What to Pack For An Overnight Hike

What to pack for an overnight hike

There’s no greater experience than spending a night camping in nature. But the lead up to any hiking trip can bring on a variety of different emotions and for a lot of people these emotions are anxiety or stress. No hiking experience should ever be lessened by these emotions. The best thing that you can do to help concur these fears is to be prepared and organised for any occasion. That’s where our extremely detailed list of what to pack for an overnight hike comes in. With this list you will never forget those spare hair ties or something more important again. Whether you are packing for a one-night hike or multi-day expedition, what you need never changes much. There are a few exceptions with what clothes you take depending on the weather but generally not much else will change for trip to trip.

I know how overwhelming packing for your first hiking trip can be. So, I have put together this detailed hiking packing list with everything that I pack from the small items I find useful to the number of t-shirts i take. There’s also an explanation on each item with the different types of products available. I have also included a few links to some of my favourite items.

I know that getting your own hiking kit together can be costly so I’ve also tried to included a few money saving tips that I’ve learnt over the years. But unfortunately, most of the time you get what you pay for with hiking gear.

What to pack for an overnight hike

Click on any item to jump to that section for more details. 

what to pack for a hike

What to pack for an overnight hike

Hard Wear

Hiking packing List –

Pack + Waterproof liner

You need to get a pack that fits you well. So what a good pack is will be different for everyone. When trying it on at the shops make sure that you put some weight in it to get a good feel for it. Most of the weight should be on your hips with the shoulder straps sitting just on top of your shoulders.

If you are after a heavy duty pack that can withstand anything get one made from Canvas. If weight is more of an issue there are plenty of lightweight synthetic materials to choose from.

I have a 42lt pack for shorter hikes and travelling. I did still manage to hike 8 days fully self supported on The O trek in Patagonia with this pack, but it wasn’t ideal. For longer hikes I have an 80lt pack.

waterproofing

To waterproof your pack you can buy specific pack liners from sea to summit. I’ve had mine for almost 10 years but if you want a cheaper option a heavy duty garbage bag will do the trick. I prefer waterproofing my pack on the inside over pack covers for many reasons but the main one being it can’t come off or get caught on branches.

If you have already water proofed your pack you don’t need to use dry bags specifically for packing things into on the inside. You will need something to keep everything separated if you value your sanity.

Hiking packing List  –

Tent

Whether you want a tent, bivvy or some kind of tarp is a personal preference. I used to love sleeping in a bivvy out in the open but now I prefer my tent. When looking to purchase a tent the 4 main considerations are –

  • Is it seam sealed? Is the inside of the stitching lined with glue and tape? If it’s wet this will stop any little droplets making their way inside. This is the number one thing I look for in a good quality tent.
  • Does it have a tub floor? What this essentially means is does the floor curve and continue up to wall of the tent a little bit. This is going to great if you ever experience any heavy rain.
  • Is it free standing. Can I pick the tent up and move it to a new location once its erected? Can it be set up with no or minimal pegs? This is really handy when camping on hard ground or even soft sand.
  • What is the rating? Tents are rated in seasons. 1 season being designed for warm dry weather and a 5 season tent being designed for snow.

We have a MSR Elixir 2 and love the fact that is has 2 side doors. It’s also a reasonable price for a good quality tent.

If you are just starting out and don’t want to outlay a lot of money, look into hiring a tent.

Hiking packing List –

Sleeping Mat

There are two types of sleeping mats – foam and inflatable.

Inflatable mats are lot more comfortable to sleep on and pack away a lot smaller than foam mats. But they are also a lot more expensive.

If you already have an inflatable mat but need some extra insulation. Using a foam mat as well is a great way to add more warmth without spending more money. When shopping pay attention to the R value (warmth) if you are a cold sleeper. The higher the number the warmer the rating. Be aware usually the warmer the inflatable mat the bulkier they become.

Never leave an inflatable mat blown up during the day. The heat can cause it to delaminate. Always unscrew the valve and inflate again before going to bed.

Hiking packing List –

Sleeping bag

Down vs Synthetic.

Down is warmer and more compact but needs to be looked after. It can’t get wet and needs to be washed a specific way.

