Pack a backpack, hiking

10 Tips to Packing a Backpack: Hiking Edition

Have you ever got really excited to go out on a hike. You wake up early. You download a hiking app, and the after looking at the map you decide that you don’t need to bring anything because on the map the trail doesn’t look too hard. Then midway through the hike you regret not bringing water and sunscreen to name a few things.

That has been me on so many occasions, until I learned to make a plan. So, that is what I am sharing here. This is some of my lessons learned and tips for packing for a hike to ensure you have the most amount of fun possible without having to experience similar troubles I faced.

So, what do you need to pack for a hike?

Planning a hiking adventure can be fun and exciting, but packing for the trip can be a daunting task. When it comes to packing your backpack, organization and weight distribution are key factors to consider. In this post, we’ll guide you on how to pack your backpack for hiking, so you can have an enjoyable experience on the trail.

1. What to Pack

Before deciding what to pack for your hike, you’ll need to determine the length of your trip. For shorter trips, it’s best to bring lightweight and essential items that will help you enjoy your journey. Here’s an example list of must-have items that every hiker should take along on their adventure:

Short Hikes

  • Waterproof jacket
  • Hiking boots
  • Cellphone with some type of hiking app is preferred
  • Emergency whistle
  • Portable first aid kit
  • Sun protection and bug spray
  • Plenty of Water
  • Snacks
  • Camera

Longe Hikes (items plus short hike list)

  • More Water (Water Bladder is preferred)
  • More Snacks
  • Hiking poles
  • First aid kit
  • Personal Hygiene gear (baby wipes)
  • Way to charge cellphone
  • Extra Weather appropriate clothes
  • Extra Socks (Hiking or Rucking Socks)
  • Camping gear

2. Consider the weather

The weather can change at any time, and it’s essential to be prepared. Consider checking the weather forecast before you set off and pack accordingly. In case of rain, you can use a rain cover or waterproof bag for your belongings.

Balaclavas and gloves can also help you stay warm in cold weather. Also, consider bringing sunscreen and a hat to help prevent sun burns. By being prepared for the weather, you will remain safe and comfortable on your hike.

Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated is essential during any outdoor activity. Always bring water in a reusable container and drink regularly throughout the day to prevent dehydration. Consider either a water bladder system or some type of water container that will throw off the weight distribution of your pack.

Additionally, consider bringing electrolyte drinks to replenish minerals lost through sweat. Be sure to plan your water amount by the weather conditions.

3. Choose the right backpack

Before you start packing, it’s essential to choose the right backpack. Consider the length of your hike and the size of your gear. A lightweight backpack with multiple compartments will be more functional. Your backpack should be fit properly to your body, reducing any movements and weight-baring strains.

Consider a backpack with a waist belt for extra comfort. This style of backpack can shift the weight off of your shoulders which will significantly reduce fatigue and risk of weight shifting injuries.

4. Sort your items

Once you have chosen the right backpack, sort your items into three categories; essentials, gear, and comfort. Essentials like water and snacks should be easily accessible, while gears like tent and a stove should be towards the bottom of the bag for better weight distribution.

Comfort items, such as a pillow and sunscreen, should be organized in the top pocket or around the main compartment for maximum accessibility. By sorting items into categories, you can easily determine which items should be included in your pack for a successful hike.

5. Load Your Backpack Properly

Once you have all of your essentials, it’s time to start packing. Begin by loading heavy items closest to your back and keep them higher in the pack. This way, the weight will be evenly distributed on your shoulders and prevent strain on your back. This will also prevent the back from swaying to much while walking.

If the weight was on the bottom the bag would sway side to side a lot possibly causing irritation or rashes. Next, fill the pockets with lighter items like snacks and water. Finally, make sure your essentials are stored in easy-to-reach pockets so you can quickly access them when needed.

If you do not have many pockets, then at least make sure that you can easily access items as needed.

6. Protect Your Body

It is important to protect your body from the strain of carrying a heavy load while out on the trail. Be sure to carry your pack using both shoulder straps as this will allow for better weight distribution and prevent uneven pressure leading to pain and injury.

Also, it is important to adjust the straps so that they fit snugly against your body and be sure to tighten chest and waist straps. If needed, consider using a hip belt that will help distribute the load of the pack across your hips and reduce strain on your shoulders.

By taking these steps, hikers can ensure their safety and comfort while out on the trail.

7. Pack strategically

The key to packing your backpack is to distribute weight evenly. Start by packing the heaviest items at the bottom and closest to your back. This will reduce the feeling of being top-heavy while providing stability and balance. Consider placing long items vertically along the back of the backpack.

This will provide balance and easy to access. After loading the heaviest item, fill the top and remaining compartment to prevent any shifting or instability during your hike. Additionally, it is important to keep a few items easily accessible like a map, snacks and water.

By packing your backpack strategically, your hike will be safe and more enjoyable.

8. Strap everything down

Finally, secure everything in your backpack with straps to prevent any movement or flopping. Use compression straps to reduce the size of the bag and keep your gear from shifting around. Make sure all the belts are tightened well, and the load lifter straps are set appropriately as they will help redistribute weight from your back to hips.

It is important that after you start your hike that you stop and reassess your gear before finishing the rest of the hike. Usually within the 1st quarter mile is sufficient. Doing so will help keep you comfortable and safe. You can also look at backpack that have built in bungee systems or even military style ruck sacks.

9. Tips for a Successful Hike

When packing for a hike, it’s important to remember to bring the necessary items that will ensure you have an enjoyable experience on the trail. Pack plenty of water and snacks. Bring layers of clothing as the weather can change quickly in the mountain environment.

Additionally, it’s important to have a map of the area you plan on hiking and make sure someone knows where you are going. Alternately, have an app that can help you navigate the trails, but be sure that you have access to that map offline in case there is a drop in cell signal.

Finally, follow all safety precautions while out on the trail. By following these tips, hikers can ensure they have a safe and successful hiking experience.

10. Have fun

At the end of the day, it’s important to enjoy yourself on your hike. Take time to appreciate the nature around you, smell the fresh mountain air, and make memories with friends or family. Ensure that you consider the weight of things that you want to bring, and don’t necessarily have to bring.

So, make sure you bring a camera or journal with you to document all that you experience and remember why you wanted to hike to begin with. Have fun and stay safe!


Packing your backpack for hiking is not rocket science, yet it’s vital to do it correctly to ensure your comfort, safety, and stability while on the trail.

We hope our guide helps you pack like a pro for your next hiking adventure. Now, go out there and enjoy the great outdoors! Happy Hiking!

Pssst….Remember to take care of your gear

Your gear is an investment, so be sure to take good care of it. Clean and inspect it regularly, store it in a cool, dry place when not in use, and make any necessary repairs as soon as possible.

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