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What to pack in your hiking backpack?

The same question pops up every time you’re planning a hike: what do I need? When the time comes to pack your hiking backpack, it can sometimes be difficult to evaluate your priorities. However, some rules exist to save time and turn this step into pleasant anticipation. Glisshop gives you all the tips you need to choose the hiking equipment that will follow you throughout your adventure!

packing your hiking gear

Plan your hike to identify your needs


To avoid forgetting things, it’s important to meticulously prepare your hike when packing your hiking backpack. Topo guides will enable you to know everything you need about the route you’re planning. They hold info such as the duration of the hike, distance and elevation you’ll need to cover, as well as tips on the gear you need depending on the weather. In addition to information found on the web, always check the weather forecast for the upcoming day or days. This pre-hike preparation can not only avoid bad surprises but also help you pack the right equipment. In mountain environments, if you’re already at the location, the best way to get reliable information is to visit the local visitor centre.

Make a checklist


Once you know more about the terrain and weather that are awaiting on D Day, prepare a list. It’ll keep you from forgetting something and help you pack your equipment efficiently. To make it simple, divide it into multiple categories: toiletry kit, camping, clothing, and cooking for example. Keep it! It can be used as a basis for your next hike and save you time. You can always come back to this guide for help.

How to pack your hiking backpack?


What to pack for a day hike?


When your list is ready, you can start packing your backpack. For a day hike the number of items to carry is small, and your backpack capacity can be limited to 20 or 30 litres. There still are some essential elements that will guarantee your safety. When it comes to mountain hiking, you can’t improvise, even for a day hike close to villages.

  • Paper or digital map

Some apps are available for free on your phone, with maps of various areas and the capacity to display your GPS location. Such is the case of the GeoPortail app if you’re hiking in France. Very easy to use, it’ll help you find your way. In case your phone runs out of battery, a paper map can save the day!

  • First aid kit

Little accidents can happen quick in the mountains. Cutting yourself on a branch or a sudden and unexpected temperature drop can happen at any time. They can quickly turn your hike into an unpleasant experience and even be a threat to your safety. To prevent these hazards, you’ll find on our store, first aid kits that’ll cure minor injuries. They’ll remain in your backpack 90% of the time but you’ll be glad to have disinfectant and bandages when you need them. In addition, first aid kits always contain an emergency blanket to keep your warm in case of hypothermia. Our tip: add a candle and lighter in your kit. They’ll help warm your body quicker when you’re wrapped in your blanket.

  • Food

You consume a lot of energy when out in the mountains. The greater the elevation and distance, the more food you need to keep your energy levels up throughout the day. To do so, dry fruits and cereal bars are very practical as they take little space and provide significant energy.

  • Plastic bag

A plastic bag can be used to collect your trash. It can also help you stay dry if you’re sitting on a wet surface when picnicking.

  • Fully charged phone

It can prove useful to check a map if you’re lost. Also, to reach the rescue teams (dial 112 in the EU) in case of an accident. In addition, phones allow you to take pictures, saving you the weight of a dedicated camera.

  • Headtorch

You’ve bitten more than you can chew when preparing your route and have to finish the hike at night? A headtorch you packed before taking off will be of great help to finish your hike, even adding a feeling of adventure to your day.

  • Sufficient water

Keeping a stable hydration level during your hike is critical to perform. On a mountain hike, it’s recommended to drink a sip or two of water every 15 minutes. 1 litre of water can be insufficient. Investing in a purifying tabs or a filtering device can enable you to safely drink water collected from streams and rivers.

  • Warm and waterproof clothes

In the mountains, the weather can change suddenly. A sunny day can turn into a hailstorm even when the forecast predicted perturbations only in the next valley. In that regard, it’s important to always carry in your backpack a thermal second layer, such as a fleece and a waterproof layer, such as a Gore-Tex jacket. They’ll keep you warm and dry if the weather deteriorates!