Loft – This is the quality and type of the feathers used. Look for something above 600.

Fill – This is how the amount of feathers in the jacket are measured. Obviously, the better-quality the feathers the less fill required to reach the same warmth and less weight you have to carry.  

Synthetic is the other option. Down doesn’t work at all when it’s wet. In down products the feathers create a barrier and your body will warm up the air in-between which then in return insulates you. When wet, the feathers clump together and don’t allow this to happen.

This won’t happen with synthetic fibers but they will always be a little bulkier.

Mummy vs Regular – This refers to the shape of the bag. A mummy bag is tapered at the feet. A regular bag stays rectangular. A mummy bag will be warmer but some people think they are restricting.

Always use a liner with your sleeping bag so that you can use this instead of the whole bag. You can get cotton or silk liners if your bag is already warm enough. Thermal liners are a great way to add some extra warmth on winter trips.

The only other thing that I waterproof as well as my pack is my sleeping bag. I have a down bag and I really don’t want it to get wet. All I do is line the inside of the bag the sleeping bag came with a garbage bag. Once i have stuffed my bag in like usual I just squeeze all of the air out then twist the top of the garbage bag a little then tuck it down the side.

Sea to Summit make good down and synthetic bags.

Hiking packing List –

camp chair

A camp chair is a little bit of luxury on the trail. There a few types that you can get.

Hiking packing List –

Bear canister

I have never used one of these personally but since the majority or our readers and followers come from North America I thought I’d include it as a reminder to check the requirements of the area you plan to hike in.

never forget your tent on a hike - just like your outdoor first aid kit

What to pack for an overnight hike

cooking + Eating

What to pack for an overnight hike –

Gas Stove

There are many options to consider here.

If you will be hiking at altitude or in very low temperatures. What types of food do you plan on cooking? Gourmet meals or light weight heat and eat options.

The Jetboil and MSR whisperlite international are my two favourites. I love the whisperlite international because it can be pressurized, the flame is reasonably adjustable, it’s repairable in the field and can run on any type of liquid fuel. The jet boil is great because it boils so quickly and is compact.

And of course, the old, reliable Trangia stove is a great option too. Especially if you want something that will last forever. One downside to these is that when using methylated spirits as a fuel you get a residue of black soot left on your pots. I have found that adding a little bit of water into the fuel helps but be careful not to add too much as it will slow down the cooking time.

What to pack for an overnight hike –

lighter / flint / matches

I personally have never found any water proof matches that actually work so I always carry a lighter with my cooker (even if it has an auto ignition – you never know when this will fail) and a flint as an emergency back up.

What to pack for an overnight hike –

bowl, cutlery + mug

I use a good old plastic container with a pretty simple plastic spoon I got from an outdoor store years ago or just eat from my cooking pot. I have tried all of the fancy sea to summit collapsible bowls and although I love the idea they have never lasted very long for me. They do great light weight plastic bowls and mugs though.   

What to pack for an overnight hike –

washing up

Sea to summit do awesome little environmentally friendly travel sized detergents and hand sanitizers. You can also buy your own little travel containers to refill yourself. Be careful with what chemicals you may be accidentally adding to water ways. Often hot water on its own will be more than enough to clean your dishes.

Tea towels are a personal preference but if you do carry one make sure its microfiber and can easily be wrung out to dry quickly. 

What to pack for an overnight hike –

water

I carry a minimum of 2 liters on every hike, day or overnight. Depending on the availability of water I may take more. It’s good to have 2 separate vessels whether it is two water bottles or one bottle and one bladder incase one starts to leak.

I love Nalgene or Camelbak water bottles because they are pretty robust and you can fill them with hot water of a night to make a hot water bottle. You can’t do this with the cheaper ones, they will melt. They are also BPA free.

Bladders

You can’t go past a MSR dromedary. Again you can put hot water in them. They are really tough and durable and come in a few different sizes. I love the 4 litre ones because I can half fill them for during the day and fill them right up when at camp to either treat a lot of water at once of just have it handy. You will need to buy a separate hose extension for them. They aren’t cheap but they are worth it. You will never need to buy another bladder or worry about it leaking throughout your pack. Another cool thing is that they have they same lid as the Nalgene bottles.

