush.

#9 – Distribute weight

* Start packing the hip belt and shoulder strap pockets first. These pockets are always an easily accessible and great place to put small, important items that you’ll need throughout the day.

* You can put a few energy bars and snacks in a hip pocket as it’s important to have lots of small meals throughout the day.

* You can put your sunglasses, camera, lip balm, or sunblock in your shoulder strap pouch.

#10 – Use common sense to pack

Have a common sense of what you need to carry. You’ll see, this is a process that is mastered as you gain experience. Make a list of all the items that you think will be useful during the hike. Try to take along multipurpose items.

Before, during, and after your trip, take your time to learn about the packing habits and get to know what items you used. Taking the time to analyze what you packed and if it was useful will help to reduce the amount of unnecessary weight and help you become practical on your next outing.

A lightweight backpack plays a very important role in a successful and revitalized hiking adventure. Carrying light loads and a minimum amount of gear makes your bag much easier haul and less time-consuming to pack.

Hiking first aid kit

A hiking or backpacking first aid kit is an important and very essential part of the hiking trips. There are no doctors or clinics at the top of a mountain and you need to know how to treat minor injuries.

A hiking first aid kit should be able to treat most minor injuries such as cuts, scrapes, small burns, slivers, bee stings, and minor joint and muscle pain.

Check your supplies before you leave, make sure you are well stocked with the basic supplies of cotton, bandages, alcohol, tweezers, pain and fever relief medicine, and insect bite relief for the kids if they are hiking with you.

A backpacking first aid kit is a slimmed-down version of a car camping first aid kit or what you keep at home. Because weight and space are at a premium you need to really decide what you need to take with you.

Make sure you have checked expiry dates on medicines, and any liquids are carefully wrapped. We also suggest wrapping some duct tape around your magnifying glass to save weight and space.

If you are unfamiliar with how to treat minor injuries consider taking along a small first aid book with you or doing some research to educate yourself so that you are prepared while you’re away.

You need to take a hiking or backpacking first aid kit with you. What you put in it depends on a few things:

  • where you are going
  • how long you will be away
  • what the weather is most likely to be
  • the activities you are planning
  • the age of any children with you

Duct tape is an invaluable item, especially hiking and it has hundreds of uses. Always bring some duct tape with you.

You can use this first aid kit list as a guide and modify it for your family’s needs.

  • cotton swabs or balls
  • bandages of all sizes
  • alcohol
  • tweezers
  • antibacterial lotion
  • over the counter allergy relief
  • joint and muscle pain relief
  • tensor wrap
  • thermometer
  • matches
  • cold compresses
  • magnifying glass
  • disposable warm packs
  • duct tape
  • multi-use utility knife
  • emergency blanket
  • ear and eye drops
  • pocket mirror

Take your time picking up a hiking first aid kit. Many items can be used for more than one purpose and you will be very thankful for being well prepared if anything happens that required first aid treatment.

Things to bring on a hike: Food for hiking

Not many people give much thought to what to pack for your hiking expedition. Day hikers are especially notorious for being unprepared. I’ve come up with 10 foods that you should always have in your pack. It’s very important to have the right nutrition in your pack. Not having the proper meal plan could lead to dizziness, tiredness, nausea, and cramps.

#1 – Tuna with crackers.

It’s very easy to buy small cans of tuna with the crackers already packed with the tuna. It’s recommended you buy the cans with the pull-up top so you don’t have to carry a can opener. Some tuna packages come with mayo and relish.

#2 – Hard Cheese and crackers.

I would particularly recommend a sharp cheddar cheese as this tends to withstand the warm weather better than other cheeses. Bring along whole wheat crackers to add some flavor.

#3 – Peanut Butter.

Peanut butter provides a lot of different options. I would recommend you repackage the peanut butter in a squeeze tube, which is quite readily available at most camping stores.

#4 – Candy Bars.

This is really only recommended for moderate conditions. Under hot conditions obviously, the candy bars will melt. Candy bars provide a quick burst of energy and of course, everyone loves the taste of candy bars.

#5 – Fresh fruit.

I suggest to carry fruits that can take rolling around in your backpack, you can find bananas, peaches, and plums less than desirable when you sit down to eat. Fruit gets very high marks for a nutritional carbohydrate fix, and almost everyone has a favorite fruit.

#6 – Beef jerky.

If you can get the real beef jerky I would recommend that, otherwise packing a slim jim in your pack would be okay too. Beef jerky is a sure bet, extremely lightweight, and offers a very good balance of fat, protein, and carbohydrates.

#7 – Dried fruit.

Dried fruit is more durable than fresh fruit and they pack more caloric bang per ounce. They are also flexible enough to be used with peanut butter or cheese.

#8 – Granola.

Granola has become one of the go-to foods for hikers and comes in a variety of flavors ranging from honey, and nut to more exotic combinations like blueberry or cherry. Loaded with fat and carbohydrates, granola is a fantastic food source out on the trail.

#9 – Energy Bars.

Sports nutrition energy bars are a great food source out on the trail. but, they can be expensive, so if you hike a lot I would recommend buying them in bulk. If you are fortunate enough to live where there is a Trader Joe’s, they offer great prices on energy bars.

#10 – Trail mix.

A lot of times I love making trail mix myself. I find it just tastes better. A combination of any of your favorites including M&M’s, chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, Cheerios, Chex cereal, raisins, peanuts, cashews, and dried coconut are some of my favorites. This is definitely the best food to have on the trail.

What to wear for hiking?

It is not enough to just wear the usual clothes during hiking. There are required hiking clothes for hiking. The clothes are the most essential item for any hiker because it serves as protection from any kind of harm while outdoors.

