Looking for a hiking gear list for a multi-day trek? You’ve come to the right place.
As you can appreciate there are a wide variety of treks and trekking conditions across the globe. Each trekking condition or trek type can influence the type and amount of gear you require.
It is impossible to write a hiking checklist for every type of trek or trekking condition so below we have briefly set out the three key factors that will influence your hiking gear list, as well as provided detailed overviews on the most critical outdoor gear items that you might need for your hike.
We recognise that many of our readers are panning to undertake specific multi-day treks, like Everest Base Camp, Annapurna Circuit or indeed climb Aconcagua. We have therefore also written specific packing lists for these treks, see links below.
Hiking Gear and Three Influences
Depending on when and where you trek, weather will play a major role in the gear you bring with you.
- The dry and ‘warm’ months of summer will mean you will be able to trek lighter. However, if you are trekking at altitude during the summer you’ll still find nights exceptionally cold.
- The Summer monsoon period in regions like South America and Asia is often problematic for trekkers who are unprepared. Having proper wet weather gear is mandatory if you plan to trek during these months.
- The winter months in most destinations around the world are often the toughest trekking conditions to face and having proper cold-weather gear is a must!
Regardless of season it is important to recognise that weather conditions can fluctuate rapidly at high altitude. This was recently evidenced by the extreme snowstorm that hit the Annapurna region in October 2014 (i.e. during the dry season) that killed 43 people (including 21 trekkers).
[thrive_text_block color=”blue” headline=”Better safe than sorry…”]When it comes to planning your gear, our recommendation is to always play it safe. Plan your multi-day hiking gear list with the worse conditions in mind. Even if you are planning to trek during the middle of the dry and warm months, you should have gear that can cope with the heavy summer monsoon rains and bitter cold winter temperatures. This is particularly true if your trek goes to high altitude (see below). [/thrive_text_block]
If your trek remains around sea level and you’re sure of conditions, then you may get away with not bringing certain items. However, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, even if it means carrying a little extra weight!
Altitude plays a major role in the type of hiking gear required.
Weather conditions at high altitude are often unpredictable and volatile. For example, a high wind can turn relatively cold ambient temperatures into freezing conditions by the wind chill factor.
Moreover, one feels the cold a lot more at high altitude. The oxygen depleted environment associated with high altitude means the body needs to work a lot harder to maintain core body temperature. As a result, vasoconstriction in the body’s extremities like fingers and toes occurs so that blood is redirected to core areas in the body. This means that conditions like frostnip and frostbite set in a lot quicker at high altitudes where the impact of cold temperatures are exacerbated by the low oxygen levels.
Proper cold weather gear for high altitude treks is a must!
Length and Type of Trek
Finally, the type of gear required for a trek also varies by the length of the hike and whether the trek is being completed supported or unsupported.
Some treks are relatively short (3-5 days), whereas others, like the famous Annapurna Circuit, are relatively long (upwards of 20 days).
Moreover, some people trek unsupported (i.e. without a porter to help carry gear), whereas others sometimes have a support team and personal porter.
The duration and support structure of your trek has an obvious impact on the amount of gear you require. Our recommendation in general is to try and stay as light as possible whilst ensuring you have adequate gear to cope with all the types of weather conditions that high altitude trekking can throw at you.
Specific Packing Lists
Click here for a full and detailed Everest Base Camp Packing List. Everything from sleeping bags and hiking boots, to rucksacks and jackets.
Click here for the complete Annapurna Circuit Packing List. You’ll find all the gear you need listed along with our personal recommendation for each item.
Click here for the full Aconcagua Packing List. We have included everything you’ll need to make it to the summit of the tallest mountain in the Americas!
Hiking Gear List
The type of hiking clothing you should bring on your multi-day trek is really dependent on what season you plan to trek in.
If you are trekking during the dry, hot months then you can be a little less concerned about super-freezing temperatures that dominate many winter treks.
Nonetheless, there are some basic principles that you should follow when packing your hiking gear. The most important is the principle of layering.
[thrive_text_block color=”blue” headline=”Layering”]Regardless of seasonal variations, climatic conditions often change rapidly between day and night, low altitude and high altitude. The ability to layer up and down as the sun rises and falls, or as you ascend over high passes or across shadowed valleys is key. Below we look at how you build up your clothing layers, starting at the inner most layer, underwear![/thrive_text_block]
[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]Just as the title says, plain and simple sports underwear that breathes well (i.e. not cotton). You can go for a specialist brand like Icebreaker, or just get an cheaper non-brand alternative. You will need 6-8 pairs for a 12 day trek.
Ladies remember to bring at least 2 sports bras.
[thrive_link color=’orange’ link=’http://amzn.to/2yjAoEz’ target=’_blank’ size=’medium’ align=’aligncenter’]Recommended Options on Amazon[/thrive_link][/one_half_last]
[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]The first layer is called your base layer, or next-to-skin layer, as it sits just above your breathable underwear, hugging the skin. It should not be too tight as this restricts blood circulation and inhibits the breathability characteristics of the wickable fibres, but equally it should not be too lose as this creates air gaps that undermine the layering process. A good word to describe how this layer should feel is, snug.
The material for your base layer should be lightweight and made from high wicking fabrics like 100% merino wool.
Excellent suppliers of base layers include Smartwool Lightweight Base Layers and Icebreaker Oasis Base Layers who both provide top and bottom base layers made from 100% merino wool. Their products are super comfortable, great quality and provide incredible moisture control.
[thrive_link color=’orange’ link=’http://amzn.to/2xKQXMN’ target=’_blank’ size=’medium’ align=’aligncenter’]Recommended Options on Amazon[/thrive_link][/one_half_last]
If you are allergic to wool then the Patagonia Capilene Lightweight Base Layers are great synthetic alternatives.
For treks less than 8 days, one pair of top and bottom base layers should be sufficient. For treks over 8 days you should get at least 2 pairs to avoid smelling terrible by the end of the trail. You won’t use this layer everyday, but you will need it on the upper reaches of your trek (>3,500 meters). See long-sleeve and short-sleeve hiking shirts below for details on your everyday trekking wear.
