A guide to packing light for a multi-day hike
A multi-day hike is great for mental and physical healthy because it offers the opportunity to get away from the everyday buzz of your busy life and routine. But the last thing you want is a heavy pack to carry. At the same time, you’ll want to ensure you stay warm and safe. Here is a guide to packing light for a multi-day backpacking rip.
Backpack or rucksack
First you’ll need a backpack that is sturdy enough to cope with a full load but also comfortable and lightweight. A pack of around 40l is about right if you plan to carry a tent, sleeping kit, spare clothes, stove and food.
Make sure the pack fits well and has a good quality waist belt, cushioned shoulder straps and a chest strap. If the pack is not waterproof, you will want to pack all your kit in dry bags inside the rucksack.
Adjustable straps are essential in order to avoid muscle pain and injuries on a hiking trip and a range of outer access pockets are useful too so that you do not need to search through the entire contents of your pack when looking for items such as sun cream, snacks or a water bottle.
Tent and sleeping kit
Another essential item is a tent, or perhaps a bivvy bag or hammock. You need something to keep you warm and dry for an overnight in the outdoors. Look for lightweight products and if there are two of you going on a rip make sure you split the tent in half for carrying.
You’ll also need a sleeping bag and some kind of sleeping mat, perhaps a lightweight inflatable thermarest.
A great tip for staying warm at night is to sleep while wearing an insulated jacket and thermal tights. This usually means you can carry a lighter weight sleeping bag but still stay warm at night.
Choose lightweight but also think about warmth when deciding what to buy/pack for a backpacking trip.
Make sure you wear good quality hiking boots, too. Boots should be worn in and comfortable so that you do not need to worry about blisters during your trip. Carrying a pack with overnight kit is hard work so boots should be comfortable and sturdy.
Most leading outdoor retailers stock clothing options that have been designed specifically for outdoor activities. These clothing options should be lightweight, durable, adaptable to changing temperatures and designed to protect against insects and UV rays.
When packing for a multi-day hike it is essential to research the climate and weather forecast for your trip.
Unless you are hiking where it is guaranteed to be dry you will require a lightweight waterproof jacket and trousers. A spare baselayer and socks are useful because when you are hiking you will get warm and sweaty. Add in a lightweight insulated jacket, too, for chillier evenings outdoors.
Food and water
You’ll need a lightweight stove for cooking (including fuel, such as gas), as well as enough water for drinking and mixing with food. If you know there will be water near a camp spot you might choose to take a water filter and carry less water with you. If water will be scarce it’s vital you carry water with you.
Remember that each litre of water is 1kg of weight but also remember that hydration is vital for survival.
Choose foods that are light to carry but also high in energy. There are plenty of camping food products that are ideal for a long hiking trip. Foods that are dehydrated will be lightweight. Another option is to take products such as pasta or couscous because they are light to carry and filling when cooked in water.
Add other food products such as powdered coffee and milk, high calorie snacks and foods that are easy to eat while on the move.
Don’t forget a lightweight cup, plate and spork (spoon/fork combination) too.
Toiletries and first aid
It depends on how long you will be away but it is a good idea to take some items for maintaining cleanliness, such as wet wipes or anti-bacterial gel. A toothbrush and a small tube of toothpaste will make your trip a bit more comfortable, too.
Make sure you have the means to toilet in the outdoors and the ability to bury what you create.
A small first aid kit with items such as blister plasters, painkillers and insect repellent is advisable.
A couple of luxuries
Most backpackers take a couple of extra items simply to improve their enjoyment or comfort. For example, you might choose to take a small plastic bottle of whisky for an evening dram as the sun sets, or perhaps a bar of chocolate.
If you have the space, how about an inflatable pillow (instead of using a dry bag filled with used clothes!)?
Packing light will offer the best chance of an enjoyable multi-day hike. With so many lightweight hiking tools and backpacks now available on the market, now is the perfect time to take the plunge and start preparing for your next outdoor adventure.