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What to Put in Your Hiking Backpack

author image Julie Boehlke
Julie is an avid outdoor enthusiast who loves to camp with friends and family. Julie spends her free time writing, working on her novel and brewing up new recipes of wine—her newest hobby. She enjoys scouring junk shops and antique boutiques in search of rare finds and one of-a-kind treasures. She collects vintage dishes and antiquarian books. Julie spends her days being followed around aimlessly by her most adoring fan—Mushu the pug. She ventures out on weekends to the remote trails and deep north woods of Michigan. Julie also enjoys exploring out of the way nooks and crannies along the great lakes shoreline.
What to Put in Your Hiking Backpack
What to Put in Your Hiking Backpack

Having a successful hiking trip depends in part on the supplies and gear you have inside your backpack. To assure you are prepared for the open trail, consider the length of the hike and your backpack capacity. In addition to your gear, it is important you have everything packed properly and within easy reach. Focusing on a light load also reduces the chance of muscle strain and discomfort.

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Pack your hiking backpack around what you are going to eat. Include food that withstands varying weather conditions, such as beef jerky and packaged snacks. Ensure that everything is sealed, and keep nuts, trail mix, dried or dehydrated foods fresh and moisture-free. Keep poultry and meat cool with ice packs and a cooler. Depending on your excursion plans and location, bring a bear container to protect food from prying four legged animals. Pack enough water and fluids to accommodate the length of your trip, and store it in side pockets for easy access. If you will be gone for several days, consider a lightweight, portable water filtration system.

First Aid

Prepare a well-stocked, lightweight first-aid kit. Include adhesive bandages, compress dressings, antibiotic ointment, cloth tape, aspirin, scissors, gauze pad and tweezers. Add important medications and emergency contact information.

Camping Gear

Choose lightweight and portable camping gear. Use a backpacking tent rather than a camping tent because it weighs less and packs conveniently on the outside top of your pack. Attach your sleeping bag, pad, blanket and pillow to the outside bottom of your backpack to allow for more interior room. Secure your camping stove or portable fuel tank in the middle or bottom of the pack, while using clothing to surround fragile items to prevent breakage.

Often Used Items

You can easily pack too many items for your trip, leading to exhaustion and a ripped or worn backpack. Do not allow the pack capacity to exceed 30 percent of your total body weight. Pack your basic necessities such as a lightweight pot, simple cooking utensils, bug spray, sunglasses, rain gear, knife, compass and map. But keep your pack as lightweight as possible by using items that weigh as little as possible.

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