As you will be sweating a lot each day, you want a shirt that dries quickly and performs well in moist / wet environments.
You do not want to trek in cotton as it is hydrophilic and inhibits moisture transfer. Nylon is okay but does not breathe as well as merino or polyester.
[thrive_link color=’orange’ link=’http://amzn.to/2hciUlW’ target=’_blank’ size=’medium’ align=’aligncenter’]Recommended Options on Amazon[/thrive_link][/one_half_last]
Trekking Trousers and Shorts
[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]Your hiking trousers should have the same qualities as your shirts in terms of breathability, weight and wicking properties. A durable, water-resistant outer layer is also beneficial should you encounter rain. Versatility is another factor to look for, in particular the ability to convert trousers to shorts.
We highly recommend these convertible hiking trousers from Craghoppers that come in both men and women variations.
[thrive_link color=’orange’ link=’http://amzn.to/2yjOwxK’ target=’_blank’ size=’medium’ align=’aligncenter’]Recommended Options on Amazon[/thrive_link][/one_half_last]
Second Layer (Fleece Jacket)
[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]The second layer, or insulation layer, is a versatile layer and can be used in your layering system over your base layer, or indeed as a standalone layer that you wear over your trekking shirt when temperatures start to drop. They also come in great use at night when it can get very cold out.
Our preferred second layers consist of synthetic mid-weight Polartec fleece materials. These are great for warmth and comfort, but also provide brilliant breathability. Polartec fleece jackets come in three main types: 100s, 200s and 300s. The 100s are super light but not warm enough, whereas the 300s provide great warmth but are a little heavy. We recommend going for a 200 Polartec fleece jacket.
[thrive_link color=’orange’ link=’http://amzn.to/2wASxvF’ target=’_blank’ size=’medium’ align=’aligncenter’]Recommended Options on Amazon[/thrive_link][/one_half_last]
Third Layer (Insulated Jacket)
Warm jackets are a minefield of complexity but typically split into two main types – down or synthetic (and some are insulated with wool). Down jackets are lighter and generally warmer than synthetic alternatives, but a lot more expensive and not great in wet or moist conditions.
[thrive_link color=’orange’ link=’http://amzn.to/2wAmYSO’ target=’_blank’ size=’medium’ align=’aligncenter’]Recommended Options on Amazon[/thrive_link][/one_half_last]
Here are the key factors to consider when selecting an appropriate jacket:
- Weight and warmth: The weight of a winter jacket can vary from super light (less than 450 grams) to super heavy (more than 1kg). The lightest winter jackets use a down fill and can weigh as little as 200 grams. Down provides the greatest weight-to-warmth ratio. Generally, the lightest jackets (down or synthetic) provide the least warmth and are therefore ideal for moderately cold environments, but not freezing alpine or high altitude environments. Heavy jackets (down and synthetic) are generally the warmest type of jacket but can be cumbersome to transport and trek in. We suggest a mid-weight winter jacket (~500-700 grams) for trekking.
- Waterproofing: Despite downs dominance in terms of weight and warmth, it does have a major flaw – it is much more susceptible to moisture. When down jackets get wet they lose their loft and insulation capacities. This is not to say that a light downpour or even all day snow is going to destroy the insulating qualities of your down jacket, but in similar conditions or very wet conditions, a synthetic jacket will perform better. The key thing to look for, therefore, is a jacket (down or synthetic) that has an outer fabric that has a high water-resistant capacity. Pertex Shield fabric is the best for down jackets and nylon is great on synthetic jackets. If you are looking to trek in a region susceptible to rain we suggest a high water-resistant synthetic jacket.
- Versatility: Unless you plan to use your jacket for a very particular activity (e.g. ice climbing, snowboarding) we suggest going for a jacket that provides as much versatility as possible (i.e. can be used for many different activities in as many different environments).
Here are our three recommendations on jackets:
Best Down Jacket: Outdoor Research Floodlight Jacket
[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]A brilliant all round down jacket that provides good warmth for it’s weight, solid waterproofing (probably the best as far as down jackets go) and great versatility.
Material: Down | Weight: 600 grams
[thrive_link color=’orange’ link=’http://amzn.to/2wDZHz2′ target=’_blank’ size=’medium’ align=’aligncenter’]Recommended Options on Amazon[/thrive_link][/one_half_last]
Best Synthetic Jacket: Arc’teryx Fission Jacket
[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]One of our favourite synthetic jackets is the the Arc’teryx Fission. It has great warmth and waterproofing features, and performs extremely well in wet and cold environments.
Material: Synthetic | Weight: 614 grams
[thrive_link color=’orange’ link=’http://amzn.to/2fhoEOo’ target=’_blank’ size=’medium’ align=’aligncenter’]Recommended Options on Amazon[/thrive_link][/one_half_last]
Great Value Synthetic Jacket: Mountain Hardwear Quasar Jacket
[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]The Mountain Hardwear Quasar Jacket is a pull-over designed jacket that provides great warmth and waterproofing, yet is super light. The design is very minimilstic with limited hand-pockets which some people find off putting but works pretty well for trekking we believe.
Material: Synthetic | Weight: 530 grams
[thrive_link color=’orange’ link=’http://amzn.to/2wDN5rL’ target=’_blank’ size=’medium’ align=’aligncenter’]Recommended Options on Amazon[/thrive_link][/one_half_last]
For the upper reaches of a high altitude trek (>4,000 meters) the temperatures can get very cold, particularly at night. Warm trekking trousers are a must.
Here are the key characteristics to look out for: Water resistant, sun protective, and fleece inner material with quick-drying polyester outer for warmth.
Hard Shell Jacket and Rain Gear
[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]It is a good idea to always have a hard shell jacket to protect you from the elements. A great all-round hardshell is the North Face Resolve Jacket.
In addition it is always worth carrying basic waterproof rain gear that you can quickly throw on should you encounter rain is a must when trekking. You can either get a rain suit top (with a hood) and bottom, or a poncho. We quite like the latter as they are easy to put on and often come with enough rear space to fit over your day pack or hiking rucksack. Make sure they are 100% waterproof, lightweight and store easily.
