How to Pack for a Multi-Day Hike: Packing List & Tips (2023)

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This article is for all those who would like to know what to bring on their next hiking trip and how to pack their gear efficiently so that they could travel light and enjoy their hiking or camping trip more. Here you will find a backpacking packing list of the most important items you will need for a multi-day hiking trip so you can purchase your gear before you set off on your backpacking adventure. To enhance clarity, we have divided the hiking packing list into two sections: essentials and additional items that are typically needed for multi-day hikes in the backcountry.

Packing for a multi-day hiking trip brings many more problems and concerns than preparing for a day hike. The right equipment can make the difference between a trip you want to repeat and a nightmare. In extreme circumstances, the inadequate gear could even be life-threatening.

Three major factors govern the choice of gear: performance, durability, and weight. You need to pick your gear carefully and pack it efficiently, as the weight of your load directly impacts your hiking experience. Heavier loads require more frequent rest breaks, slow down your pace, and increase the likelihood of stopping to set up camp earlier. As a rule, the lighter your pack, the more comfortable you’ll feel on the trail.

Before jumping to the hiking packing list with all the essential gear, let’s first discuss some basic principles. They’re about planning and organizing your trip and the content of your backpack:

  • Plan and organize your hike carefully – it takes time and energy to plan a multi-day hike, however, the planning phase plays a crucial role in determining the overall outcome of your hike.
  • Avoid excess weight and travel as lightly as possible. However, don’t go too far unless you are stoic enough to endure minimum comfort at camp, especially during unfavorable weather conditions.
  • There are huge price ranges – especially in clothing, where high prices often just mean the latest style, color, or fabric rather than better performance. The simplest, lightest designs – not the most expensive – are often best.
  • Don’t forget to inform someone about your destination and the route you plan to take.

Hiking backpack


Osprey Atmos AG 65 backpacking pack

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Before packing a hiking backpack, plan carefully the contents of your pack. Consider several factors, including:

  • The duration of your trip
  • The expected weather conditions
  • The specific features of the terrain
  • The potential hazards along the trail
  • Your individual needs and preferences

You will need a good multi-day hiking backpack equipped with a rain cover. For longer trips, or when carrying additional gear, a spacious internal-frame pack is ideal for comfortably accommodating heavier loads. While there are a lot of good options available, we highly recommend the Osprey Atmos AG 65 (depicted in the image above). It’s a wonderful backpack that won’t disappoint you during multiple-day trips in the backcountry. If you prefer a smaller and lighter pack or don’t require the capacity of a 65L backpack, we suggest exploring alternatives like the Osprey Kestrel. It offers great comfort and can comfortably store all the essential hiking gear needed for 3-day backpacking trips, including a 3L reservoir.

Osprey Kestrel 48 Backpacking Backpack

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A day pack is also an option and although lighter, it is highly improbable that it will be as comfortable as a framed pack. Lighter gear and efficient packing are critical to having a more comfortable experience on the trail so it’s worth thinking about investing in some lighter equipment. We recommend the Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack because it’s a compact lightweight backpack that’s also waterproof. This foldable backpack packs down into its own carrying case so you could pack it away and tuck it into your pocket when not using it.

Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack is great for wet weather hiking

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Pack liner and dry sacks (sleep bag sack, food sack, clothing sack, ditty sack) will keep your stuff dry when backpacking in the rain.

Hiking shoes and boots

You will need appropriate and comfortable hiking footwear. When choosing hiking shoes or boots, there are several key factors to consider. They should fit well, provide protection for your feet, offer good traction, and be durable, lightweight, and breathable. It’s important to note that sometimes you may need to prioritize stability over speed or durability over comfort, depending on your specific needs.

Many hikers opt for trail-running shoes or hiking shoes because they’re light, breathable, and don’t need to be broken in. Additionally, these types of shoes tend to dry faster than standard hiking boots. We recommend considering all-terrain shoes that are lightweight, breathable, and comfortable, such as the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor or Salomon Speedcross. Merrell is also a good option. Renowned for their versatile and reliable hiking shoes, Merrell offers classic options like the Merrell Moab 3 that are highly regarded by numerous outdoor enthusiasts.

La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II trail-runnersLa Sportiva Ultra Raptor II are functional, reliable, and versatile trail-running shoes designed to perform well on off-road terrain. These lightweight trail runners provide fantastic grip and traction even on wet rocks and roots thanks to the FriXion White outsoles offering maximum protection and stability. Highly breathable, quick-drying, and comfortable, these all-terrain shoes are perfect for backpacking, thru-hiking, and long-distance mountain running.

See Men’s Ultra Raptor on Amazon See Women’s Ultra Raptor on Amazon

Hiking sandals are a popular choice among many hikers, not just for low-intensity summer trips, but also for three-season conditions. These versatile footwear options are particularly well-suited for well-maintained trails, stream crossings, and warm weather. Hiking sandals offer the benefits of multifunctionality, providing instant comfort and exceptional breathability right from the start. KEEN Newport H2 are functional and stylish rugged hiking sandals built to withstand extensive mileage while delivering reliable performance.

Wearing the right hiking footwear is very important as your choice of footwear is perhaps most critical when it comes to comfort and stability on uneven, slippery terrain. Whether you’re traversing muddy trails, bushwhacking through dense vegetation, or navigating rocky slopes, having excellent traction and balance is essential. Certain hiking boot models, like the Salomon Quest 4 GTX with their comfortable fit and stiff cuffs, offer enhanced support and stability, making them well-suited for off-trail hikes and rugged terrain. Another outstanding option is the Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX boots, which excel in challenging terrain and changing weather conditions. Don’t get us wrong, traveling over difficult terrain is a skill that can be learned and mastered, but wearing the right footwear can make the whole experience less painful.

When hiking in cold conditions, it’s important to wear warm boots that provide the necessary stability and support. During winter, stiff-soled boots offer superior stability compared to soft-soled boots and shoes. While your foot may exert more effort in stiff-soled boots, they provide added ankle support and better balance. See our post about hiking footwear for more in-depth information about the different types of hiking footwear.

Backpacking clothes checklist

Wear layers of clothes to match the forecast and season. Avoid cotton except for backpacking in hot and dry climates. Cotton fiber and cotton clothes absorb a lot of moisture, cling to your body, and take a long time to dry. This increases the risk of hypothermia in cool-to-cold and windy weather. Instead, opt for natural materials like merino wool and synthetic fabrics such as polyester for base layers and mid-layers. When it comes to outer layers, man-made materials are preferred. If you’re unsure about what to wear on the trail, here’s a sample clothing guide for changing weather:

Socks (two pairs made of merino wool, synthetic fabrics or a blend of merino and man-made materials like polyester, nylon, and acrylic). Choose moisture-wicking socks that will keep your feet dry and reduce friction, minimizing the chances of developing hot spots and blisters. Some hikers also find sock liners beneficial as they further reduce friction, provide an extra layer of insulation, and help regulate temperature and moisture.

Merino socks are a great choice for hiking as they offer temperature regulation, keeping your feet warm in winter and cool in summer. On the other hand, synthetic materials have their advantages too. They are cheaper, more durable, wick moisture faster, and easy and fast to dry. Certain synthetic fibers like Thermolite and Hollofil provide excellent insulation for cold conditions, while others like COOLMAX are designed to transport moisture away from the body, keeping you cool and dry in warm weather (and can also provide insulation on colder days). If you are still unsure about which type or model of socks to choose, be sure to check out our comprehensive post on the best outdoor socks. There you will find plenty of info including a sock comparison table with the most important characteristics, pros, and cons of each pair of socks on our list to help you make an informed decision.

Base layer set and two pairs of polyester underpants as you need a moisture-wicking, quick-drying, and breathable first layer. This first layer should effectively pull moisture away from your body and transport it to the outer layer. The material, whether it’s merino wool or polyester, plays a significant role, but the design, fit, weight, and fabric density are equally important.

Merino wool base layers offer a soft and comfortable feel, along with antimicrobial properties that help prevent odors. Even when wet, merino wool retains some warmth. Smartwool is a reputable brand known for their high-quality all-merino wool base layers. If you prefer the benefits of merino wool and want a reliable base layer option, Smartwool is definitely worth considering. On the other hand, polyester base layers are more affordable and durable, but not very breathable, and retain odors. Additionally, they may not provide the same level of comfort when worn directly against the skin. When it comes to synthetic base layers, Helly Hansen’s LIFA base layers are highly regarded for their quality and affordability. They offer a great price-quality ratio compared to other options on the market.

Merino blend base layers, such as the Helly Hansen LIFA Merino Midweight, offer the best of both worlds with a combination of merino wool and man-made fibers. This unique blend provides superior thermoregulation, exceptional comfort, and enhanced durability. The merino wool component adds natural insulation and moisture-wicking properties, while the synthetic fibers contribute to increased durability and quick-drying capabilities. If you’re looking for a versatile base layer that can adapt to various cold weather conditions, we highly recommend considering a base layer like the Helly Hansen LIFA Merino Midweight Crew.

Base layers: base layer top and base layer pant (from left to right)

Helly Hansen LIFA Merino Midweight Base Layers - Top and Pants

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For your hiking pants, there are a few options to consider based on your preferences and the weather conditions. Fleece-lined trousers or softshell hiking pants provide added warmth and comfort, while waterproof breathable pants keep you dry in wet conditions. If you’re looking for versatility and comfort in warm weather, nylon/polyester zip-offs or shorts (one of our favorites at the moment is the Free Soldier Cargo as they are functional, durable, and versatile shorts) are an excellent option, especially if you don’t like the idea of wearing hot-weather pants. Zip-off pants or shorts offer the flexibility to switch between pants and shorts based on your personal preference and the temperature. When the weather is warm, you can pair them with polyester T-shirts and shirts to stay cool and comfortable during your outdoor activities.

Your pants should keep you cool and dry from the inside and from the outside; they should be rugged, functional, comfortable, and as light as possible. The main materials used for quality hiking pants are polyester and nylon, although there are also blends that combine the best qualities of multiple fibers like poly-cotton, nylon/cotton, or wool/polyester.

For most climates and environments, we recommend reliable and well-crafted hiking pants like the Outdoor Research Ferrosi. These trousers are water-repellent, durable, and resistant to abrasions, making them suitable for various outdoor activities. In case of inclement weather, hardshell pants provide good protection. And for cold winter adventures, a pair of snow pants like the Columbia Bugaboo IV Snow will keep you warm and comfortable.

Three types of hiking pants: fleece-lined pants, rain pants, and convertible pants (from left to right)

Three types of hiking pants

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Fleece top made either from polyester fleece or merino wool. Fleece fabric shares similar properties to wool, as it can trap still air between its fibers, providing extra insulation and warmth to the wearer. It is also known for being moisture-wicking, quick-drying, lightweight, durable, highly breathable, and retaining warmth even when wet. When choosing a fleece garment, opt for a close-fitting design without hoods or excessive pockets to minimize weight and maintain performance. The thickness of the fleece can vary depending on the weather conditions and personal preference. Lightweight fleeces are suitable for those who prefer traveling light, while midweight and heavyweight options offer better insulation in colder winter conditions.

Both full and half zip tops allow for temperature regulation and ventilation, which can be handy when backpacking in environments with changing temperatures.

Two types of fleece tops: half zip and full zip (from left to right)

Two types of Helly Hansen Daybreaker mid layers

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Insulation jackets and/or rain jackets are expected to keep you dry and protected in various weather conditions. Windproof and waterproof breathable materials are quite popular. They are often touted as something they are not – fully waterproof and extremely breathable. Well… that’s nearly impossible as there is always a tradeoff between weight and functionality, as well as between thickness and breathability.

The main shell fabrics used for these jackets are polyester and nylon, which offer durability and weather resistance. The lining of these jackets can be made of down or man-made fabrics such as Primaloft, Thinsulate, and polyester fleece. These linings provide insulation and help retain warmth in cold conditions. Ponchos are a good alternative to rain jackets for milder climates and emergency situations as they offer good ventilation and provide sufficient protection from light rain and showers.

The left jacket in the image below is The North Face Clement Triclimate, which is an excellent insulation jacket with a great warmth-to-weight ratio. It’s specifically designed for snowy conditions and comes with numerous useful features. On the right side of the image, you’ll find the Outdoor Research Foray II, a highly recommended rain jacket made with GORE-TEX PACLITE material. This jacket offers full protection against wind and water.

If you’re seeking a versatile option that performs well in both windy and rainy conditions, while also being stylish and comfortable for everyday wear, take a look at the Helly Hansen Seven J Outdoor Rain jacket. It comes at an affordable price point. For those on a tighter budget, we believe that the REI Co-op Traimade is one of the best options available.

Two types of jackets: insulation jacket and rain jacket (from left to right)

Two types of jackets suitable for changing weather conditions

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Don’t forget to pack a sun hat, a warm beanie, and reliable gloves suitable for the season and expected weather conditions. If you’re planning a mountain hike or facing colder temperatures, it’s a good idea to have a pair of lighter gloves for added dexterity and a pair of shell gloves for extra protection.

If you’re interested in learning more about the various types of headgear available, we have a fantastic article that covers different models, designs, and materials, featuring over 20 different types of headwear. It’s definitely worth checking out!

It’s worth reminding you that if you have more clothes, you can always take off some of them in case it becomes too hot. However, you can’t put on layers that you didn’t bring along.

Apart from your backpack, footwear, and clothing, there are other essential items you’ll need for your multi-day hike.

Hiker in a lush green forest

What to bring backpacking – essential hiking gear

If you are a seasoned backpacker, you probably have enough experience to know what to bring on a hiking trip in different environments and conditions. But if you don’t have so much experience, the following hiking packing list is aimed at giving you some insight about what to bring on your next multi-day hike.

Osprey Atmos AG 65 backpack

Osprey Atmos AG 65

-> AG system, 3D back panel with mesh
-> Available in a range of sizes

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Osprey Ultralight Stuffpack

Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack

-> Durable ripstop nylon
-> Compact, foldable, and lightweight

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Kelty Cosmic Down 20

Kelty Cosmic Down 20

-> Fairly lightweight and warm; 550 down fill
-> Comfort at 0°C or 32°F

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Klymit Static V sleeping pad

Klymit Insulated Static V

-> 4-season sleeping pad with R-value of 4.4
-> Lightweight, comfortable, and packs small

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REI Co-op Half Dome Tent

REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+

-> Extra room with lightweight packability
-> Strong with solid construction

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MSR Quick 2 Cook Set

MSR Quick 2 System

-> Lightweight two-person backpacking cookset
-> Functional and easy to store

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GRAYL Geopress 24 oz water purifying bottle

GRAYL Geopress 24 Water Purifier

-> Sturdy and well-made purifier provides
safe and clean water
-> Easy to use and clean

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REI Co-op Traverse trekking poles

REI Co-op Traverse

-> Light, sturdy, and easy to adjust
-> Comfortable natural cork grip

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USGI rain poncho in camo

USGI Waterproof Poncho

-> Durable military style rain gear can be used as
poncho, tarp or shelter tent
-> Made of 100% ripstop polyester

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EVERLIT emergency first aid kit

EVERLIT Emergency Trauma Kit

-> Portable survival emergency kit
-> Well-packaged, contains and helpful inclusions

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SUUNTO MC-2 compass


-> High-quality and robust mirror compass
-> Compact, functional, and accurate; glows in the dark

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Oakley Sutro sunglasses

Oakley Sutro

-> Lightweight frame; comfortable to wear
-> Provide better protection against impact and UV

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Petzl Swift RL Headlamp

Petzl Swift RL

-> High-performance 900 Lumens headlamp
-> Lightweight and compact; reflective headband

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Sabre Frontiersman bear spray

SABRE Frontiersman Bear Spray

-> For maximum range and protection in bear country
-> Effective against other animals too

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Olympus TG-6 action camera

Olympus TG-6

-> Waterproof and compact
-> Shockproof and crushproof

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#1 Sleeping bag (We recommend the Kelty Cosmic Down 20)

Kelty Cosmic 20 Mummy Sleeping Bag

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Select one according to the season, weather conditions, and temperatures. It’s among the most important tools that will keep you warm at camp at night together with your sleeping pad and shelter.

If you’re looking for an affordable sleeping bag that is suitable for three-season hiking and backpacking (not for winter), the Kelty Cosmic Down 20 is a good option. Its outer shell is made of soft yet durable 20-denier nylon taffeta, which can handle some wear and tear. The bag is insulated with 550-fill-power down, providing warmth for temperatures as low as 0°C or 32°F. However, it’s worth noting that the downside of this sleeping bag is its weight, which ranges from 1200-1330 grams (2 lbs 10 oz to 2 lbs 15 oz) for the regular and long sizes, respectively.

Down insulation is a popular choice for lightweight sleeping bags. Down is known for being a lightweight, highly insulating, and durable material that recovers well from compression, although it can be quite expensive. The REI Magma 15 is a great example of a lightweight sleeping bag filled with down. It weighs between 800 and 870 grams (1 lb 12.2 oz for the regular version and 1 lb 14.6 oz for the long version). This sleeping bag is considered a top-quality option for most conditions, but it comes with a higher price tag.

Alternatively, there are sleeping bags filled with various synthetic materials. Such sleeping bags are more affordable but they are typically heavier compared to down-filled bags. The shells of sleeping bags can be made from waterproof breathable fabric to provide maximum protection against cold, wind, and water. However, it’s important to note that even with waterproof breathable shells, the seams are rarely perfectly sealed, and over time, water may leak through.

Sleeping bag liners can make a big difference by increasing the temperature rating of your bag. They can add up to 10-15 degrees of warmth (and can extend a 3-season sleeping bag) for a comfortable sleep experience on cold nights. Good liners are lightweight, comfortable, pack well, and will keep your sleeping bag clean.

#2 Sleeping pad (A must-have)

Klymit Insulated Static V Sleeping Pad

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The primary function of a sleeping pad is to minimize conductive heat loss. It’s particularly important to have one, especially when it’s cold outside because neither the shelter nor the sleeping bag will help you feel warm enough if the shelter floor is cold or covered with snow. In addition to insulation, sleeping pads also enhance comfort by providing cushioning for a more restful night’s sleep.

We recommend using a 4-season sleeping pad like the Klymit Insulated Static V. With an R-value of 4.4 (any sleeping pad with an R-value of 3 or higher is suitable for cold weather) and weighing around 25 oz (about 700 g), it offers great value for your money. If you prefer a lighter option, consider the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT. It weighs just over a pound for the largest version (specifically, 1 lb 1 oz or 480 g; 13 oz or 370 g for the regular size), making it a popular choice among ultralight enthusiasts. Note that the Therm-a-Rest model is more expensive, costing more than twice the price of the Klymit Insulated Static V. Keep in mind that lighter gear often comes with a higher price tag. Anyway, choosing lighter gear has its trade-offs and costs.

#3 Shelter

REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+ Tent

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Your shelter must protect you from precipitation, wind, and insects. Depending on factors like the weather, location, and your hiking style, you have options such as a tent (recommended for most backpackers), a tarp system, or a hammock.

If you’re looking for a reliable and reasonably-priced tent, we suggest considering the REI Co-op Half Dome SL 2+. It offers great value for its performance. An even cheaper option is the REI Co-op Trailmade 2 tent. This 2-person tent is suitable for 3-season and it is definitely a must-see as it has one of the best if not the best price-to-quality ratios on the market today.

For those seeking top-notch quality, Big Agnes is known for producing some of the best tents on the market. Their Copper Spur HV UL design is no exception.

#4 Food

During hiking, your body burns a significant amount of calories. On average, a 70 kg person burns between 430 and 440 calories per hour, while a 90 kg person burns around 550 calories. Therefore, you need some source of energy and the best one is a food rich in carbs, fats, and sugar. In a highly active lifestyle, such kind of a diet provides much-needed energy that few other foods can match. For your backpacking trip, you can prepare a food packing list according to your taste. Choose food that you want to eat because it tastes good and not because someone else has recommended it.

Before planning your backcountry menu, it’s important to think about the weight and volume of the food, the duration of your trip, the destination you’re heading to, and the availability of water and fuel for food preparation on the trail.

Next, it’s time to think about the specific foods you’ll bring. It’s important to consider the weight, nutritional value, and perishability of different food options, as well as your own food preferences, any special dietary needs you may have, and pack space. Additionally, take into account the environmental conditions you’ll be facing and whether you’ll be hiking alone or with a group. Remember that what you eat directly impacts your energy levels, strength, health, ability to think clearly, and even your mood and attitude toward others. Try to balance your nutritional needs with what’s practical for your trip.

Well, still wondering what to eat on the trail? Here’s a list of foods to give you some ideas for your meal plan. These options provide a mix of energy, nutrition, and convenience:

  • Cereals
  • Raisins
  • Oatmeal
  • Nuts (such as walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, cashews, etc.)
  • Trail mix
  • Bagels
  • Cheese
  • Tuna
  • Chicken
  • Salami
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Bulgur
  • Beans
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Peanut butter
  • Crackers
  • Energy bars
  • Cookies
  • Candies

It’s also a good idea to have something to drink other than water. Consider packing items like cocoa, tea, drink mixes, powdered milk, or hot chocolate.

When planning your meals, it’s important to estimate the number of calories you’ll need to fuel your trip in the backcountry. Divide these calories into ration periods, so you have a rough idea of how much food you’ll need each day. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to take some extra meals to be able to fuel properly in case something unexpected happens. You can also check out this five-day backpacking meal plan. It provides around 3500 calories per day from 900-1000 g of food.

#5 Cookware

MSR Quick 2 System Cookset

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Cookstove (and enough fuel), cook pot, food jar, and spoon. Having the ability to eat hot food can provide a significant psychological boost, especially in cold and wet weather. While it may add some extra weight to your pack, carrying a stove, cookware, and fuel is often well worth it.

If you’re in need of a reliable stove for your outdoor adventures, consider the MSR PocketRocket. This affordable and lightweight burner is suitable for backpacking, camping, and travel. It’s compact, easy to set up and operate, and works efficiently even in windy conditions. It’s a popular choice among outdoor enthusiasts. Another excellent option to consider is the SOTO WindMaster Stove with 4Flex. This lightweight backpacking stove offers great performance and reliability. It’s designed to handle various weather conditions and provides efficient cooking capabilities.

#6 Hydration

Don’t forget to bring an ample supply of water. Depending on your location, water availability can range from a minor concern to a critical factor. In some situations, you may need to carry ten or more liters of water, while in others, just a liter or two may suffice. Water is the most essential nutrient in the backcountry, as you can only survive for a few days without it. Water plays several crucial roles in your body, including maintaining body temperature, transporting nutrients, and eliminating waste products. Insufficient water intake can lead to various symptoms such as lethargy, headaches, cramps, stomach pain, disorientation, fatigue, and even exhaustion.

The amount of water you require can vary based on factors such as physical activity, environmental conditions, food intake, and water loss through perspiration and urination. Normally, a person consuming 2000 calories per day typically needs at least 2-3 liters of water. If your calorie intake increases to 4000 calories per day, you should aim for 4-6 liters of water. Keep in mind that adequate hydration is even more important at high altitudes and in the desert. In these conditions, you may need 5-7 liters or more of water to prevent altitude sickness and compensate for excessive water loss due to sweating and urination.