These items needed in your backpack for a day hike constitute the essentials you should always carry. If the distance or difficulty increase, make sure you have these items with you on all your adventures!

keeping your hiking backpack organised

How to pack your backpack for a trek with a night in a refuge?


After a few summer day hikes, you may develop a thirst for bigger adventures. Do you want to keep the fun going and spend the night out in the mountains? Spending the night in a refuge is the best way to achieve this dream without overloading your pack. Of course, you still need the items mentioned before for a day hike but additional equipment as well. To prepare the right gear, it’s important to contact the place you’re staying at, to know what’s provided. Multiple points have to be clarified:

  • Food

Some guarded refuges offer half board to hikers. Prices are often reasonable, and this option is the guarantee of a good meal every night after a long day of hiking, and it saves you the weight of the cooking equipment and food. If you don’t like the food offered, you’ll always find a dedicated space to heat up your own meals. We’ll cover what kind of food you need on a trek later in this article!

  • Sleep

Refuges often have blankets, but they’re usually only washed at the start of the season. Bring a sleeping bag liner in your backpack, to avoid being in direct contact with the blankets. If you don’t want to use the refuge’s blankets, bring your sleeping bag!

  • Payment method

In the days of contact less payment and Apple pay, refuges generally don’t take cards as a payment method. Make sure you carry enough cash to pay for your nights. It’ll save you another trek to make things right and pay your debts!

packing your trekking backpack

For a multi-day backpacking trip?


In case you’re planning a multi-day mountain hike, you should leave nothing to chance. A multi-day adventure away from civilisation compels you to carry all the gear you need and find the best balance between comfort and safety. You’ll need quality equipment, fit for the task, to face every situation. To assess your needs and start easy, try an overnight adventure that’ll give you a good idea of the things you’ll need to prioritise later on.

  • Clothes

For a mountain trek, you have to be minimalist. It also (especially) goes for your clothes. Keep it simple and respect the three layer system.

The base layer has to be breathable to wick sweat away. A synthetic fibre t-shirt is perfect on sunny days, merinos is warmer but very effective regarding odour control on the long run.

The mid layer is the one that keeps you warm during a break when the air gets chilly and at night when the sun has set behind the summits.

The third layer protects you from the elements. Waterproof and resistant, it is also windproof and will keep you dry on long rainy days. This garment can be paired to waterproof over pants to prevent moisture from ruining your day.

In mountain environments, even in summer, you can experience dramatic temperature gaps. You may be hiking in 25° during the day, needing a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses, and it might very well start freezing on your tent’s surface at night. Always carry a beanie, thin pair of gloves, neck warmer, and hiking trousers to wear in the evening and stay warm during cool summer nights. Pack light, one outfit per day and one per night. You can wash your socks in the streams you cross and let them dry by hanging them on your backpack.

Discover right now Glisshop’s selection of hiking apparel from leading brands and get ready for your next trek!

  • Food

On a multi-day mountain adventure, you have to pack food and cooking equipment. Stove, gas cartridges and mess kit are among the items to add in your hiking backpack.

Food is always one of the main topics for backpackers. Genuine moment of comfort and pleasure at the end of a long day's walking, this is a point that shouldn’t be neglected. Previously little-known and reserved to athletes on challenging expeditions, freeze-dried food has become increasingly popular in recent years, much to the delight of hikers. With its wide range of meals, significant energy intake and easy preparation, freeze-dried food is the ideal solution for trekkers who want to eat a balanced diet, limit the impact on the weight of their pack and lighten their load day after day!

  • Camping

Finally, just as it's important to eat well on a trek, it's essential to recover well between days of walking if you hope to fully enjoying the most beautiful landscapes. At the end of the day, you'll find a spot by the river, and you won't be able to resist the call of the cool, invigorating water, ideal for relaxing your hard-worked muscles. As well as being compact, lightweight and effective, a microfibre towel dries very quickly after use.

When evening comes, take your tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag and pillow out of your trekking backpack. They'll guarantee you a peaceful, well-deserved night's sleep in the deafening silence of the mountains.

packing your hiking backpack