Here are some effective yet affordable options. Hiking rain gear.
[thrive_link color=’orange’ link=’http://amzn.to/2wAmYSO’ target=’_blank’ size=’medium’ align=’aligncenter’]Recommended Options on Amazon[/thrive_link][/one_half_last]
Sun Protection Hat
[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]A basic sun protection peak or hat, that is easy to store in your day pack (i.e. no straw hats!), lightweight and breathable is a must. The sun intensity at altitude is high and your face will get sunburnt, even if you wear sun protection cream.
We are fans of hats that come with a neck cover that can be adjusted to protect the back of your neck.
Here are some good hiking sun hats.
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Beanie or Head Band
[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]If you haven’t already realised reading this detailed hiking clothing gear list, it can get very cold on upper trails of a high altitude trek. You will need to bring with you a warm beanie or fleeced headband to protect you head and ears from the freezing temperatures at night and during the late afternoons.
[thrive_link color=’orange’ link=’http://amzn.to/2wAX9li’ target=’_blank’ size=’medium’ align=’aligncenter’]Recommended Options on Amazon[/thrive_link][/one_half_last]
Bandana or Neckband
[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]To protect your neck and face from blistering cold temperatures if the wind picks up, high Sun UV during the mid-afternoons at altitude, or indeed to cover your mouth and nose on treks where you will encounter roads and dust (i.e. treks in the Annapurna region), we recommend taking either a hiking balaclava or neck band.
Make sure to get something that is light weight, absorbent, breathable and quick-drying.
These versatile outdoor bandanas are super cheap and can be used as a neckband, scarf, bandanna, head cover or wristband.[/one_half_last]
Like base layer clothing, inner gloves provide the next-to-skin insulation that is critical when hiking in cold temperatures (and it will get really cold on the upper reaches of popular treks like EBC and the Annapurna Circuit or Mount Kilimanjaro). Outer gloves are thicker, waterproof and provides the shell protection needed to prevent freezing hands.
[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]In terms of inner gloves, you want to make sure to get a pair that has great wicking properties (synthetics, wool or even silk) are good. Do not go for a cotton inner glove as this will restrict moisture transfer. You should also make sure that the gloves provide a good thermal lining and are lightweight.
Here are some really affordable and good thermal liner hiking gloves
[thrive_link color=’orange’ link=’http://amzn.to/2jCKyNy’ target=’_blank’ size=’medium’ align=’aligncenter’]Recommended Options on Amazon[/thrive_link][/one_half_last]
[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]The perfect outer gloves provides warmth and are water proof, without being cumbersome or too bulky. Essentially you want gloves that provide great dexterity, whilst also providing exceptional warmth, water resistance and durability.
[thrive_link color=’orange’ link=’http://amzn.to/2yl2f7w’ target=’_blank’ size=’medium’ align=’aligncenter’]Recommended Options on Amazon[/thrive_link][/one_half_last]
Hiking Equipment List
[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]One of the most important pieces of gear for any trekking excursion are hiking boots. In this detailed article we outline the key characteristics to look for in a pair of boots, as well as provide recommendations on good but cheap hiking boots.
Remember your feet are what get you to the top of any trail and back so make sure you follow the guidance in this article, or risk having sore feet, blisters and lost toenails.
There are three key characteristics to look for in a hiking boot. The first two – fit and quality – are decided at point of purchase. The third characteristic is ‘use’ and this is entirely dependent on you breaking your boots in.[/one_half_last]
Get any of these three characteristics wrong and you risk getting sore feet, injuring your back, losing toenails and enduring painful blisters. Let’s deal with each characteristic.
The best way to test good fit is to place your foot in a boot and slide it all the way forward until your toes hit the front of the boot (make sure you are wearing an average cushioned sports sock). Then take your index finger and slide it down the back of the boot between your heal and the boots back support.
A perfect fitting boot will allow you to squeeze your finger in without too much resistance. If you cannot squeeze your index finger down the back of the boot, then unfortunately the boot is too small. If you find that your index finger fits too easily into the back of the boot, then the boot is likely too big. A snug fit, with your index finger in the back of the boot, is just right.
Note: this is not a science, but a good approximation for good fitting boots.
Good quality doesn’t have to cost the earth, in fact you can get some cheap hiking boots that are great quality. Good quality boots have the following design features:
- Medium to high tops for study ankle support. The higher the top the heavier the boot
- The sole of the boot should have a high rubber content and deep lugs for better traction – the deeper the lugs, the heavier the boot
- Medium to heavy weight – heavy boots are good for durability and cushioning, but the extra weight of the boot can be pretty tiring to trek in. We recommend erring on the medium weight side of the scale
- Waterproof – this is pretty standard today but always good to get boots that use GoreTex material for improved waterproofing
- Lacing system should incorporate D-Strings and speed hooks for better ankle support and fast lacing
Once you have got yourself a good fitting pair of boots that has similar characteristics to those set out above, then the task is to break your boots in. Do not, under any circumstances, go on a long duration trek (5-6 hours a day for days on end), without having broken your boots in. The best way to break boots in are to wear them as often as possible before your trekking date. During that time you should undertake at least two decent distance treks (3-4 hours) in your boots. When the inner soles of the boot start to contour the bottom of your foot then you can be confident that your boots are well broken in.
Best Leather Hiking Boots: Asolo Power Matic
[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]The Asolo Power Matic is definitely one of the best quality hiking boots on the market, but of course one pays for that. We have included it here as we believe it provides the best value for money in the top end of the market. The boot should last you many good years of hiking and provide excellent comfort and durability. Mid-weight. Brilliant waterproof qualities with leather and GoreTex lining.
Weight: 785 grams | Fit: Available in Mens and Womens. Review the Asolo Power Matic.
[thrive_link color=’orange’ link=’http://amzn.to/2heM9Vi’ target=’_blank’ size=’medium’ align=’aligncenter’]Recommended Options on Amazon[/thrive_link][/one_half_last]
Best Overall Hiking Boot: Asolo Fugitive (Men) andAsolo Stynger (Women)
The GoreTex lining provides excellent waterproofing and breathability. Lightweight.