Drink fluids regularly and don’t wait until you feel thirsty. Feeling thirsty means that the process of dehydration has already started. You are more prone to dehydration when hiking in winter and at elevation. Dehydration can occur without you even realizing it, especially in cold weather when people tend to drink less than they should. Not eating properly can also contribute to dehydration because food contains water.

GRAYL GeoPress 24 oz Water Purifier Bottle

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A portable water filter is an indispensable tool for ensuring that you have clean drinking water during your hike into the backcountry. Even if a stream appears clean, it can still be contaminated with harmful pathogens like bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. Simply filling up your water bottle with water from a nearby stream is not a recommended approach.

Boiling water is an effective method for water purification, but it can be impractical due to the large amount of fuel required to boil enough water for a backpacking trip. Therefore, a portable water filter is a much more practical solution. It allows you to filter out impurities and pathogens, ensuring that the water you consume is clean and safe. By using a water filter, you can confidently source water from natural water sources along your hike, providing you with a continuous supply of clean drinking water.

#7 Trekking poles (for additional support and stability)

REI Co-op Traverse Trekking Poles - pair

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They will reduce the strain and force of gravity on your legs when hiking. Most serious hikers consider them a critical piece of equipment. The main function of hiking sticks is to provide traction, stability, and additional support on slippery and uneven surfaces (such as snow, ice, wet grass, mud, and scree) when crossing streams and rivers or for canyon hikes. Besides, trekking poles are multifunctional as they can be used for pitching tents, defense against wild animals, retrieving bear bags or as medical splints in emergencies. Learning how to use trekking poles properly is highly recommended if you want to take full advantage of having them.

#8 Raincoat/loose-fitting poncho

USGI waterproof poncho

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Raincoat or a loose-fitting poncho can be added to your backpacking packing list with essentials depending on the weather forecast and the hiking location. Ponchos allow lots of air circulation and are more convenient than raincoats in most cases. Moreover, they are lightweight, compact, and much cheaper and are perfect for hiking in the fog and drizzle. Ponchos serve multiple purposes and can be used as a backpack rain cover or as a protective layer for your sleeping bag during heavy rain, functioning as a makeshift tarp shelter.

Another option to consider is using an umbrella, which offers exceptional rain protection and additional benefits. Umbrellas provide superior ventilation compared to rain jackets and ponchos, allowing for better airflow. They can also come in handy during sunny weather, providing shade while you sit or walk.

#9 First aid kit and repair kit

Everlit Emergency Trauma First Aid Kit

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We recommend that you build up your first aid kit. Among the essentials in your first aid kit, you should include some analgesics/antibiotics/anaphylaxis (Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen or Aspirin, Sting relief pad, etc.) to treat headaches, pain, bacterial infections, inflammations, and severe allergic reactions. Bandages, antiseptic towelettes, blister care pads, 2″x2″ and 3″x3″ gauze sponges are used to cover small and larger wounds, absorb and control bleeding, cleanse the skin, and cover abrasions and burns. Some other important items include a safety whistle, water-purifying tablets, and a fire starter.

If you don’t have enough time or desire to collect everything you would need in an emergency, we recommend buying a pre-assembled first aid kit. There are many good options such as Everlit Emergency Trauma Kit shown in the picture above. This kit contains not only first aid kit supplies but also some extra items such as a compass, safety whistle, paracord bracelet, emergency blanket, flashlight, and a fire starter.

Your repair kit should include at least extra shoelaces, duct tape, and a multi-purpose tool.

#10 Map and compass

Suunto MC-2 Compass

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You will need to have a map and a compass to orient yourself. Among the worst-case scenarios when in the outdoors is getting lost and not having means to orient, especially if the place is totally unfamiliar to you. A light and inexpensive compass can perform most of the functions that a more expensive compass can. So, if you’re satisfied with the basic features, a budget-friendly compass will suffice. However, if you require additional features and a compass with a glowing bezel for easy reading at night, it’s advisable to invest in a high-quality compass designed for serious outdoor navigation. The SUUNTO MC-2 is an excellent option for those who prioritize accuracy and reliability in their outdoor adventures.

#11 Toiletries packing list

You’d need several items for maintaining good personal hygiene on the trail. Among them:

  • Toilet paper
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Wet wipes
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Quick-drying towel
  • Handkerchiefs

These are the essential items to have in your wash bag but you are free to add anything else that you might consider important.

#12 Sunglasses

Oakley Sutro Sunglasses

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Sunglasses, sunscreen with UPF, and lip balm will help you prevent sunburn. Get a pair of decent polarized sunglasses that won’t break easily like the Oakley Sutro. They are lightweight sunnies built with the thought of providing travelers with everything they’d need from a pair of sunglasses.

