Enjoy a day of hiking with our helpful list and tips about backpacking basics.
Whether you’re looking for an afternoon outdoors or an overnight stay in the wild, packing the right gear can help you be prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws at you. Find out what you need to have a fun and safe hiking trip with our backpacking basics.
Two liters of water per person is standard for a long day. If you’ll be sweating a lot, replenish your electrolytes by adding an electrolyte powder to some of your water. If you know you’ll be near a reliable water source, bring a water filter or water purification tablets with you.
Do not underestimate how much fuel your body will need for the day. Bring extra food with you on your backpacking trip. You’ll be surprised how hungry the hike can make you. If you’re worried about space and weight in your day pack, consider dehydrated food options. Dried fruit is a great snack for hiking. Trail mix, beef jerky, granola bars and snack nuts will also give you the energy to keep backpacking.
If you’re planning on hiking into the night, you will want a flashlight or headlamp. You’ll especially want one if you’re camping overnight. Whichever source of light you choose, don’t forget extra batteries. Even if you don’t plan to be out in the dark, you may want to bring a light to be prepared for an emergency.
Accidents can happen while you’re hiking. It could be a scraped knee, a bump on the head or something more serious. With a camping first aid kit, you’ll be prepared for minor cuts and bruises.
Think warm, dry layers. Anticipate the worst weather conditions and pack for it. A good waterproof breathable shell is great in any environment. Wearing moisture-wicking clothes will help you feel more comfortable. The clothing wicks the sweat away from your body. That way, you’re not hiking in damp clothes all day. Also consider bringing a poncho in case it rains.
You will also want to wear the proper footwear. Choose your hiking boots or shoes based on the terrain you’ll be hiking. If you’re going to be on a well-established path, you’ll only need trail shoes. If you’re going to be exploring more rocky terrain, you will want to consider buying standard trail hiking boots. Hiking boots will provide you with sturdy ankle support and protection.
Take a map and compass. Your phone most likely has a built-in GPS, but your battery can run out. It’s easy to get turned around in unfamiliar settings. Just remember, the earth’s magnetic field won’t run out of batteries on you!
Protecting yourself from the sun is a must when backpacking on a day hike. Wear sunscreen, and make sure to bring more with you to reapply as the day goes on. Wear SPF protective lip balm. Consider wearing a hat with a brim to help further protect your scalp and face from UV rays. Nothing’s worse than coming back from a day of backpacking with a painful sun burn.
You will want a waterproof pouch to store your matches or lighter. You can also buy waterproof matches. Emergency fire starters are also handy if you’re going to be exploring unfamiliar terrain. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Carry a multi-tool on every adventure. You never know what you might need it for! You may need to repair equipment, open food packaging or cut sticks to build a fire or shelter.
When Mother Nature strikes on a backpacking hike, you will want to be protected from the elements. An emergency blanket, tarp, or other makeshift shelter can be a lifesaver.
Packing Your Hiking Pack
Choosing the right size pack for backpacking is essential. You want to fit everything you need in the pack, but you also want to be comfortable. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is incorrectly packing your pack. Find a day pack that has adequate space. If you’re going to be carrying a tent, it’s a good idea to divvy up the components with your fellow hikers. That way, one person isn’t carrying the tent on their own.
You will want to pack the heaviest equipment in the middle of the pack, and lighter equipment around it. This keeps the heaviest part at your center of gravity, alleviating stress on your body. Store maps, snacks and other things you will need throughout the day in the side pockets. You will be able to access them easily without tearing apart your pack.