How to Pack for a Hiking Trip

Here is some information about how to pack for a hiking trip without weighing you down but making sure you have what you need. 


Even though you’re doing a luggage transfer, here’s the perfect opportunity to learn to pack light.  That means lightweight, wickable clothing that can be washed in the sink, dries quickly overnight and is ready to put on the next day.  Remember, you’re changing locations each night so nobody cares that your evening attire is always that blue shirt and khaki pants.


  • Base Layers- Wicking tees or tanks- can be worn alone or under a second layer piece.
  • Second Layer- Knitted long-sleeved lightweight shirt preferably with a partial zip neck.  Also a nylon woven long-sleeved shirt.  (Example: ExOfficio AirStrip)
  • Nylon Shorts or zip-off pants
  • Nylon Pants or zip-off pants
  • Insulating Layer- Fleece or wool layer for warmth
  • Rain Gear- MUST be waterproof and breathable, jacket and pants
  • Sun Hat
  • Light Hat or Earband- for warmth
  • Light Wicking Gloves- for warmth
  • Evening Clothes-One outfit to wear in the evening and to be kept in your luggage for transfer


  • Basic First-Aid
  • Sunscreen
  • Map and compass
  • Water, food, high energy snacks


  • Fitted Daypack- Make sure the pack is large enough to carry your lunch, water, first-aid, rain gear and a layer for warmth.  Don’t bring just a hydration pack.  It will be too small.  Buy a pack, not according to how much it weighs, but how it carries the weight in your pack.
  • Hiking Poles- Can take 250 tons of pressure off your knees in 8 hours of hiking while adding balance and security.
  • Hiking Boots- Boots deserve special attention, especially as the outdoor industry continues to push lightweight, junky, sneeker-style footwear.  Don’t fall for this.  The best boots should be full-leather, leather-lined if possible, over-the-ankle and non-Gortex.  They should be properly fit and well broken-in before your hiking trip.


Now that you’ve got your clothing and gear selected, the next step is packing it.  Your life is in that backpack.  Keep it neat and organized.

Start with pac-it sacks and small ditty bags.  These are perfect for toiletries, medicins and first-aid.  Make them different colors so they’re easy to spot.


Pack-it sacs are my personal favorites and great for socks, underwear and wicking layers that can be rolled into strips.  They come in different sizes and colors.  It’s as if you’re keeping everything is a tidy drawer.


Pac-it folders are an easy to keep woven shirts, pants and fleece neatly folded and less wrinkled.  For a hiking trip you shouldn’t need anything larger than a size 15.


Take a travel passport or money pouch.  This is your mini-purse which can be carried around your waist or neck under your clothing.  I always prefer a color so that when I’m packing up to leave, I can quickly check and see if I have the “red thing.”


Don’t let dirty clothes pile up.  Set a time- like when you shower- to wash a few things each day.  Small hotels and B&Bs in Europe often have hot water heaters which are great for drying clothes quickly.

Take a light nylon duffle that packs small.  Use it on the return trip for any extra items or souvenirs you want to take home.