For the equivalent ladies model see the Asolo Stynger
Weight: 690 grams | Fit: Available in Mens
[thrive_link color=’orange’ link=’http://amzn.to/2ynBuiz’ target=’_blank’ size=’medium’ align=’aligncenter’]Recommended Options on Amazon[/thrive_link][/one_half_last]
Good Value Hiking Boot: Timberland Chocorua
[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]Coming further down in price yet maintaining very good quality and performance is the Timberland Chocorua hiking boot. Toted as a day hiking boot, we have seen these babies used on many long distance treks and the performance is pretty good.
Don’t expect long-term durability but you should get a couple years of good trekking in before they give up the ghost. Key features: Mid-weight with a GoreTex membrane for waterproof breathability.
Weight: 700 grams | Fit: Available in Mens and Womens
[thrive_link color=’orange’ link=’http://amzn.to/2xjrwQU’ target=’_blank’ size=’medium’ align=’aligncenter’]Recommended Options on Amazon[/thrive_link][/one_half_last]
Cheap and Cheerful Hiking Boots: Hi-Tec Altitude IV
You can be assured of great comfort and durability. The outer material is waterproof full-grain leather. Very light-weight boot.
Weight: 650 grams | Fit: Available in Mens and Womens
[thrive_link color=’orange’ link=’http://amzn.to/2wEp2sF’ target=’_blank’ size=’medium’ align=’aligncenter’]Recommended Options on Amazon[/thrive_link][/one_half_last]
Other Important Footwear Items
Hiking Shoes or Sandals
[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]Each evening when you reach your teahouse or camp, the first thing you are going to want to do is to take off your hiking boots, and not have to put them back on until the next day.
The trouble is you are going to want to walk around the camp and perhaps do some exploring in the surrounding area, and without having to put your hiking boots back on.
The solution: bring with you basic hiking shoes or sandals that you can slip on in camp, and that can double as a hiking alternative shoe for flat terrain.
[thrive_link color=’orange’ link=’http://amzn.to/2jDU6rD’ target=’_blank’ size=’medium’ align=’aligncenter’]Recommended Options on Amazon[/thrive_link][/one_half_last]
[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]Good quality trekking socks are an absolute must for any long-distance trekking excursion.
Avoid cotton or cotton-blend socks like the plaque as they absorb and retain moisture, thus making your feet damp and susceptible to blistering.
The best types of trekking socks are manufactured from wool, preferably merino, as they promote breathability, helping wick moisture away from the foot.
The following merino wool medium trekking socks from Point6, Bridgedale, and Smartwool are all excellent as they all have flat seams (bulky seams increase friction and blistering), and provide great cushioning for the foot.
[thrive_link color=’orange’ link=’http://amzn.to/2xKXmaQ’ target=’_blank’ size=’medium’ align=’aligncenter’]Recommended Options on Amazon[/thrive_link][/one_half_last]
If you are allergic to wool go for an acrylic or acrylic-blend sock like those from Wigwam.
You will also need a pair of thermal socks, regardless of season, on the upper reaches of most high altitude trails as it gets very cold above 4,000 meters.
We recommend extra heavy wool socks used in combination with a Polypropylene liner (see Bridgedale Coolmax Liners for good examples).
Good extra heavy socks are made by Smartwool.
[thrive_link color=’orange’ link=’http://amzn.to/2yjUhLS’ target=’_blank’ size=’medium’ align=’aligncenter’]Recommended Options on Amazon[/thrive_link][/one_half_last]
[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]Gaiters prevent mud, small stones, dust and water from entering your boot when trekking. There is no point having a waterproof boot when the entrance is exposed to the elements. If a trail is well worn and conditions good then gaiters are usually not necessary.
We recommend using a good pair of gaiters.
Here are some affordable gaiter models (don’t spend more then $30-$40).
[thrive_link color=’orange’ link=’http://amzn.to/2jAN9qY’ target=’_blank’ size=’medium’ align=’aligncenter’]Recommended Options on Amazon[/thrive_link][/one_half_last]
Hiking Rucksacks and Duffel Bags
The bags you decide to take with you on your trekking adventure is really dependent on whether you plan to carry your own gear or use a porter.
If you choose the former you will need to take a decent size hiking rucksack (65+ Litres), if you plan to do the latter (i.e. use a porter) then you will need to take a combination of either a hiking rucksack and lightweight day pack (backpack between 20-30 Litres), or a duffle bag (80 litre) and day pack.
Below we discuss the key characteristics of each as well as provide specific recommendations.
[thrive_text_block color=”blue” headline=”Choosing the right size Rucksack…”]It is really important that you take the right type of hiking rucksack should you decide to do a self-supported multi-day trek. There are various types of hiking rucksacks, for example: day packs (10-30L), alpine rucksacks (30L-55L), backpacking rucksacks (55L-75L), expedition packs (75L-100L) and travel packs (these have flaps that zip over shoulder straps to make the pack resemble a suitcase). [/thrive_text_block]
For any self-supported trek you should only be looking at backpacking rucksacks (ideal for medium length trekking adventures 5-15 days or summer trips) or expedition packs (ideal for long trekking adventures >15 days, or winter trips where you need to carry more gear).
Here are the key characteristics to look for in your hiking rucksack:
Hiking rucksacks come with either internal or external frames. As you will be carrying a decent size load, we recommend getting a hiking rucksack that has internal frames as these are great at transferring a heavy load to your hips.
Make sure the frame is aluminium or a carbon fibre composite. Steel frames are sold on cheap rucksacks and are too heavy.
The only real downside on internal frames is that they hug the body a little more tightly than external frames and hence ventilation is not as good – alas, this the price that must be paid for carrying a heavy load!