I carry a bottle of liquid betadine in my first aid kit and 3 drops per litre of water will kill any bugs. It’s a great backup to have. If I know I will need to be treating my water I will take a steri-pen or water purifying tablets depending on where I am and what I am treating the water for.

our stove and water bottle we are always sure to pack

What to pack for an overnight hike

clothes

Hiking packing List –

Rain Gear

Your rain gear needs to be seam sealed. This means there is a little line of tape running along the seams on the inside of the garment (the same as your tent). Some high end companies don’t have this while some budget ones do. It really varies from jacket to jacket. Make sure it’s the first thing you look for.

You need a hood on your rain coat. I don’t understand why some companies make raincoats without a hood. I love to wear a quick drying cap under my hood when it rains to stop any water from landing on my face and this makes a big difference in my comfort level.

Rain pants are good for wet days around camp but they aren’t that great to hike unless it’s very cold.

Gortex, E-vent, Neoshell, H2No

Once upon a time it was just Gortex but a few years ago their patent ran out so now there are lots of other products that essentially do the same thing but have a different name. They all allow your rain jacket to breath while being water proof. Have you ever tried to hike with a garbage bag on? Plastic doesn’t breath at all and you will look ridiculous. So despite being 100% water proof when you hike with a garbage bag on you end up just as wet, as the outside from the perspiration that is trapped inside.

Light weight vs 2 or 3 layer Gortex 

This again is really up to you and will depend on where and how you want to hike. Where I grew up a 3 layer coat is essential if you want it to last more that a few hikes. For travelling I prefer something more light weight. As it obviously is lighter to carry and packs away smaller.

At the moment I have the Patagonia Torrentshell with me in South America. I love it because it’s such a great all-rounder. It’s not the best in any category but light enough to carry everywhere with decent enough protection.

Hiking packing List –

Boots

Low top or High top? Leather or Lightweight? Trail Runner or Boots?

There are so many options when it comes to hiking shoes. It’s a little overwhelming when you first start out.

  • Trail Runners are a great comfortable lightweight option but they don’t offer any ankle support.
  • Leather Hiking Boots are the most durable and supportive. But they can take some time to wear in.
  • High Top Boots are similar to Leather boots but made from synthetic materials. They won’t take as long to wear in however they won’t be as durable. They also become less waterproof over time.
  • Lop Top Boots are similar to trail runners.
Once you know what type of shoe you are after. Go and try as many different brands and shoes of that type on. Go with whatever feels the most comfortable for you. Remember that your feet will swell during the day and with hot weather so make sure the boots are not too tight.

Hiking packing List –

Thermals / base layers

These are hands down the best way to keep warm. I always carry 1 set from camp. They really do make a big difference and are necessary if hiking in any cool or wet conditions. Merino wool is the best that you can get but they do cost a lot more. If cost is a concern polypropylene work just as well. They can be itchy and start to smell after a few days but will be a fraction of the price. Microfiber thermals are more comfortable but not quite as warm. Especially when they are wet but are a great compromise between wool and polypro. I get all of my thermals from Wilderness Wear and love them. They’re 100% Aussie too!

Hiking packing List –

Fleece jumper

I’ve had many different types of layering jumpers/ sweaters / jackets before.  Everything from merino wool, to fancy synthetic fill and softshell jackets. But I just can’t go past the stock standard polar fleece jumper. They are really warm, light weight and dry incredibly quickly. You can pick them up for next to nothing but if your after a good quality one I love my North Face Glacier 1/4 zip.

Hiking packing List –

Down Jacket

My life changed when I bought my first down jacket and I still love them to death. Look for the same things that you would with a down sleeping bag

Loft – This is the quality and type of the feathers used. Look for something above 600.

Fill – This is how the amount of feathers in the jacket are measured. Obviously, the better-quality the feathers the less fill required to reach the same warmth and less weight you have to carry. 

Synthetic

Is another option to look at here like with your sleeping bag.

