So you finally decided to pack your bags and embark on an unknown adventure through wilderness. There are some things you need to consider before you start packing. Doing your research and planning the itinerary is where you should start. The distance, weather, walking hours…. It would be great to consider getting into shape, and no, you do not have to be an Olympic triathlete to do a long distance hike – good health and moderate fitness and you’ll be just alright for hiking a few hundred miles. But then again, nothing will prepare you for hiking like hiking.
Your backpack will differ very much depending on the weather you’ll be walking through. Winter gear, clothing in particular, can take up to double the space of summer gear in your backpack. So, first thing on your mind when packing should be: pack smart. And by that we mean Reduce. Your. Weight. The unwritten rule is to carry 10% of your weight and not more if you really don’t need to.
Footwear should be your priority since you’ll be walking most of the day and getting blisters can become a huge problem if you are not prepared. In addition to comfortable and good quality footwear, socks are another item to consider. In general you want to look for a sock that provides warmth and breathability while keeping you dry when it’s cold and wet outside.
Extra clothes, besides the ones you’ll be wearing, are another important issue. Packing for layers would be a smarter option than carrying one bulky sweater or jacket. Layering is key to keeping a light pack while providing items necessary for all anticipated temperatures. You need to consider in advance whether you’ll be able to wash your clothes and the time it will take for them to dry. That’s why you should travel with light clothes that won’t take as much time air drying. You can get those at any local sport/adventure store.
Another thing to think about is carrying necessities that are shareable. If you are not going alone, sharing common things like shampoo, toothpaste, tent or map are great opportunity to reduce your load.
Fluffy towels are very convenient, but only at home. Small microfiber towels work just as well as regular ones but won’t take as much space, are super absorbent and faster to dry.
When it comes to food and water, choose lightweight foods that still supply calories you’ll need. Pack it in zip top bags and avoid canned items since they usually contain a lot of liquid. Water bottle shouldn’t be heavier than one liter, especially if your water sources are pretty close, then fill it just enough to reach the next water station.
DON’T FORGET PERSONAL ITEMS
In 21st century it is pretty obvious you are not going to leave your house without camera. But extra lenses, tripod or heavy DSLR won’t be necessary unless of course you are snapping for National Geographic. Let’s assume you are not, then maybe your phone camera will do just fine.
Other items you’ll need – like sleeping bag, pillows or blanket – can give you space to get creative. Roll up your jacket as a pillow, wear extra clothes during cold nights and for the sleeping bag, the only advice we can give you is to get the lightest one you can find (don’t forget to pay attention to recommended comfort, minimum and maximum temperatures).
Of course, reducing weight is not an excuse to leave any important essentials at home. You should still carry all of your custom items depending on the location you’ll be hiking through (navigation, light source, rain gear, sun protectant, shelter, tools…).
Final thought; go as light as possible, because walking with lighter backpack will be so much more freeing than carrying around heavy, bulky load. If you find yourself thinking ”what if”, then you probably won’t use it. But then again, your comfort should be your primary concern. Any personal items you know you’ll need and use are definitely your own priority. Finally, the reason you are going into nature is to enjoy yourself and have a good time so a little journal, notebook, a treat or anything random that will make your trip more enjoyable are definitely worth the extra weight. So packing smart and personal touch seem like the best combo for having the time of your life.
”Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” – John Muir