External frames will also often slip out of their bindings and you’ll find yourself struggling to fit them back in – not very convenient![/one_half_last]
Generally, hiking rucksacks are not waterproof. Nonetheless, we recommend going for a rucksack constructed from durable material like pack cloth or Condura material (particularly in areas of high friction), and covered with a weather-resistant urethane coating. Make sure stitching is tight and inseams unexposed. You can test the former by pulling the shoulder straps and checking if you can see the stitching (good quality bags are so tightly stitched that you shouldn’t see any stitches). Also look for sturdy, strong zippers.
We recommend going for a harness system that provides multi-size adjustments for the greatest versatility and perfect fit. Avoid one-sized fixed or multi-sized fixed harness systems unless you are confident on your pack fit size for your torso (more on this in a bit). Most high performance rucksacks come with a multi-size adjustable harness system.
The suspension system on a hiking rucksack is made-up of the shoulder straps, hip belt, back-pad and stays. The shoulder straps are there to carry some weight (no more than 30%), but there main purpose is to keep the rucksack centred and balanced on the back. Shoulder straps should have an adequate amount of padding and not pinch your shoulder or restrict movement (look out for a new material that has a honeycombed synthetic material that feels like a gel and has great padding). For heavy loads, the hip belt will be your main load-bearing component. Look for thick-padded hip belts, that have strong and sturdy clips, and ideally a moulded shape. Large hiking rucksacks should have a back pad which comes in contact with your lower back and one or two aluminium stays to help weight transfer from your shoulders and hip belt to your pelvis.
Fitting your rucksack is incredibly important, get this wrong and you will suffer back pain. To fit a hiking rucksack correctly you need to know your torso length. You can determine this by getting a friend to use a tape measure and taking a measurement from your 7th vertebrae (this is the knobby protrusion at the top of your neck when you dip you head forward) down to the lowest point on your back that is horizontal to the top of your hip bone. This is your torso size. Make sure that the hip belt wraps around your hips (not your waist or your stomach) and the back pad sits comfortable up against your lumber region on your back. If the pack is fitted correctly, with the harness and suspension system correctly set, you should feel that most of the packs weight is transferred to your pelvis and your arms can move freely.
[thrive_text_block color=”blue” headline=”Note for women…”]Good manufacturers like North Face and Osprey make hiking rucksacks that are also specifically designed for women. Features to look out for include: reshaped hip belts that are proportionally larger and more moulded and shoulder straps that are closer together at the neck and broader on the chest. [/thrive_text_block]
Best Backpack Rucksacks: Osprey Aether (60L-85L) for men or Osprey Ariel (55L-75L) for women
All the features mentioned above are included in this comfortable and versatile pack that is even used on Everest expeditions.
The Aether comes in three capacities: 60L, 70L and 85L and three sizes: S (87x35x36), M (90x35x36), L (92x35x36), measured in height/torso (cm) x width (cm) x depth (cm). Price: ~$300/£180. Check out the Osprey Aether (60L-85L)
The Ariel comes in three capacities: 55L, 65L and 75L and three sizes: XS (81x44x36), S (85x44x36), M (90x44x36), measured in height/torso (cm) x width (cm) x depth (cm). Price: ~$300/£180. Check out the Osprey Ariel (55L-75L)
[thrive_link color=’orange’ link=’http://amzn.to/2xjMAH0′ target=’_blank’ size=’medium’ align=’aligncenter’]Recommended Options on Amazon[/thrive_link][/one_half_last]
Great Value Backpacks: North Face Terra 65 Rucksack
[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]Another great rucksack that comes in at slightly cheaper than the Osprey, is the North Face Terra, available in a 35L, 50L, and 65L for men and 55L for women (we recommend the 65L for men and the 55L for women).
The Terra comes with a multi-size, fully-adjustable harness and suspension system for perfect anatomical fit, and has a great back pad that allows for optimal ventilation.
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If you are part of a structured trek that includes a porter who will carry your gear then you might prefer taking a duffle bag as they can typically hold more gear than a rucksack, are easier to access gear from (not top loading like many rucksacks) and often preferred by porters.
The key characteristics to look for in a duffle bag include:
- Greater than 80 litre capacity
- Constructed from waterproof laminate material to ensure your gear stays dry. We recommend packing your gear into separate plastic bags or packing units (see below) to provide extra waterproofing and easy access to sorted gear
- A strong zipper system that is not susceptible to breaking
- A hand and shoulder strapping system to provide extra versatility
Best Value Duffle (Super Affordable): TYTN Duffel Bag
[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]The TYTN duffel bag (pronounced Tytan) is probably the most affordable large duffel bag on the market. Constructed from strong tarpaulin and lined zippers, the TYTN is seriously strong and water resistant.
Our favourite feature is the shoe compartment which allows one to keep dirty shoes and clothes separate from the rest of the bag.
The TYTN duffel is only available in a 90L version, making ideal for multi-day expeditions like Everest Base Camp or Kilimanjaro.
Best Duffle Bag (But Expensive): North Face Duffel
[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]The undisputed leader in duffle bags (or as North Face like to call them Duffels). This bag is super-durable and totally waterproof. It will last you years, even if you and every airport baggage operative treats it badly.
Available in five sizes – XS: 25 liters; S: 42 liters; M: 72 liters; L: 90 liters; XL: 155 liters. Approximative weight: XS: 1050 g; S: 1250 g; M: 1600 g; L: 1820 g; XL: 2240 g
We recommend the Large. Click here to review colour variants of the North Face Duffel.
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Another Good Duffle: Helly Hansen Duffle
[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]Another great duffle bag is made by Helly Hansen. Priced at slightly cheaper than the North Face duffle, the Helly Hansen is constructed from 100% nylon tarpaulin.
Available in four sizes: 30L, 50L, 90L and 120L
We recommend the standard 90L bag. Click here to review colour variants on the Helly Hansen Duffle.
If you will be using a porter to carry your main gear, then you will most likely want to carry a lightweight day pack where you can have quick access to all your daily accessories (sun cream, sunglasses, hat, camera, snacks, water bottle / hydration bag etc), as well as potentially keep your valuable and important items like your wallet, passport ect on you at all times.