Taking some precautions in hot conditions is reasonable but don’t underestimate the sun when hiking at altitude either. As a matter of fact, the UV radiation at 1000 m above sea level is up to 20% higher than the radiation at sea level. Generally, the UV radiation increases by up to 20% for every 1000 m above the sea. Excessive exposure to UV radiation can result in sunburns and various conditions such as heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and snow blindness. Hence, it is crucial to protect your eyes from sunlight and snow glare by wearing glasses with mountaineering lenses. However, if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly alternative without compromising on functionality, the Julbo Camino Mountain sunglasses are worth considering for your mountain adventures.

#13 Flashlight or headlamp (preferably compact and durable light)

Flashlight and headlamp

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Having a reliable source of light is a must when being outdoors at night. We recommend a tough and compact flashlight that is both durable and lightweight, making it easy to carry in your pocket wherever you go. A great option to consider is the Olight Perun 2, which not only serves as a flashlight but can also be used as a headlamp when needed. Alternatively, high-quality headlamps are an excellent choice as they are lightweight, functional, and come with useful features to enhance your night vision.

#14 Bear spray

Bear spray

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Bear spray is a must for self-defense in bear country. Exploring and camping in bear country can be exciting but also very dangerous unless you hike responsibly without underestimating the risks and dangers of sharing the same territory with bears. Just follow some basic rules for safe hiking in bear country and you can significantly reduce the likelihood of encountering bears up close.

#15 Mobile phone (in a shock and waterproof case)

The shockproof and waterproof case is a valuable accessory that ensures the safety and security of your mobile phone, particularly during challenging outdoor activities such as hiking steep terrains or crossing rivers. With this protective case, you can have peace of mind knowing that your phone is shielded from potential impacts and water damage, allowing you to fully enjoy your adventure without worrying about the safety of your device. Phone holsters are another excellent option for carrying safely your phone on and off the trail.

#16 Camera (rugged and waterproof)

Olympus TG-6 Camera

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Rugged and compact waterproof cameras are ideal for hiking and backpacking (and a ton of other outdoor activities) because they’re capable of doing a beautiful job on the trail. If you’re looking for a tough and reliable camera that’s easy to use in various settings and environments, check out the Olympus TG-6. It’s waterproof, shockproof, and crushproof, and can take hundreds of great photos per charge.

#17 Wallet and documents

Don’t forget to pack your wallet with some cash for smaller expenses and debit/credit cards for larger expenses, along with all the necessary documents such as your ID and any required permits for your backpacking trip. A low-profile wallet that’s reasonably light and can comfortably accommodate your essentials will suffice for most trips in the wilderness. Having these items readily accessible will ensure that you are prepared for any financial needs or identification requirements that may arise during your wilderness adventure.

Download: Packing for a Multi-Day Hike: Cheat Sheet

Backpacking checklist

Backpacking checklist of the essential and extra stuff in PDF format

In addition to the essentials, it’s a good idea to consider carrying some extra items that may become essential depending on the season, location, and your personal preferences. These additional items can greatly enhance your backpacking experience.

Hiking packing list – extra stuff

Gaiters can be of good use depending on the season and terrain. Depending on the season and weather conditions, gaiters might be part of your hiking list with essentials.

Signal mirror is a simple but effective tool (glass signal mirrors have superior reflectivity) to signal your location in case of an emergency.

Insect repellents offer long-lasting protection against buzzy and bloodsucking insects. Be aware that some repellents like DEET can have a harmful effect on plastic and synthetic gear components so be careful.

Book or a Kindle (and a charger) – especially useful if you prefer solo hiking as you’ll have a ton of spare time. Having a real paperback book(s) in your backpack while traveling is great but unfortunately, it is easy to damage a book in the wilderness.

Headphones/earphones may not be an essential part of most people’s hiking packing list but are extremely useful if you want to listen to music from your iTunes library or your phone. Keep in mind that you should avoid using them when in the mountain because you won’t be able to hear if there’s a landslide or an avalanche (and this might be deadly).

Notebook and pen

GPS devices make sure that you don’t get lost during hiking and backpacking trips in unfamiliar areas. Set up is easy and you can track your distance, and on dangerous mountain ridges in low visibility.


Multi-function watch with an altimeter can be an essential item on your backpacking packing list. You can use it to track your progress and stay safe when hiking, running or traveling in mountainous regions.

Toilet trowel

Bear canister is very important for hiking and camping in bear country. Proper storage of food, toiletries, and medications is essential for your safety when traveling in bear country. Here come bear-resistant containers and reusable storage bags.

How to pack a hiking backpack?