Hiking clothes

There are two kinds of clothing for hiking, hiking clothes for women and men. The layering system of clothes is usually used by hikers for the reason that it is lighter and flexible compared to carrying a separate piece for every contingency. And normally works better compared to trying to make one piece for each need encountered. The layering systems of clothes are:

o Baselayer – the innermost clothing layer next to skin

o Insulation layer – the middle clothing layer gives warmth to your body

o Outer layer – the outer layer is the clothing that protects the other layer from rain, snow, or wind.

Hiking clothes for women

The hiking clothes for women must keep them warm, dry, and protected from any harm and different weather conditions, terrain conditions, and other conditions that you will encounter during your hike. You must take into consideration the weight and bulk of the clothing in buying hiking clothes. Lightweight hiking clothes are more efficient and very comfy to use. The hikers must also choose the right hiking clothing to protect their torso and extremities.

Here are some suggestions for choosing hiking clothes including hiking footwear.

o Outdoor clothing – you can be exposed to different conditions during hiking. It is important to choose and wear hiking clothing that will protect from any harm from the outdoor. You must also remember the purpose of your outdoor clothing, like maintaining your thermal balance.

o The three-layer system – this is the best way to protect yourself from some weather. This is discussed in the second paragraph of this article.

o The appropriate hiking socks and hiking boots – you must choose appropriate hiking socks that fit your hiking boots. This is basically for the protection of the feet.

o The hiking pants – this is the perfect clothing to maintain your thermal equilibrium and protect your extremities.

o Hiking shirts or jackets – Shirts & jackets will give protection to your torso. Choose the hiking shirt and hiking jackets that really suits your body.

o Hiking vest – hikers usually use hiking vest. This gives warmth to the body also.

o Hiking rain clothing – this is the best clothing during the cold and rainy season. This will keep your body warm and dry.

o Gloves – this will protect your hands.

o Hats and scarves – used for head protection, you can also use some headgears that can protect your head.

Hiking clothes for men

We created the list below as a general guide to what you should be looking to acquire when getting your hiking clothes together for a day hike.

Hiking Trousers or Hiking Shorts

Suitable hiking trousers are a must. Waterproof is always a good idea. I like ones with air vent’s in them which can be opened to allow better air circulation in to keep your legs dry as your sweat is allowed to wick away from the skin. I also recommend hiking trousers with detachable bottoms so they can easily double up as shorts.

Hiking Fleece

A must for cooler temperatures. A good hiking fleece will keep you warm and dry under the right Waterproof hiking jacket.

Base Layers

You need to be sure you have adequate base layers. The first base layer is next to your skin so, like your hiking trousers, you want breathability to let sweat wick away comfortably. The colder it is, the more layers you need. Always good to carry an extra one or two with you just in case.


If you will be wading through marsh, snow, or water, Gaiters are really useful to help keep your feet and your boots drier.

Hiking Hat

If it’s cold when you’re hiking a good woolen hat is a good addition to have. Worn under the hood of your waterproof jacket, it will keep the head nice and toasty! Alternatively, if it’s blistering hot and the sun is beating down, a baseball hat will protect you from any harmful rays.

Hiking Gloves

These need to be waterproof, wind-resistant and ideally leaving you with some mobility in your hands for grasping, opening, etc.

Hiking Socks

Good socks are as important as good boots. It is worth getting good hiking socks that complement your hiking boots or shoes to ensure maximum comfort and avoid the dreaded blister!

Hiking Boots and Shoes

Of key importance when hiking. You need the right hiking boots or shoes for the climate and weather you are hiking in. It needs to be a good fit and your boot or shoe should be well broken in. It is a good idea to break them in, in your house, or around the block before ever using them on a hike. Always wear your hiking socks when breaking a hiking boot in!

Waterproof Hiking Jacket

Really depends on what climate you are hiking in but invariably it will rain at some point so you need to have the right waterproof hiking jacket with you. There are many options to choose from, many of which have detachable layers and so can be adapted to be used all year-round.

Hiking FAQs

Q: What should I pack for a 3-day hike?

Navigation: (map, compass).
Insulation, layers.
First-aid kit
Survival knife.
Food & snacks.
Your Smartphone

Q: What should I pack for a day hike?

(2 water bottles)
Snacks & fruits.
Convertible Pants.
Trail-ready Boots & Shoes.
Fully Charged Phone.

Q: What should you wear on a hike?

The key here is layers: a base layer with insulating properties such as wool or budget-friendly synthetic materials; an insulating, removable middle layer; and a waterproof/windproof outer layer. Hiking boots, warm socks, a synthetic beanie hat, and gloves are also key to a comfy winter hike.

Q: What are the best leggings for hiking?

Arc’teryx Sabria.
Fjallraven Abisko.
Columbia Titan Peak.
Smartwool Ph.D.
Icebreaker Comet.

Q: What is the best backpack for day hiking?

Osprey Talon 22 & Tempest 20.
Deuter Speed Lite 20.
Patagonia Nine Trails 28.
Osprey Stratos 24 & Sirrus 24.
Osprey Daylite.
Camelbak Fourteener 24.

Q: Why are first aid kits important for hiking?

Hiking can lead to many kinds of injuries, from a minor scrape to a large wound. The most common hiking injuries include blisters, scrapes, bug bites, and sunburn, but dehydration, hypothermia, and snake bites are also potential dangers.

Q: What equipment do you need for hiking?

Sunglasses, sunscreen a hat.
Spare warm clothing.
Headlamp and/or handheld torch.
First-aid kit.

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