The key characteristics of a great day pack include:
- Lightweight – this probably the most important feature. Make sure your day pack is as light as possible (between 20L and 30L is perfect)
- Compression straps as they reduce weight stress on your back
- Side mesh pockets for quick access to your water bottles, or if you plan to use a hydration bladder make sure your day pack is designed with hydration bag compartment
- Ensure your day pack has a snug fitting rain cover
Best Daypack: Osprey Talon 22
[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]The Osprey Talon 22 is a brilliant day pack that will easily fit all your essentials in a comfortable and well-supported bag.
The Talon is definitely a leader in the lightweight market, providing versatility, high performance and quality design in a neat multi-purpose pack. The daypack also features a special compartment to put your hydration bladder.
Two sizes are available: S/M (20L) and M/L (22L) and the bag retails for ~$100/£70.
[thrive_link color=’orange’ link=’http://amzn.to/2wuX8Ew’ target=’_blank’ size=’medium’ align=’aligncenter’]Recommended Options on Amazon[/thrive_link][/one_half_last]
Great Vale Daypack: North Face Borealis
[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]The North Face Borealis is a multi-purpose day pack. It includes all the key features that are required for multi-day trekking (including a hydration bladder compartment), as well as useful non-trekking features, such as a laptop compartment.
The Borealis has a 29L capacity and comes in at a cheaper price than the Osprey Talon, retailing at $80/£50.
Available in both men and women variants.
Check out the North Face Borealis
[thrive_link color=’orange’ link=’http://amzn.to/2xeTT1d’ target=’_blank’ size=’medium’ align=’aligncenter’]Recommended Options on Amazon[/thrive_link][/one_half_last]
[thrive_text_block color=”blue” headline=”ProTip: Travel Bag Organisers”]A pro tip that we use to great effect when trekking long distances are travel bag organisers, which can be used to source separate your gear for better backing and access on the trail. They also provide a great way to separate wet or dirty gear.[/thrive_text_block]
[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]There are two main suppliers – Eagle Creek with their Pack-it system cater for the premium market, or you could go with the equally good but a lot cheaper Ecosusi Travel Bag system (as seen adjacent).
Alternative, if you want to go completely cheapo then use clear plastic bags to separate your gear.
[thrive_link color=’orange’ link=’http://amzn.to/2wtHPvL’ target=’_blank’ size=’medium’ align=’aligncenter’]Recommended Options on Amazon[/thrive_link][/one_half_last]
Hiking Gear List
Sleeping Bags For Multi-Day Trek
A warm sleeping bag is an absolute must for all long treks, regardless of the season you plan to hike.
You can guarantee freezing nights on nearly all trails in mountainous regions and without a warm sleeping bag you will be uncomfortable and cold.
Below we have set out the key characteristics to look for in the best hiking sleeping bags for a multi-day trek, as well as provided three recommendations based on price and performance.
[thrive_text_block color=”blue” headline=”Buying vs. Renting”]It is often possible to rent sleeping bags in country you are trekking, however, in general we recommend you bring your own as reusing a sleeping bag that has been previously used by lots of smelly trekkers before you can be rather unpleasant and unhygienic experience. Of course, if you only plan to use your sleeping bag once then renting, or borrowing from a friend, is the preferable option.[/thrive_text_block]
If you are set on renting a sleeping bag then it is still worthwhile looking for one with similar characteristics as those set out below, and a good idea to bring a sleeping bag liner (here are some good examples) to provide a slightly more hygienic sleeping environment and additional insulation.
Down vs. Synthetic
There are two types of sleeping bags – goose or duck down, and synthetic. In general down sleeping bags are better quality, lighter and more comfortable. They are however more expensive than synthetic sleeping bags.
To decide between down and synthetic the two key considerations are weight and cost.
If you plan to trek unsupported (without a porter carrying your gear) then lugging the additional weight of a synthetic sleeping bag needs to be offset against the cost of purchasing a down sleeping bag.
The cost calculation is really dependent on your personal budget and more importantly, frequency of camping and hiking.
We recommend going with a down sleeping bag if you plan on doing frequent unsupported camping and hiking (2-4 a year), and want a product that is reliable and a long-term investment. If you are trekking as a one off with a support crew, and might only use the sleeping bag again in a few years for another trek, then it might make sense to go for a cheaper synthetic option, or indeed rent a bag.
As we mentioned above, nights on any high altitude trekking expedition, get very cold. Hence your sleeping bag needs to be able to cope with extremely cold temperatures. We recommend your sleeping bag has a rating at a minimum of -10 degrees Celsius (14 Fahrenheit).
It is however better to have a warmer sleeping bag than a colder one – you would rather be too warm than too cold.
Shape and Design
The best hiking sleeping bag design is the mummy-shape as it is crafted to fit the contours of a human body, and hence provides better insulation than standard rectangular-shaped sleeping bags.
Most adult body-types fit into a mummy-shaped sleeping bag, but if you have a uniquely short, tall or wide body shape then make sure you pick a size of sleeping bag that will fit your body contours snuggly.
The other two design features to look out for are an insulated hood that can be pulled around your head with a draw chord, and a two-way zipping system which improves insulation and allows for unzipping at both ends of the sleeping bag.
Best Down Bag for Warmth: Mountain Hardwear Phantom (men) / Phantasia (women)
[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]Mountain Hardwear make great sleeping bags, and the Phantom range is their leading down sleeping bag for men (the Phantasia provides the same variants and performance for ladies). It is probably one of the lightest sleeping bags on the market and amazing quality.
The Phantom / Phantasia comes in three styles, here we recommend two as the third is not warm enough:
Mountain Hardwear Phantom 0: Temp rating: 0F/-18C | Weight: 2LB.9Oz / 1.17kg
Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15: Temp rating: 15F/-9C | Weight: 2LB.1Oz / 0.95kg
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Best Synthetic Sleeping Bag: Mountain Hardwear Lamina (Unisex)
[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]Mountain Hardwear also manufacture a brilliant synthetic sleeping bag called the Lamina. As far as synthetic bags go the Lamina provides excellent performance for an affordable price. The welded lamina construction reduces cold spots and the nylon shell repels water. There are six variations in temperature rating but we only recommend two for a multi-day trek:
Mountain Hardwear Lamina -30: Temp rating: -30F/-34C | Weight: 5LB.1Oz / 2.29kg
Mountain Hardwear Lamina -15: Temp rating: -15F/-26C | Weight: 4LB.9Oz / 2.05kg
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Best Value Sleeping Bag: Marmot Trestles 15
As far as synthetic bags go the Marmot is one of the lighter options on the market, making it an affordable bag for self-supported trekkers. Reviews are always good with Marmot products and the quality of their bags align well to their pricing.