I love my Patagonia Down Sweater Jacket . After 5 years of hard use I just replaced my old one with the exact same jacket. They also do synthetic jackets if you like the convenience of being able to throw it in the washing machine and not have to worry about it getting wet. 

No poles no worries with bamboo sticks

What to pack for an overnight hike

clothes continued

Hiking packing List –

tops

I always carry one long sleeved thermal top to wear at camp and depending on the length of the hike 1 or 2 others for the day.

A long sleeve shirt with a collar is great for sun protection. There are lots of quick drying polyester shirts on the market and these are probably the best choice. I’m not much of a fan of the feel of them though. I personally prefer a good quality ultra-light cotton shirt.

You can’t beat thermal tops for cool or hot climates with merino being the best choice. A short sleeve and long sleeve are great options to have. Have a look at the Wilderness Wear collection as they have lots of different weight (thickness) choices. I like the Light Merino 170 for t-shirts.

Hiking packing List –

Bottoms

I always have 1 pair of thermal bottoms plus on pair of pants for camp. What these are depends on the weather.

For the day I will have 1 pair of shorts or leggings for warm shorter hikes.

In colder weather I will wear leggings or trousers.

For hikes more than a few days in length I will carry a second pair.

I love to hike in shorts even in cold conditions. I also love hiking in tights but these aren’t good in the wet.

For a night, I have a few different options. Regular light weight hiking pants that can also be worn during the day when it’s warm and soft shell or fleece pants for the colder conditions.

Hiking packing List –

Hat, Beanie, gloves and Sunglasses

Full brim or a cap, its up to you but try and avoid cotton beanies by either taking a wool or fleece one. I carry both on every trip no matter the weather forecast as they take up no space and make a big difference when needed.

Hiking packing List –

Socks

I will take 2 pairs of socks on a hike up to 4 days and 3 on anything longer than that. I keep one pair dry for bed and have one dirty pair that I will wear everyday. If they get wet I just put them on again in the morning as it’s highly likely that they will get wet again. If you have a good quality pair of socks it’s not so bad. I love Wilderness Wear socks and couldn’t recommend getting a decent pair of socks enough. They are worth the investment.

Hiking packing List –

camp shoes

It doesn’t matter what they are just as long as they are lightweight and comfortable. Some people believe that you should be able to hike in your camp shoes should something happen to your boots. If you have a good pair of boots you shouldn’t have to worry about this.   

Hiking packing List –

gaiters

You don’t need gaiters for every hike. They are great protection against snake bites or stopping snow and mud from getting into your boots.

I don’t wear mine on 90% of my hikes but when I have they have been a life saver. I often still carry them when I know I won’t need them as they make a great seat if I don’t want to take my chair.

everything i take on my back

What to pack for an overnight hike

other things

What to pack for an overnight hike –

head torch

Torch strength or power is measured in Lumens. The higher the lumens the brighter the light will be. 100 lumens is great for around camp but if you want something more powerful for wildlife spotting or night hiking look for 300+.

Now you can get some really good rechargeable head torches. They are a great way to save on batteries. If you are looking at buying one just make sure that the batteries can be replaced with regular batteries in case it goes flat on a trip. I’ve had a LED H8R for years and find it compact but still bright.

What to pack for an overnight hike –

knife

I have a climbing flip knife and multi tool that I take on trips. If you only want to carry one, go with a simple multi tool. Ensure it has a good blade and keep it sharp.

What to pack for an overnight hike –

whistle

You never know when you could get yourself into trouble. Whistles are great for attracting attention or helping people to locate you. Some packs will come with these inbuilt into the chest strap so have a look there before you go buy one!   

Nz mountains
What to pack for an overnight hike –

first aid kit

I know they are often heavy but don’t skimp on your first aid supplies as they are essential. Read our First Aid Kit List to see what we put in ours. 

What to pack for an overnight hike –

fix it kit

This is a little dry bag I carry full of all of the random little things that come in super handy.

Some things that I have are spare pack buckles for both the chest and hip straps. Spare batteries, tent tape (its awesome super strong tape that is great for patching everything from tents to holes in down jackets), cable ties, spare hair ties, extra tent pegs, utility cord, tent pole sleeves (to repair broken tent poles), air mattress repair kit, duct tape, small sewing kit, safety pins and super glue.

