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Packing For Hiking

Get ready to pack your bags and head out for exploring the wilderness! If you only had one bag though, what would you pack to take on your adventure? There are definitely essentials that you should not forget and things that you will forget. No worries though! Here is how to be packing for hiking! We’ll help you pack smart and light while still bringing everything you need for a great hiking trip!

Day Hiking

Pre-Trip Planning

Even though spontaneous adventures are fun, for a daylong hike it’s important to map out where you’ll be headed! Make sure everyone who is going out with you for the day trip is on the same page as well and knows where to go. Establish checkpoints along the hike in case someone should get separated from the group. This way, everyone has a checkpoint to meet up at to regroup. Before your hike, also make sure you have the right gear! You want a lightweight backpack to pack your things in and comfy hiking boots that are broken-in. If you bought new hiking boots, you need to wear them before your trip! Getting blisters on your feet from new boots on a hike is not fun! Also make sure you wear high socks or wool socks to keep your feet warm and to prevent rubbing. If your hike is during warm weather, make sure your clothing is made of thin, lightweight, sweat-wicking material that will keep you cool on your hike. If your hike is during cold weather, make sure you have proper clothing to keep you warm!


Packing for a day hike can seem harder than it is. Though it’s labeled as a day hike, pack for the worst-case scenario.

10 Essentials to Pack

  • Water

  • Nutritional food

  • Sun protection

  • Flashlight/Headlight

  • Map and compass or GPS device (Make sure your map is waterproof)

  • Dress in layers

  • First-aid kit

  • Fire starter kit

  • Multi-tool and repair kit (Make sure your multi-tool has a knife!)

  • Emergency shelter

Other things you can pack for “Just In Case” moments

  • Rain coat and rain pants

  • Toilet paper and a garden trowel to bury waste

  • Whistle

  • Extra clothes for warmth (fleece-lined and don’t forget extra socks!)

  • Water-filtration pump

  • Duct tape

  • Carabiner

  • Rope

Hiking Gear for Dogs (For long hikes, consider getting a doggy pack!)

  • Adjustable leash (keep dogs leashed at all times!)

  • Collapsible doggy bowls

  • Dog food

  • Water

Make sure you pack light! There is nothing worse than being halfway through your hike and realizing that your pack is way too heavy! Stick to packing the essentials and just-in-case extras. When you pack, run through these questions: Do I really need to pack that? Will I need this on my hike? Will this be used on my hike? Is this too heavy for me to carry? Running through questions like these will help you pack a lighter pack! Once everything is together and checked twice, head out on your day hike adventure!


For you extremists out there, backpacking is for you! It’s the ultimate camping experience and a great way to get out and enjoy nature! Backpacking is not as simple as a day hike, but requires the same amount, if not more, of time, effort, and thought to go into it as a day hike.

Pre-Trip Planning

Before you head out for your epic backpacking experience, you first need to plan it! How many days will you be gone? Who all is joining you on your adventure? Where are you going? Which trails are you taking? Much more complex than a day hike, make daily goals for your trip and try to stick to them! Meet your hiking mileage quota for the day or plan a certain spot you want to stop along the way. Have fun though! Try not to wear yourself out the first day and take it nice and slow so you can enjoy the whole experience! You always want to make camp before dusk falls so you have time to set up your shelter. Also give yourself time to set up your campsite and enjoy the surrounding area! Make sure for this trip that your backpack is sturdy, comfortable, and at a packed weight you can carry. For hiking boots, you need to make sure they are worn in! You will not enjoy your backpacking experience if you have blisters! Also, when you know when you’ll be heading out on your trip, check the weather and pack accordingly! Make sure you also research the area you’ll be backpacking and plan a couple trip activities to add extra entertainment! Before you head out on your extended hiking adventure, you’ll want to train for it! Practice hiking a couple miles with your pack before your trip! Work out and make sure you are in the best shape you can be before heading out!


If you are backpacking alone, make sure someone else knows your trip plans and stops along the way in case of emergencies. Make sure you pack as light as possible if you decided to hike alone too. If there is a group going on the backpacking trip, divide the heavy items among each backpack. Have someone take part of the tent, have someone else carry a few pots and pans … etc. Along with dividing up the heavy items, you’ll want to divvy up food items as well to make pack loads all around the same weight before you add your personal items.


  • 10 Essentials from Day Hiking list (see above)

  • Clothes (clothes to stay warm and cool)

    • Hat

    • Mittens

    • Fleece

    • Long-sleeve shirt

    • Sweat-wicking shirts

    • Quick-drying pants

    • Sweat-wicking t-shirts

    • Long johns (good for sleepwear)

    • Wool socks (bring extra)

    • Long socks (bring extra)

    • Wicking underwear

    • Hat or bandana

  • Sturdy backpack

  • Day pack (for quick day hikes)

  • Sandals

  • Pack Cover

  • Tent

  • Tarp

  • Sleeping bag

  • Sleeping pad

  • Pillow case (stuff clean clothes in it)

  • Fuel

  • Pot and pan

  • Bowls and cups

  • Utensils

  • Meals

  • Portable stove

  • Nylon cord (50' for hanging food)

  • Bags for food to hang in (bear-free campsite!)

  • Water-filtration pump

  • Small tubs for sink and dish cleaning

  • Bug spray

  • Toilet paper

  • Duct tape

  • Carabiner

  • Rain coat and rain pants

  • Whistle

  • Toiletries

  • Biodegradable soap

  • Towel

  • Small shovel for burying waste

Optional Add-To-Your-Bag List

  • Binoculars

  • Outdoor journal and pen

  • Camera (with extra batteries)

  • Cards

  • Sunglasses

  • Fishing pole and tackle (must have fishing permit)

Emergency Situations

Here are a couple “How To’s” on some situations that may arise while backpacking!

How To Treat Poison Ivy

  1. Wash skin immediately with lukewarm, soapy water.

  2. Remove clothing and wash.

  3. Wash everything that may have the oils on its surface.

  4. Do NOT scratch! Scratching can cause infection.

How To Prevent Hypothermia

  • Cover up! Body heat escapes the quickest through your head, so make sure you wear a hat and cover your face and neck. Cover your hands with mittens, not gloves! Wearing mittens allows your fingers to be closer together instead of separated.

  • Make sure you are not engaging in activities that will cause you to sweat. Sweaty, soggy clothes and cold weather will make you lose heat more quickly!

  • Be sure to wear layers of clothing! Wool or silk for the inner layers will help keep heat in. Next, wear lightweight and loose-fitting clothing and tightly woven outer clothing for wind and water protection.

  • Be sure to stay as dry as possible! If your clothing becomes wet, don’t stay in it! Change into dry clothing as soon as possible! It is easy for hands and feet to become wet quicker, so keep an eye on those areas and put on dry socks or mittens if needed.

How To Fend Off Wild Animals

  • First, make yourself look bigger! Wave your arms, unzip your coat and hold it out with your hands, make your stance wider.

  • Start yelling and making noises! If pots and pans are handy, start banging them together. With all the commotion, it should confuse the animal.

  • If sticks are around, grab a stick or two and smack them together! You can also throw sticks at the animal and continually yell and sound loud to confuse it and scare it off. Throwing rocks at it as well will help in scaring it off.

As you prepare for your great journey, whether it’s one day or longer, make sure to go over your packing lists more than once so you don’t forget anything! Also, before you head out, make sure you check with yourself that you are mentally and physically ready for the trip! Overall, have fun and unleash the inner hiker in you!

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