Downsides are that its rating to 15F/-9C can feel a little optimistic when temperatures drop.
Marmot Trestles 15: Temp rating: 15F/-9C | Weight: 3LB.14Oz / 1.725kg
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Other good sleeping bags include:
The Kelty Cosmic Down, either rated at 20F/-7C or 0F/-18C (expect to pay between $150-$200), the North Face Blue Kazoo (Synthetic) (expect to pay $300), or for a very affordable, but heavy sleeping bag the Coleman North Rim, rated to 15F/-9C, will only set you back (~$60)
Other Sleeping Accessories
Thermal Camping Pad
[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]If you’re planning to do any camping then we recommend bringing a thermal camping pad or camping air mattress to provide a softer surface to sleep on, whilst also protecting your body from the radiating cold ground. Check out these cheap and easy-to-store thermal camping pads from Amazon.
[thrive_link color=’orange’ link=’http://amzn.to/2wEcSA8′ target=’_blank’ size=’medium’ align=’aligncenter’]Recommended Options on Amazon[/thrive_link][/one_half_last]
Sleeping Bag Liner
If you plan to rent a sleeping bag for your trek then we recommend bringing with you a liner that can be placed inside the sleeping bag and used for additional insulation and improved cleanliness. Make sure to get a mummy-shaped liner that will fit the contours of your rented sleeping bag. Here are some good mummy sleeping bag liners.
This is really an optional accessory but if you are someone who needs a soft cushioning when you sleep, you might want to bring an inflatable pillow. If you get one of those neck support pillows then this can double as a cushion on your flight to / from your destination. Make sure the pillow is light and stores easily. Here are some affordable inflatable pillow examples.
Other Key Hiking Accessories
[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]Trekking is one exercise that puts serious strain on your major leg joints and knees. This is particularly true in mountainous regions like Nepal where the average trek length is 10-12 days, with 5-8 hours of trekking each day. Add in the rough terrain that undulates frequently and you can see why most people complain of sore legs.
The best way to reduce the impact of long-distance trekking on your knees and joints is by using walking or trekking poles. In fact good trekking poles can reduce the impact on your knees by up to 25% – as assessed in a 1999 study by The Journal of Sports Medicine.
We recommend using trekking poles as a mandatory hiking accessory on multi-day treks, as they offer better balance on trails and reduce stress on joints during ascents and descents.[/one_half_last]
Key characteristics to look for in a pair of trekking poles are:
Heavy poles (>350 grams) tend to be better at enduring long and sustained treks across rough terrain as they are often more durable. Light poles (<250 grams per pole) are however easier to handle, expend less energy and make for better storage and transport. We recommend going for mid-weight trekking poles lightweight (250-350 grams per pole)
Good trekking poles should be fully adjustable. There are two main adjustable systems – lever-locking or twist-locking. We recommend lever-locking systems as they are easier to use, and more durable (despite being slightly heavier)
Pole grips are usually made from cork, rubber or foam. Cork is a great material and super durable, but not as good as rubber in terms of insulating warmth. Foam is the least durable type of grip but the best at wicking moisture away from the grip and hands. If we were pushed to recommend a grip type we would say rubber or foam, for their warmth / wicking properties, but cork is still our overall favourite for its durability and lower susceptibility to chaffing the hands and causing blisters.
The Pole itself is usually constructed from lightweight aluminium or carbon fibre (which is lighter than aluminium). We don’t have too much of a preference here, as long as the structure is sturdy and mid-weight.
Recommended Trekking Poles
[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]The market leader for trekking poles is Black Diamond. We recommend two models from their range. At the premium end the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork trekking poles are incredibly good. A cheaper alternative are the Black Diamond Ultra Distance (see full review).
[thrive_link color=’orange’ link=’http://amzn.to/2wALhA3′ target=’_blank’ size=’medium’ align=’aligncenter’]Recommended Options on Amazon[/thrive_link][/one_half_last]
Water Bottle/Hydration Bladder
[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]When trekking long distances you will need to drink at least two litres (preferably 3L) of purified water each day. You will be sweating a lot during the day and replacing fluids and staying well hydrated helps starve off the symptoms of altitude sickness, and is critical in keeping your energy levels up.
It can be tricky to carry that much water so we recommend drinking approximately 500ml of water before your days trekking begins, refilling your water bottle before departure and keeping a spare bottle in your pack that is already filled. This will give you 1.5-2 litres on the trek and you can top up your daily consumption with another 500ml at the next camp.
We recommend getting two 0.75-1L Camelbak Eddy Tritan Water Bottles as they are light (which is good for long distance treks) and provide good insulation, although you will still need to wrap your bottle in socks and spare clothes to avoid water freezing on the colder stretches of your trek.
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[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]Hydration bladders are another great option as they sit inside your day pack with a tube that runs over your shoulder and to your mouth, have become very popular. Hydration bladders can carry between 2L-3L of water.
We recommend either the Geigerrig Hydration Engine (3L)Geigerrig Hydration Engine (3L), which is the only fully pressurised system on the market, making it easier to drink from than other alternatives.
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[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]A reliable and good headlamp is a must for multi-day treks. Although you will unlikely be doing any nighttime treks, you might very well do a few early morning treks (before dawn), for example, on the Everest Base Camp trek it is common to wake up before sunrise to trek up to the viewpoint on Kala Patther.
