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Need the best hiking gear list? Adventure junkie Tammy Lowe shares her ultimate packing list for trekking. Do you have everything on her list? Get it now!
The Ultimate Packing List For Trekking
Written by: Tammy Lowe
This trekking packing list is for less technical hikes. Generally speaking I pack more or less the same type of equipment for every trek I go on. Whether it is hiking in the Himalayas, the British Lake District, or the Andes, there are certain basics that every trekker should have in their hiking gear list.
If your trek is more technical and at altitudes above 5500m, such as the Cotopaxi volcano in Ecuador or Huayna Potosi in Bolivia, you will though also need some specialist equipment, such as crampons, ropes or ice axes, as generally speaking only this equipment will enable you to traverse across the snowy and icy terrain.
The best way to dress for treks is to wear layers. The weather in the mountains is notoriously difficult to predict. One minute you are able to wear a T-Shirt as it is beautifully warm and sunny, and the next minute it is clouding over and a snowstorm is heading your way.
When planning your hiking gear list, keep in mind that it is crucial to be prepared for the changing weather in the mountains and it is best to pack around four different layers in your day pack.
As a base-layer I would recommend a high wicking material for your T-Shirts or leggings, such as merino wool, as it will wick the body moisture away from your body and your clothes, which means that even though you may be sweating your clothes won’t get wet. All my trekking tops are from Icebreaker. Their clothes will keep you warm when it is cold and cool when it is warm. They also look pretty, which is quite unusual for technical clothing.
TFG recommends: Icebreaker Long Sleeve Crewe Top
When it gets a bit chillier or you are resting it is good to have a fleece handy and you can also wear it at night when the temperature inevitably dips, sometimes significantly. I would also recommend adding proper trekking trousers to your hiking gear list as they have a lot of handy pockets for snacks etc, and more importantly they also tend to be wind-proof and dry very quickly. I have seen people trek in Jeans and they soon regretted their decision after they developed a nasty rash on their thighs after their jeans got wet.
Find out the top 13 fleece travel jackets the TFG readers recommend!
I always pack a wind and waterproof jacket and trousers to protect me from the elements. There is nothing more miserable than trekking in wet clothes because once you are wet you get cold and you are then at serious risk of developing hypothermia. For very high altitudes it is also essential to take a down jacket with you. When I did the Everest Base Camp trek I had to wear it in the evenings even at an altitude of just 2,500m as the temperature at night went well below freezing. If you feel the cold easily then you can also take some fleece or down trousers with you.
Your hiking boots are probably the single most important item to take with you. They can make or break your trek. If they are not comfortable or they are too big or too small you will be in hell and can get blisters or worse, lose your toenails.
Before adding any shoes to your hiking gear list, always try on different boots before you buy them. Once you have found a pair that fits well and are comfortable make sure you break them in properly by wearing them a few weeks in advance of your trek.
I prefer high boots as they obviously protect your ankles better. My boots are from Mountain Warehouse and I love them. To this day I have never had any blisters in those shoes and I have done a lot of trekking in my life. Here are a few ideas on the best vegan hiking boots for eco-friendly travelers.
TFG readers love these versatile trekking shoes.
When you wear a pair of trekking boots all day there is no better feeling than to finally take them off , so I recommend taking a pair of sandals or flip flops with you to wear in the evenings. Packing cubes make the perfect shoe bags to protect your luggage from your dirty sandals or flip flops.
To prevent your feet from getting wrinkly because of moisture just put some talcum powder on your feet to completely dry them – trust me, it’s a great feeling once your feet are fully talced up for the evening.
These are TFG’s favorite hybrid flip flops!
Invest in a few pairs of really good hiking socks if you can. They tend to have cushioned parts for the toe and heel area so will help prevent you from getting blisters. It is also advisable to get a high wicking material, such as merino wool again, to keep your feet dry. You can get socks with a different thickness depending on whether you are hiking in warmer or colder climates, although don’t forget your feet will tend to swell up the warmer they get.
TFG recommends: Goodhew Women’s socks
Other Trekking Clothes to Add to your Hiking Gear List:
Take a wide-brimmed sunhat that covers your neck and face well to prevent you from getting sunburn. I also always take a woolly hat for when it gets colder.
Take a cotton type scarf to protect your neck from the sun or to keep you warm when it gets chillier.
I always take a pair of lining gloves and a pair of windproof gloves. The lining gloves can also be worn by themselves when it is chilly, but not cold enough to wear the really warm wind-proof gloves.
Creating an interchangeable capsule wardrobe is the key to simplified packing.
It keeps your hands free for trekking poles, your camera or nightly toilet visits. From my experience, most mountain lodges in developing countries don’t have electricity at night so a headlamp like this one is always essential.
