It is a truth universally acknowledged that when it comes to packing for anything, we girls have it tougher. Blokes can shove a spare t shirt and a few bits of kit into a rucksack and off they go, but we girls are often stuck deliberating over difficult weight vs need dilemmas. For those of you that don’t know me from my own site docgonewild.com, I’m definitely not a girl unaccustomed to being in the great outdoors. I am far happier camping out under the stars than shopping on Oxford Street or whatever, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have long drawn-out internal debates about what to pack and what to leave each and every time I go trekking!
For the purpose of this article, I am going to give you some generic packing advice based on a multi-day trek, with the assumption that you are not going to any great altitude or to extremes of temperatures. If you want some more specific packing tips for trekking at altitude, or for heading to certain more inhospitable regions, then check out our other packing lists.
T-shirts – for most trips I take a ‘wet’ t-shirt, to wear whilst hiking and a ‘dry’ t-shirt to wear around camp in the evenings. If you insist you could stretch to a fresh t-shirt for each day. Technical fabric is light, quick-drying and you can get stuff with anti-bacterial stuff in the fabric. Awesome!
Trousers – again I take a ‘wet’ pair for hiking in, these should be technical fabric to ensure quick drying. Those with zip off legs can be good for warmer locations as they double up as shorts for no extra space. I tend to take a pair of running leggins for my ‘dry’ pair to wear around camp at night.
Pyjamas – Nope. I sleep in my ‘dry’ clothes
Underwear – I wear a sports bra to hike in and a normal bra for camp as a small luxury. That’s your choice, but pick something comfy. I take a clean pair of sports pants or each day trekking. I change into a new pair when I put on my ‘dry’ kit, then wear these to hike in the next day.
Socks – Invest in these. These are your barrier against blisters. Make sure you have tried them out before the big trek to make sure they are comfy. I take two pairs to walk in and alternate each day. I also take a pair for round camp at night.
Hat – it gets cold at night pretty much everywhere!
Boot choice can be tricky. It is best to get your fitted and chat through what you will need them for and the best type for your needs. Some considerations include the terrain: if it’s super uneven then consider getting boots with more ankle support. If you are walking mostly on flatter more even trails or if you are looking to cover serious distance each day then lightweight boots will be key. If it’s winter hiking or boggy terrain, then serious waterproofing is important.
Girls, this is tough to hear, and tough to bear, but you are going to be walking out in the wild. You’re going to be filthy. And the more weight you lug around in the way of toiletries the more you are going to sweat. Ditch them! I carry minimal stuff, including:
Wet wipes for hygiene washes
Sunscreen, factor 50 for my face (to stop them pesky wrinkles)
And that’s it…!
A lightweight tent
Weight is everything when you are carrying your own kit, so it’s worth spending a bit extra to shed kilos. Personallly I use this lightweight 3 man tent by Coleman (3 man is the minimum size to comfortably fit 2 grown-ups and their packs): Coleman Lightweight Cobra Unisex Outdoor Backpacking Tent available in Blue – 3 Persons.
If you are heading somewhere with a warmer climate its also worth checking out this amazing Tentsile Flite Tent One Size Dark Grey. Tentsile tents are part tent, part hammock. You set them up between three trees and sleep suspended above the earth. Makes for cool photos and the opportunities for insane sleeping locations are pretty endless, but more importantly if you are going to be sleeping somewhere with a lot of snakes or poisonous creepy crawlies it is a real safety advantage too!
Down bags vs synthetic is really a personal choice, but get one appropriate to the temperature you will be sleeping at. Down bags tend to be warmer but synthetic are more resistant to getting wet, so if you are heading somewhere rainy consider going for synthetic.
Sleeping bag liner
Silk ones are super light, add a few degrees of warmth and can easily be washed to keep things clean
Good for keeping in touch, even just to ensure your phone has charge when you get to the finish point
Even a face net can be useful for evenings or for sleeping in heavily infested locations
Essential for when nature calls in the middle of the night. A headtorch frees your hands up for… you know.
Lightweight camp stove
Hot food and drinks are moral savers, especially on a cold or wet day
A decent rucksack!
Take the time to get one fitted in a store. You want as light a one as possible, but one with enough space for all your kit. It needs to fit your frame and not dig in anywhere. Don’t rush this bit, as a small niggle with your pack now will turn into misery on a long trip. Personally I adore the Osprey brand of rucksacks. They are lightweight, have a really good fit especially designed for female body shapes, they’ve got loads of handy little pockets and attachments and – importantly – they come in a really great range of colours. Check out the two I’m currently using:
This duffel bag isn’t great for carrying around for long distances, but if you’re on a trek where your bags are transported for you it is absolutely ideal. It is super lightweight and fits more than a regular backpack due, it is also much easier to pack and unpack as the whole top opens up, allowing easy access to your belongings.
This 33L backpack is a fab all-rounder. If you are carrying just a day-pack it is lightweight, comfortable and has great hip-pockets to store snacks, suncream and other bits and pieces. If you are a wizz as packing light it is also roomy enough to be used as your main pack – see my report from China.
So that’s my basic packing list. This should serve you well for any normal multi-day hike. Let me know how you get on using it, or if there is anything you think I’ve forgotten. And most of all, enjoy the trek!