Also, some teahouses are devoid of electricity and hence night-time toilet excursions can be a little disorientating without a headlamp to guide the way.[/one_half_last]
The key things to look for in a good headlamp are:
- Light / brightness quality: The higher the brightness the better. Of course this comes at a costs to battery life. Ideally you want a max beam distance of greater than 70 meters and a light output of greater than 100 lumens
- Battery life: The longer the better. This often means the headlamp needs to hold more batteries, which in turn makes it heavier. We recommend a minimum high mode run time of 30 hours
- Weight: As you are carrying this device on your head, the lighter the better. No more than 230 grams
Best Overall Headlamp: Black Diamond Icon
[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]The Black Diamond Icon is one of the heaviest – 230 grams (nearly double the average weight of headlamps) – and most expensive headlamps on the market, which you would think makes it one of our least favourites.
But here’s the thing, it’s light output is amazing (200 lumens, about 100 lumens more than the next best head lamp), the max beam distance is very good (up to 100 meters) and the high mode battery run time is 80 hour!!
If you want the best in the market and are willing to splash out a little then get the Icon.
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Alternatively a big step down in price but still pretty good is the Black Diamond Spot (weight = 93 grams, 90 Lumens, 50 hours high mode battery life, 70 meter max beam distance). Price: $35 / £20 (see full review)
Best Value Headlamp: Petzl Tikka XP
[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]Petzl make great headlamps and many of their brands would be worth mentioning here, but the one that we think deserves specific mention is the Petzl Tikka XP.
Retailer at ~$40 / £25 the Tikka XP is super light 88 grams, provides decent battery life (up to 70 hours on high mode) and rather good light for it’s size (max beam distance of 60 meters and 80 lumens of light output.
If you would like to review of Petzl brands then Petzl headlamps.
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[one_half_first][/one_half_first][one_half_last]When it comes to sunglasses and trekking over several days, there are two considerations you need to take into account. First is the altitude. The most popular treks in Nepal, Africa and South America, for example an EBC trek or Kilimanjaro trek, reach an altitude of over 5,000 meters where the UV intensity can be very high. This can be very damaging to your eyes if you don’t have adequate sunglasses. The second factor is the snow cover, which acts to reflect and intensify visible light. Again too much visible light is damaging to your eyes (imagine staring into the sun to get a sense of high altitude trekking without sunglasses).
All Julbo lenses offer 100% protection from UVA, B and C rays, and there category four rating lenses block up to 90% of visible light, making them perfect for high altitude treks. Category three an below are fine for driving or wearing around the town – category 4 is required for high mountain environments.
Julbo’s most versatile lens is the ‘Camel’ which gets darker and lighter depending on the light intensity – i.e. it ranges from Category 2 to 4. It’s a transition lens that comes in many different models, we recommend two for high altitude trekking excursions:
The Julbo Trek is a slightly more sporty and technical sunglass range that provides a great alternative to the Montebianco or Monterosa, but might look out of place in and around the town.
If you plan to do any trekking peaks, snow activities, high altitude climbing or ice climbing then we recommend the Julbo Explorer range as they provide a much more secure fit and high wrap shells for additional protection.
Personal Gear and Medications
Trekking Towel – A small to medium sized trekking towel can come in great use. LifeVentures or Discovery provide good, quick-drying trekking towels.
Pee Bottle or Funnel (optional) – These are ideal for men and women who need to answer the call of nature at night and don’t have easy access to a toilet. See Freshette Pee Funnels for women and standard pee bottles for men.
Small Locks – To protect your belongings in your rucksack or duffle bag
Waterproof Ziplock Bags – These come in handy for storing important / valuable items like your money, a passport and electrical equipment
Camera / Videocamera – You will definitely want to capture your experience in HD so if you don’t have a good camera now is the time to get one. Here are some recommended and affordable Digital SLR cameras. Remember, you want to make sure your camera is light but still able to capture high quality images. We like the Panasonic Lumex. If you are more inclined to take a video camera then you might want to consider the GoPro.
Book / Kindle – Bring reading material.
Playing Cards – To keep you and fellow hikers entertained in the evenings
Notebook / Journal and Pen – To chronicle your hiking experience
Water Purification Tablets – Treating water is standard is standard on most multi-day hikes. Please don’t buy bottled water as this just adds to the waste problem. When using water treatment tablets make sure to add the right number based on the volume of water in your bottle. A pack of one hundred tablets should be more than enough.
Isotonic Powder – Can be used to flavour your water nicely and helps replace electrolytes, improving energy levels and aiding water absorption. Here are some good Isotonic powdered drinks
Diamox (for high altitude treks) – Also know as acetazolamide, is a medication that can be used as a prophylactic (preventative) solution for altitude sickness. It does not cure altitude sickness and should never therefore never be used as a method to continue ascending to high altitudes. It can however help prevent the onset of altitude sickness and is commonly used by high altitude climbers and trekkers. Please seek proper medical advice before taking Diamox. You can read a detailed article on Diamox here.
General Medications – We recommend taking paracetamol or aspirin for headaches and Imodium for diarrhoea
Basic First Aid Kit – If you are joining an organised trek, your guide will most likely be carrying a first aid kit. If you are hiking unsupported or independently then a first aid kit is a must. Here are some compact and good outdoor first aid kits: Outdoor First Aid Kits
Suncream / Lip balm – No one wants burnt skin or cracked lips! Be sure to bring 1 x suncream (SPF 30) and 1 x lip balm
Baby wipes – For quick and easy wet washe when no showers are in sight! bring 1 x baby wipes
Toiletries – Toothbrush and tooth paste (note: please use purified water when brushing teeth as bacteria enters cracked gums easily), bring 2 x rolls of toilet paper (this can easily be bought on the trail but the quality is often poor)
Blister Plasters – The dreaded blisters! We recommend taking Compeed blister plasters
Oximeter – This device is useful in testing Sp02 levels, a good indicator of altitude sickness. Here are some Finger Pulse Oximeters
Hand Sanitizer – Great for disinfecting hands before and after eating, or when they get dirty during the hike
If you feel anything is missing from this multi-day hiking packing list we would love to hear your suggestions. You can leave a comment below and we will respond within 24 hours.