What is the best way to explore nature and get lost in the beauty of remote, unspoiled wilderness? The answer is hiking, and it’s an adventure we're always in the mood for.
Even if you're only going on a weekend hiking trip, you are bound to have a blast, learn something new and come back full of great impressions.
Before you set off, you will need a solid plan for packing. Forgetting something on a hiking adventure can ruin the whole trip and even get you in danger.
But, don't worry, here you will find out what you absolutely need to bring with you on a hiking weekend and what you can definitely leave at home. We've also prepared some useful hiking tips and a handful of exciting hiking trails you should put on your bucket list.
What To Pack
Let's start with the Ultimate packing checklist for hiking trips. Follow it carefully and we promise you will always be fully prepared for any trip!
Clothing and Insulation: When it comes to the clothes, it's important to dress for the weather. The climate will influence the type of the clothes you wear and pack, as well as the quantity.
If you're hiking in a warm climate, you should be wearing a wicking T-shirt, wicking underwear, quick-drying pants, a sun-shielding hat, and you should pack a long-sleeve shirt to protect you from insects or the sun.
If the weather is cold, you should be wearing a long-sleeve wicking shirt, long underwear, a fleece jacket and pants, rainwear, a cap and mittens or gloves. A jacket like Patagonia Mens Nano Air is warm, breathable and water repellent, and that makes it an excellent choice for a hiking trip in cold conditions.
When it comes to footwear, you will need socks and proper hiking boots or shoes in both cases, and sandals if it's warm.
Food and Fluids: Nutrition and hydration are crucial on any hiking trip, no matter how long it is. You will be spending a lot of your energy on the hike, so you need sufficient supplies of high-energy food.
The amount of food you will bring depends on your body constitution, but it should be no less than 700-800 grams of food per day. And, it's advisable to bring an extra day's supply of food, just in case. Also, don’t forget to bring a bear bag to protect your food from animals, and a camping stove, unless you're planning to eat sandwiches all trip long. If you do decide to cook, bring some fuel, a ¾ litre pot, and a long-handled spoon.
Make sure to stay well hydrated and bring two one-litre bottles and a water filter, or a water treatment system to purify the water you find and make it safe for drinking.
Navigation: The last thing you want to do is get lost on your hiking trip. That's why you need to think about navigation, no matter how confident you are about the trail.
Bring a waterproof map, or a regular map with a protective case, and don't forget your compass and watch. You may be tempted to bring a GPS, but even if you do, don't rely too much on the satellite signal and batteries. Always keep a map and a compass close.
Shelter: The best option is bringing a tent (with tent poles, stakes, and cords), and making sure all the gear is there because missing just one small piece can cost you your whole shelter.
If you're hiking during the warmer months, a waterproof tarp could also be an option. Also, don’t forget to bring a sleeping bag and a sleeping pad.
Fire: Once the sun sets, a fire will be your best friend. So, make sure you bring the essentials for starting a fire, such as a lighter or matches, or even a fire starter for emergencies. It's also best to bring an extra lighter, or pack of matches, and a waterproof container for these supplies, just in case.
Sun Protection: It's important to protect yourself from the sun, especially if you’re hiking during the summer. Pack the sunscreen, some lip balm and bring your sunglasses along. We suggest a pair of stylish and useful Komono Crafted Allen Wayfarer sunglasses.
First-Aid Kit: You may get a headache, or even get injured, so don't leave anything to chance and pack a first-aid kit. Bring the first-aid essentials, along with some painkillers, antiseptics, a hand sanitizer, and don't forget your prescription medications.
Other Essentials: Apart from the ones we mentioned so far, you will need several other items.
- Headlamp or a flashlight, extra set of batteries
- Pack cover
- Camping permits
- Toilet paper
- Insect repellent
- Toiletry kit
- Cell phone and a portable charger
What To Leave At Home
There are things you may want to bring along with you, that will actually just be awaste of space and weigh you down. Here’s a list of items you should leave sitting at home:
Mugs - Not only are mugs pretty inconvenient to pack, but they are also quite impractical. They don't have a lid, so you can't really drink anything on the move. Remember that thermos we talked about earlier? It's a much better alternative if you're in the mood for a hot drink during the hike.
