Pack for Hiking
The Right Pack
This is the fanny pack I often use for day hikes.
It's not very big (215 cu. in.) but can hold everything I need for the day. It's made by Outdoor Products and costs about $7.00
Outdoor Products makes inexpensive gear that works well for new hikers and backpackers. Both my sons have O.P. backpacks for Boy Scouts and have put many nights and miles on them.
Some people don't like the look of fanny packs but I think they're very useful. If I get tired of having it around my waist, I can sling it over one shoulder or the other.
If you get something larger, such as this knapsack, you have to have it on your shoulder, not just your waist. And, you tend to carry more because it has more room and people hate wasted space. Two or three people could put all their stuff in one hiking backpack and take turns carrying it, but I'd hate to be without the pack when someone takes a wrong turn - you should always have your basic essentials on your body.
You wouldn't carry a bowling ball in each hand when you go on a hike. It's just not comfortable. But, with a 16 lb. pack, that's exactly what you are hauling up hill and down all day. The amount of fun packed into a hike is inversely proportional to the amount of stuff packed into your bag. Except for specific cold weather situations, you should have no need to carry more than 10 pounds in your pack for an all-day hike. Carry less and enjoy more.
A great way to minimize your gear and make future hike preparation easier is to create a gear list. Gather all the stuff you are going to take, pack it, and just before you leave write down exactly everything that you have with you. After your hike is over, go over your list and see what you didn't use. Find things you can leave home next time. But, don't be dumb and choose raingear just because it didn't rain today.
For future hikes, just get out your list and gather what you need quickly.
When hiking with a partner or two, there are more opportunities for minimizing weight. You can buy larger containers of food so the packaging waste is less. You can take just one water filter, sunscreen, bug repellant, and other items that can be shared. You need to coordinate this before the hike.
The types of clothing you choose will greatly effect your weight. Light-weight synthetic fabrics do a specific job better than natural fiber at a reduced weight. