How can your backpack help you enjoy a perfect hike?

How should you start packing for your hike? Is it your first time? Then it can be a doozy. First, deciding what’s necessary and what’s surplus is going to be harder than picking your poison at Starbucks. We often suffer from the dilemma of what’s too less and what’s a lot! If everything is necessary, how do finally plan on carrying it all?

What is too much?

Well, there are a few things you need to carry from home, and then there are a few, you can buy from the campsite depending on weather conditions. We do not see much point in carrying a raincoat if you are planning on hiking on the Cheyenne Mountain State Park in March.

If you are an amateur hiker, you will find yourself lugging around a 20-kilo backpack with knick-knacks and other stuff you may never need on a trail. Less is more in the case of short nature hikes. Sometimes, all you need is a water container, some mosquito spray, an extra pair of shorts and tee, extra pair of socks and you are ready to go. This is a day’s hike plan, where you do not plan on facing a lot of hurdles and delays. You will find yourself schlepping a few pieces from here and from there once you start gaining experience.

The first need of all hikes

However, you sure do need a sturdy backpack that can take all the load. In fact, that is the first thing you need – a simple drawstring backpack for your hiking adventures that can pack all your necessities and your whimsies. Your backpack needs to be all terrain and all weatherproof. A good backpack is a key ingredient of an awesome trekking and hiking experience. Imagine, you are hiking along a beautiful trail, and your bag strap snaps midway. You cannot just leave everything behind and continue on your way. You cannot always find a shop to fix your bag and lugging around a broken backpack is just plain annoying. You have to be extra careful about not dropping your stuff and about balancing your weight in treacherous parts of the trail.

We prefer a small backpack for a one-day hike

They are easy to carry, lightweight and you can easily pass through mountain passes and crevices without squeezing much. We have done the unspeakable while prepping for impromptu hikes. We have “repurposed” our laptop bags, college backpacks and school bags for the lack of time and funds. They may have sufficed until now, but what about more challenging one-day trails? Where you need to cover challenging, terrains and your back needs full support? You need a good backpack that is waterproof, and that can hold all the load for the hike’s necessity.

Is bigger always better?

If you are an ardent nature lover and hiker who loves going on frequent hikes, you should go for a sturdier and slightly roomier backpack. Those collapsible ones, which fit everything from a single pair of track pants to a tent, are ideal for such hikers. Some of these multi-purpose bags come in various sizes too. This keeps them light, well supported, sturdy and durable. You will not need to worry about snapping straps and broken bottoms with an overall all-terrain backpack with full spinal and shoulder support.

Do not forget your camera

The ideal camera bag is the one with a complete waterproof guarantee. If you have a DSLR camera, you need to invest in a great bag that fits the camera, the lens, and other parts. It is also the best place to store a few necessary medicines in case an emergency strokes. Although most DSLR camera bags come with a sling strap, you should look for one with a waist strap and buckle. This will evenly distribute the weight to your hips rather than add weight to your shoulders. Remember, you will not be carrying just the DSLR on your trip. We all wish we could, but that never happens!

How to keep it all dry?

In case your luggage is not waterproof, or you do not trust the top flap of your bag to keep your belongings dry on a rainy day, go for a dry sack. You can never really predict the weather even with an AccuWeather check before leaving home. Dry sacks are rather light, and you should always keep them inside a side pouch of your drawstring backpack, tucked inside the drawstring or right on top of all the luggage. If you are expecting rain, never leave home for a trek or a hike without a dry sack. They are a smart investment for the nature lovers who lust for roaming in the unknowns.

Here’s an important tip

This one is for all the new travelers. If possible, do not carry a sleeping bag. If you are heading to a campsite, you will find one locally. If you are worried about the camp office running out (this happens during the hiking and camping season), you can always pre-book one so a comfy and warmed up sleeping bag is ready when you arrive at the campsite with aching muscles and tired feet.

Always carry some water purifying agents if you are planning on traveling remotely. Sometimes, you will find purified water for sale in and around the camp zones and along the trail. Some centers have UV filtration programs. Although this may seem like an added expense, you will have to carry less from home. Besides, carrying water canisters is just ridiculous when you can buy bottled water on the way. Sterilization drops work great too. You need to give about 20-30 minutes to let the chemical work. The chemical makes water taste and smells a little funny, but it keeps your stomach A-Okay!

Do not forget your sunscreen, your hats, insect repellents, deo and hand sanitizer while packing the essentials. Throw in a few high protein snacks and basic first aid, just in case you have a rough brush with nature. All in all, get ready to have fun once you have packed everything just right!

Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University.

I have been the editor at NeuFutur / neufutur.com since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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