How to Pack a Backpack for Day Hiking

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If you plan on a single-day hiking trip, there are a few essentials you will need to bring along. In addition, you will likely carry a backpack for a day hiking trip, and how you carry it with you is just as important as what you take.

Moreover, how you pack your belongings in that backpack can make a difference in comfort. Today, we’ll discuss how to pack a backpack for day hiking, so it is as comfortable as possible.

Finding the Right Backpack

One of the most important things is the backpack itself. It all starts with purchasing the right backpack for your needs.

For a simple day hiking trip, a backpack that can hold between 20 and 30 liters should be more than enough. After all, you are only going backpacking for a single day, so a relatively small or medium-sized backpack should be all you need.

In addition, you need to consider the features the backpack has. For example, you want it to be made of durable materials that can hold much weight.

It should also have good organizational features—various zippered pockets to allow you to separate your belongings.

Moreover, look for comfort features. For example, you want a well-padded back with well-padded shoulder straps.

The backpack should have various support straps for your waist, sternum, and chest. If you find a backpack with these features and potentially more, you should be on the right track for being comfortable during a day of hiking.

How to Pack a Backpack for Day Hiking

Day Hiking Essentials

Before we talk about how to pack a backpack for day hiking, you should first know what you should take with you. As we’re not discussing spending the night outdoors, you won’t need sleeping gear. However, we have compiled a list of things you might want to bring along for a day hiking trip.

  • A spare pair of socks
  • Rain gear
  • A packed lunch
  • Extra water
  • Thermos of hot coffee
  • Walking poles
  • First aid kit
  • Spare change of clothes
  • Rain cover for your backpack
  • Knife or multitool
  • GPS
  • Map and compass
  • Camera
  • Sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses
  • Insect repellent
  • Small cooker

Two Methods of Packing

Now you know what backpack to choose for day hiking and what to bring along, so let’s discuss two methods to pack for day hiking. One of these methods focuses on maximum comfort, and the other on packing for ease of access.

1. Packing for Maximum Comfort

When you pack for maximum comfort, put your heaviest items as close to your back as possible. This will take much of the strain from your shoulders. The closer the heavy objects are to the center of your back, the better your center of gravity. It’s much better for your back if heavier items are as close to you as possible. For a simple day of hiking, we don’t expect anything you have with you will be overly heavy, but this holds true, nonetheless.

Then, work outwards from the heaviest items to the lightest objects. The lightest items should be on the top and outside of the backpack. This kind of weight distribution provides maximum comfort for a strenuous day of hiking.

2. Packing for Ease of Access

The other method concerns ease of access rather than comfort. Again, the focus is on putting the most essential items you need at the very top, so if you open your backpack, you can take them out immediately without digging for them.

Heavier items might be on top, but you don’t have to search long to find them.

Therefore, your GPS, first aid gear, food, and insect repellent should be close to the opening of the backpack. Spare clothing would be packed at the bottom, as you are not likely to urgently need them.

Tips on How to Pack a Backpack for Day Hiking

  • A good idea is to use a waterproof backpack liner, so it won’t seep through if anything spills inside your backpack. At the same time, if it rains, it will keep your belongings dry.
  • Before heading out hiking, list the most essential items you will need and check them off as you pack them.
  • Remember that your space will be limited, especially if you have a smaller backpack. Therefore, only bring the essentials.

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