Hiking packing list
Backpacker wearing a well-packed hiking backpack

Organize your hiking clothes and gear into logical groups and separate them into stuff sacks. When you start unpacking at your campsite or along the trail, it’s important to ensure that the items you’ll need are grouped together and easily accessible. This will prevent a chaotic “pack explosion” when you’re searching for a specific item buried deep within your backpack. Keeping your hiking pack neat and well-organized is key, as it allows you to have a clear idea of where everything is located.

Here’s how to pack a hiking backpack:

  • Place the heaviest items (such as food, water, and stove fuel) against your back and tighten the pack’s compression straps to balance the pack. You can place softer items like tents, between the heavier items to fill gaps and to prevent shifting.
  • Put bulky items like a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and clothes you will sleep in on the bottom. This arrangement serves as a shock absorber and creates a soft cushion for the rest of your gear to sit on top of. By doing so, you ensure a more comfortable and balanced load while hiking.
  • Keep spare clothes near the top of your pack for easy access without having to unpack other gear. Include essentials like an insulation jacket, a rain jacket, and pants in this accessible section. Additionally, keep important items like your first aid kit, water filter, and personal hygiene supplies such as toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and a bag for packing out used toilet paper within easy reach. This ensures that you can readily grab them whenever needed during your backpacking trip.
  • Keep items you’ll use often during the day within reach. These include snacks, maps, cameras, water bottles, sunglasses, and other essentials. Convenient locations for storing these items can be hipbelt pockets or side pockets, where you can retrieve them without the need to take off your backpack.

How to pack a hiking backpack


Pack weight and terrain features

In general, avoid heavy packs full of irrelevant things and aim to keep your gear weight between 15-20 kg, including your food and water supplies, along with the clothes you’re wearing. On rare occasions, you’ll have to carry a heavier load. Bring enough water, especially when hiking in arid regions since water is, by far, the most important thing you’ll carry with you on a hike in an arid environment. If you’re traveling with a group, sharing camping and cooking equipment will reduce individual pack weight slightly. Specialized and warmer gear for winter conditions will add to it. Keep in mind that the perception of weight can be subjective and influenced by factors such as terrain, weather conditions, physical fitness, and even personal hiking experience.

Be conservative in planning your hike and gather as much information as possible. Sorting through the details will help you determine what is truly important and what can be disregarded for your specific hike. Your hiking adventure requires careful planning, thorough preparation, self-reliance, and the ability to make sound decisions.

Mistakes to avoid: how and what not to pack for hiking

  • Last-minute packing

Do the packing the day(s) before the hike to avoid forgetting some important things like a raincoat, headlamp, fire starter, etc. Novice backpackers often make the mistake to do their packing in a rush the night before a hiking trip.

  • Not packing properly for the occasion

This can happen to both novice backpackers lacking experience and experienced hikers who underestimate the unpredictable weather changes in the mountains. It’s crucial, especially when ascending a mountain, to pack essentials such as a rain jacket, windbreaker, and warm clothing, even if you believe you won’t require them.

  • Not bringing an extra pair of socks

Especially in cold or winter conditions, bring at least one pair of thick woolen socks (ideally two or three). These socks not only provide warmth for your feet but also have the advantage of feeling less damp when wet compared to synthetic or cotton socks. Furthermore, in extremely cold weather, you can repurpose your extra pair of socks as makeshift mittens to keep your hands warm.

  • Using untested gear such as a tent or sleeping bag

This can lead to unpleasant situations where you may end up wet, cold, and shivery for days. Always test your most essential gear items before a long hiking trip. By doing so, you can ensure their reliability and make any necessary adjustments or replacements in advance.

  • Overpacking

Remember that light is your friend on the trail even if you’re not an ultralighter. A heavy pack full of irrelevant things is your enemy. The best way to eliminate redundancy is to fine-tune the packing by making detailed lists of what you used and what you didn’t use during your previous hiking trips.

  • Not keeping a dry set of clothes to sleep in

Staying warm and dry during your time for rest is good for both health and morale. Thus, bringing an extra set of clothes to sleep in is highly recommended.

Backpacker on his way in a sunny morning


The process of planning and packing for a multi-day hike is similar to what you should do before a day hike, though now it will take more time and effort. Make sure to invest in suitable hiking attire that matches the environment you’ll be hiking in. Pick up a pair of well-fitting hiking shoes, choose a comfortable hiking backpack, and create a hiking packing list so that you can start packing for your multi-day adventure. And finally, remember that good gear is not a substitute for skill. It’s far more important to have knowledge, skills, and experience than to buy only the latest high-tech designs. Even without the best gear, get outside and hike. Nature is not your adversary. It’s beautiful, and authentic, and should be treated with respect.

Do you have a backpacking packing list for multi-day hikes? Is there anything unique or specific that you include? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you!


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Ultimate Guide to Planning Hikes

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Polyester vs Wool for Clothing

Polyester vs Cotton for Clothing

Hiking Backpack Types and Essentials


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