- Trekking poles
Some people don’t like them but I find them essential for uphill hiking as you have something to lean your tired body on, and more importantly for downhill hiking, as they will prevent your knees from getting battered. If you don’t want to buy them you are usually able to hire trekking poles in local outdoor shops.
After your boots your backpack may be the second most important item on your hiking gear list. Consider what kind of size you need (i.e. how long is the trek for and will you hire a porter?), and try on different backpacks to ensure comfort – your back and your shoulders will thank you for it. Also try and get a backpack with a rain cover included as it will prevent your gear in your backpack from getting wet when it rains. I love my Berghaus Capacitor 35 (similar item) backpack which has an integrated rain cover too.
For more tips, please read our step by step guide to choosing the best travel backpack.
- Sleeping bag
If you need to camp or even just stay in huts at very high altitude you will obviously need to take a sleeping bag. Different destinations or seasons will require different sleeping bags. When you are trekking during the European summer for example you probably only need a one to two-season sleeping bag.
When you are trekking at very high altitude (i.e. Mount Kilimanjaro or the Inca Trail) I would recommend a four-season sleeping bag filled with down feathers. They tend to be pricier and heavier, but they will keep you nice and warm even in the coldest conditions.
Again, most outdoor shops or tour agencies offer sleeping bag rentals if you don’t want to buy your own which helps eliminate this large item from your hiking gear list. If you are renting a sleeping bag it might also be nice to take a silk sleeping bag liner with you. It is more hygienic and also offers another layer to keep you warm. They are also handy for dirty hostel beds, so well worth investing in.
- Travel towel
Mountain huts will almost certainly not provide you with towels so if you can brave a cold shower (sadly they almost always are) then take a fast drying microfiber type travel towel with you.
- Water bottle or rehydration bladder
I personally prefer rehydration bladders that can be put in your backpack and feed the water to you through a hose, as opposed to water bottles. When I carry trekking poles or have my camera in my hands, I find it really difficult to grab a water bottle from my backpack. Camelbac has very good quality hydration bladders.
- Water purification
To avoid getting sick from contaminated water take some water purification tablets with you. Sometimes they make the water taste a bit funny, but you can easily counteract that by putting a neutralizing tablet in your water about 30 minutes later. There is also a handy tool called the Steripen, which debugs water with ultra violet light, but it is more expensive than tablets.
My blue eyes especially are very sensitive and UV light can cause permanent damage if you are not careful. The sun’s reflection off the snow can even cause blindness if you don’t protect your eyes with adequate sunglasses. Depending on the height of your trek you can buy different glasses with different categories which are always printed on the frame of the sunglasses. Categories 3-5 are good for bright sun at higher altitudes for example, whereas categories 1-2 can be used for sea-level conditions.
Sun cream and a lip balm with high SPF is really important to protect your face (especially your nose) from nasty sunburn. As the sun in the mountains is much stronger I would recommend to take a stronger SPF factor than you usually take.
From my experience, there is rarely any toilet paper in mountain huts and there are also usually not any proper toilets during a trek. Bring a roll of toilet paper with you and take the cardboard in the middle out to save space, alternatively check out these space saving Tissue on the go space saving rolls.
You may be miles away from the nearest doctor so consider packing some basics such as diarrhoea treatment, rehydration salts, painkillers, and throat lozenges. Band aids are also useful in case you have blisters or cut your skin.
It prevents you from becoming ill if there is no water around to wash your hands with.
I hate taking cold bucket showers, especially when it is cold outside. I much prefer having a quick wash with wet wipes as they do the job just as well for a few days.
Hiking can be exhausting for your body, especially at high altitudes, as you obviously burn a lot of calories. Snacks such as nuts, chocolate bars or biscuits are a good way to keep your sugar levels up and give you a much needed energy (and moral) boost.
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So there you have it gals. If you add these items to your hiking gear list you should be well equipped for your next trek.
Have I forgotten anything? And do my trekking essentials align with yours from your experience?
For more hiking gear ideas please read:
- What to Pack for a Trekking Holiday
- 9 Gift Ideas for Active Travelers
- Trekking Pants Go to Trial- Pack them or Forget Them?
- 10 Hostel Travel Essentials
- 5 Must Have Essentials for Adventure Travel
If you found this hiking gear list helpful, please share it with your friends on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Thanks for reading!
Author Bio: Tammy is a travel blogger and adventure junkie. She has endured the Everest Base Camp trek, abseiled down a skyscraper, cycled down the world’s most dangerous road, and trekked through the mosquito infested Amazon jungle. You can follow her adventures on her blog Tammy & Chris on the move or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.