Travel checklist for your hiking backpack
Packing for a hike can be a balancing act – you want to ensure that you have everything you need without carrying around too much weight. Therefore it’s important to know which items are non-negotiable and which are useful rather than essential to have. That’s why we thought a travel checklist will be useful to many people going hiking. The infographic below contains a travel checklist with must-have items and also shows you how to pack for a single-day or multi-day hike.
Here is the infographic in full, followed by the transcript for anyone using an audio reader.
Transcript for Essential items for your hiking backpack
Packing for a hike can be a balancing act — you want to ensure you have everything you’ll need without carrying around too much weight. It’s important to know which items are non-negotiable and which are useful rather than essential to have.
The 12 Essentials
- Proper footwear (trail shoes for day hikes, hiking boots for multi-day hikes)
- Map & compass
- Refillable water bottle
- Food (sandwiches, fruit, energy bars)
- Multi-weather clothing (especially a raincoat and hat)
- Portable mobile phone charger
- Mobile phone (ensure it is fully charged before the hike)
- Multi-purpose penknife
- First aid kit
- Safety items (lighter, torch/flashlight, whistle)
Backpacking for a Day Hike
Choosing a Backpack
- The ideal size for a day hike backpack is 21-35 liters, as this would have the capacity for essentials plus a few extra items.
- Try to pick one that has access points at the top and front at least — side and bottom access could be useful but is not essential.
- Look for a daypack with an internal sleeve that is designed to hold a hydration reservoir.
- A hiking backpack should be suitable to your torso length rather than your overall height and have a snug, comfortable grip on your hips.
What to bring
- The 12 essentials (As outlined above)
- Guidebook for the area
- Medication (if taking any)
- Antiseptic wipes
- Two-way radio set
Backpacking for a Multi-Day Hike
Choosing a Backpack
- The ideal size for a multi-day hiking backpack is 50-80 liters if going for 3-5 days and 70+ liters if going for more than 5 days.
- Look for a backpack with a stash on the bottom for holding a sleeping bag.
- Look for a backpack with elasticized side pockets for holding long or large objects such as tent poles.
- If possible, try on the backpack to see if it allows for air to flow behind your back so that sweating will be reduced.
What to bring
- The 12 essentials plus anything recommended for a day hike (as listed above)
- Sleeping bag
- Backpacking tent
- Trekking shoes
- Cooking equipment (stove, fuel, cutlery)
- Pre-packed meals
- Personal hygiene items (towel, toothpaste, toothbrush)
- Books or e-reader
- Cards or small board games
- Before you begin packing, lay out everything you plan to bring. This will help you to visualize where you will put certain items and ensure that you haven’t forgotten any essentials.
- The less you use an item, the further down the backpack it should be. For example, you’ll only use a sleeping bag once a day, so ensure to have this at the bottom of the pack. This should be the first item you put into the backpack so that it is at the bottom.
- If space is at a premium, consider using compression sacks. These are excellent for the economy of space and minimizing gaps, allowing you to fit more into your backpack. They are also waterproof and useful for grouping items that you want to keep together.
- Make use of any smaller pouches and zipped pockets on the backpack so that you can free up space for the main part. Also, fill the gaps in boots and cookware with smaller items such as socks and utensils.
- Pack the heaviest items (e.g. large water bottles, cookware) closest to your back so that you’ll maintain your center of gravity while hiking. For evenly balanced weight distribution, pack lighter items around these and towards the bottom and sides of the backpack.
- Use the front pouch for raingear so that wet and dry clothes don’t become mixed.
- Keep smaller, frequently used items like a compass, torch, and snacks in the topmost zipped pocket of the backpack for quick, easy access.
- The 10 essentials of hiking
- How to choose daypacks
- Day hiking checklist
- How to choose a backpack
- Backpacking checklist
- How to pack a backpack for a hiking trip
- How to pack a backpack for hiking
Infographic by irelandwalkhikebike.com.
Going on a hike? Pin this travel checklist to keep it handy!
You should also read
Backpacking in the mountains: A guide for newbies