I also have a deck of playing cards in with this kit.

Have a look at the WildEarth Repair Gear Page to get some more ideas.

What to pack for an overnight hike –

phone / communications

This depends on where you are going and how remote it will be. The most common options that people will carry while trekking are:

Satellite phone, UHF radio, Emergency Locator Beacon, Cell Phone and Spot Tracker. They all have their own pros and cons. If you wont be using it very often, you can hire these.

At the very least you should leave with people of your detailed route / itinerary, expected return date, obvious identifiable clothing or equipment. These include a trusted friend or family member who will notice if you don’t return on time. And any park rangers.

What to pack for an overnight hike –

map + compass

Nothing beats a topographical map. Make sure that is has enough detail for what you need it for. This is measured by the scale. Scale is the ratio between the distance on a map and the corresponding distance on the ground. On a 1:100000 scale map, 1cm on the map will equal 1 km on the ground.

I haven’t found many great map cases. So, now I just use a heavy duty ziplock bag that I recycled from a packet of tortilla wraps!

Maps.me is also a great app to have along with a map. Its an offline GPS maps system for your phone and has lots of trails marked on it. Its free for android and apple, just make sure you download the map for the area you will using it in before leaving. And remember that phones can always break or go flat.

A Compass is either set to the northern or southern hemisphere. If you are flying with them always put them in your carry on to avoid getting any bubbles in there. I prefer the simpler version with a good sized base plate.

What to pack for an overnight hike –

money + I.D

Just for emergency situations I take my driver’s licences and bank card. If overseas I will always take my travel insurance documents as well. 

What to pack for an overnight hike –

Trekking poles

They are great savior for your knees when carrying a heavy pack and doing lots of down hill hiking.

I like collapsible poles that I can store in my pack as I don’t use them very often.

What to pack for an overnight hike –

Waterproofing

Sea to summit dry bags are the stock standard here. They are great but can be expensive. To save the need to buy some reuse good quality food packaging that has a zip lock seal. I love the mission wrap ones. Put a little food absorption sachet to soak up any moisture that may get in.

What to pack for an overnight hike –

power bank or solar charger

For longer treks it’s great to have some kind of portable power supply that you can use to recharge your phone or camera.

What to pack for an overnight hike –

pillow

I never seem to have enough room for a travel pillow. But for some people it’s more of a priority.

If you don’t carry one stuff your sleeping bag’s cover full of clothes then put it inside of your fleece and into the hood of your sleeping bag.

What to pack for an overnight hike –

toiletries

I carry a toothbrush, toothpaste, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, roll on deodorant, lip balm and face moisturizer. For longer hikes I will also take a small canister of dry shampoo.

I also take a small flannel cloth to have a wash / bird bath with of a night before bed. You could take baby wipes instead but they create a lot of waste and are actually quite heavy.

For hygiene and prevention of UTI’s I know a lot of women who also carry a squirty wash bottle and / or a pee rag.  If you’re wandering what the heck a pee rag is don’t worry you’re not alone, we’ve all been there. Check out this link for more information.

Sanitary Items

For the disposal of used sanitary items I always carry a few things. The first is nappy bags, these are great, often biodegradable bags and the 1st place my used sanitary items go. The 2nd is a zip-lock bag or 2 with a couple of teaspoons of baking soda sitting in the bottom to hide any smells. The 3rd item I bring is either a brown paper bag or small pouch to keep everything hidden. Each sanitary item goes into its own nappy bag, then into the shared zip-lock and finally all hidden away in the pouch. Alternatively there are products like Diva Cups that you can use.

What to pack for an overnight hike –

trowel + Toilet Paper

Make sure that you are familiar with the 7 Leave No Trace Principles and always carry a trowel and toilet paper with you. And to avoid unnecessary toilet paper waste have a read about pee rags above.

IMG_20180831_213613_469

Planning an over night hike? Let us know where you are going and if there’s anything else you would take with you in the comments below.

Or read more about all of the adventures we used this list to pack for here.

Ruby & Josh

Two Lost Feet

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