Tons of first-aid supplies - Sure, it's important to have the basic first-aid supplies that will come in handy in case of emergency. However, it’s a weekend trip we're talking about here. If you get a headache, a painkiller will do just fine. But if you break your leg, you will need to cut your trip short and wait for help. So, the first-aid kit should be there to stop the bleeding and alleviate the pain while you wait for the help. And if you know you're allergic to something, stay away from risky situations and bring your allergy meds.
Hydration bladder - This one can be useful, but forget about taking it during the winter. Your water will just freeze, and you'll quickly be left without it. Instead of bringing a hydration bladder, opt for a thermos such as this S'well Bottle which can keep your drink hot for 12 hours. Besides, during the winter, you will probably find a hot tea or coffee a lot more refreshing than cold water.
Soap and towels - We hate to break it to you, but you won't be needing too many personal hygiene items on your hike, especially if you're going for a weekend. So, do yourself a favour and leave the soap and the towel at home. You'll be camping only for one or two nights, which makes using wet wipes and some water for cleaning completely justifiable.
Extra clothes - While we're at it, you can leave all the spare clothes you wanted to pack out of your backpack. It's a hiking trip, it's not supposed to be super classy, but it is supposed to be as comfortable as possible. So, don't put additional weight on your back just to change your clothes. You can wear the same hiking clothes for two days, or even more, and make your backpack much lighter.
Pillows - A tent, a sleeping bag and a sleeping mat - obligatory. A pillow - a massive waste of pack space. Trust us, you will be perfectly comfortable in your sleeping bag on a mat, and if you absolutely need a pillow, improvise. You can use your backpack as the pillow, use your jacket or even your boots.
A bunch of gadgets - Nowadays, smartphones can do just about anything, which makes other gadgets completely redundant on a hike. Forget about tablets and iPads, and leave that huge professional camera at home unless you're a professional photographer. The only thing you need is a phone, and a good portable charger such as Nautilus Survivor, which is dustproof and waterproof.
Ziploc bags - You want your backpack neatly organized, but Ziploc bags are not the solution. They are completely unnecessary and a sign that you've packed more stuff than you will actually need.
If you want your pack organized, learn how to pack it right. Put the heaviest gear in the middle - items such as the stove, water bottles and food, and the lighter ones spread around the edges. The smallest items and those that you'll need along the way should go into the top lid, while the sleeping bag goes on the bottom.
Tips For An Unforgettable Hiking Weekend
Make A List
Seeing your list on a piece of paper will make it easier to realize what you need, what you should drop, and how much stuff you’re actually thinking of bringing along. You will get to visualize the weight of the items and plan how you're going to organize the load. It will also be a guarantee you don’t forget something important.
Borrow The Gear And Improvise
If you're a beginner backpacker, you're probably lost when it comes to gear. You don't know what to buy, which brands are the best and what you actually won't need.
So, try borrowing the gear from friends who are experienced hikers. This way you will get to try it out and see if it works for you, without having to buy it yourself. Also, don't buy what you don't have to. You probably have plenty of stuff at home that could work as hiking gear. A pair of synthetic pants will do just fine on a short hike, as will a regular baseball cap for sun protection.
Test Your Gear
All the experienced hikers test their gear before a trip, since it's paramount for the group’s safety. Checking it beforehand will ensure you have everything you need, that all the pieces are in place, and nothing is damaged.
And when we say test your gear out, we do mean test it out: set up the tent in your backyard, assemble the stove or break in your new hiking boots a few weeks before the trip.
Use The Easy Fixes
Every backpacker must have a few tricks up their sleeve. One of the best-known tricks is bringing duct tape on your hiking trip. This little fixer can quickly help you with a ton of unpredictable troubles along the road. You can tape up a torn tent, a flapping boot sole, a ripped backpack and even prevent blisters. You can also prevent a lot of problems by bringing a simple garbage plastic bag. This can be used for lining your backpack instead of buying a pack cover that's not only more expensive but also weighs more.
Bring A Treat
With all this careful planning, you may become a little anxious and start seeing your hike as a chore. It's true that you need to be practical, plan your trip meticulously and pack smart. But, that only means you will get to relax completely once your trip begins. You will be there to enjoy a challenge, indulge in the nature and good company. And even though you're trying to save space in your pack cut weight, feel free to bring a treat. Some coffee, fruit or whiskey will cheer up your whole hiking crew.
Shut Off Reality
Hiking is all about immersing yourself in nature and shutting off reality for a couple of days. To make this experience even more special, forget about technology during your trip. Turn off your phone and don't think about work. But, not only that. Forget that technology exists, and just enjoy nature and some good old-fashioned conversations by the campfire. You will come back home completely refreshed. The only gadgets you will need are a compass and a reliable field watch such as Tsovet JPT-TS44 Chronograph Classic Men's Watch.
Awesome Hiking Spots For Your Next Trip
Te Araroa Trail, New Zealand
Reserved for the serious hikers, Te Araroa Trail is more than a weekend backpacking trip; it's an adventure of a lifetime. Being 3,000km long, Te Araroa stretches from Cape Reinga in the North to Bluff in the South of New Zealand. Sure, it will take you 120 days to finish, but you will walk through such unbelievable diversity and see the coast, mountain ridges, farmlands, the jungle, and volcanoes. Of course, if you don't have four months to spare for a hike, Te Araroa offers day walks, weekend and week trips.
Yosemite Grand Traverse
If you were planning to hike in North America, Yosemite Grand Traverse is a classic. This 100km trail will take you approximately a week to cross, and it will take you through some of the prettiest sites in this iconic National Park. The best part of this trail is that it goes through the famous parts of the park, as well as some remote areas not many visitors get to see.
Inca Trail, Peru
If you love hiking, you absolutely have to cross the legendary Inca Trail, which is one of the 5 most famous trails in the world. This trail is a wonderful combination of gorgeous nature and the fascinating Inca history. You will be passing through the jungle and forest. You will be surrounded by towering mountains and get a peek at the Inca ruins along the way. But the final destination - the mysterious Machu Picchu - will take your breath away.
Everest Base Camp Trek, Nepal
Speaking about legendary hiking trails, we have to bring up the Everest Base Camp Trek. If you want to see the top of the world - there's your chance, and it's easier than you might think. You don't have to be incredibly well prepared because you won't be climbing to the summit.
But, the ascend to the Base Camp and the view of the highest peak in the world is just as unforgettable, as is meeting the culture of the people who call the trail their home.
Kalalau Trail, Hawaii
If hiking through the snowy mountain peaks isn't your cup of tea, maybe the stunning Kalalau Trail will appeal more to your taste. This 35km trail is one of the most challenging Hawaiian trails, but it's also one of the most rewarding ones.
The trail will take you to explore the Hawaiian wildlife through the jungle, mesmerizing waterfalls and the unspoiled Kalalau beach.
Scottish National Trail, UK
The fabled Scottish landscapes are all you imagine them to be and more, which is why the Scottish National Trail is a trail you absolutely have to see. The 864km trail will take you through the whole Scotland, offering a view of some of the most amazing landscapes in the whole country.
The hike starts with easier footpaths and becomes more challenging as you go. And, if you think the distance would be too much for you, you can choose to do a section of the trail.
Blyde River Canyon, South Africa
South Africa is one of the most fascinating places in the world, and if you're a fan of hiking, Blyde River Canyon is truly breathtaking. The trail is 30 kilometres long, which amounts to a perfect weekend hiking trip.
Along the way, you will see some exotic vistas, the jungle, waterfalls and majestic panoramic views of the Canyon. You can break the hike into several shorter hikes and even camp in the authentic hiker huts.
No matter what trail and what part of the world you choose for your next hiking adventure, make sure you have a reliable backpack which is lightweight and durable, like this North Face Recon 32L Backpack that is perfect for a weekend hiking trip.
When you really want to explore the nature, learn about the place, and immerse yourself in the culture of your destination, hiking is the best way to do it. Just find a good backpack and pack smart, and you will be ready for a safe and carefree hiking adventure!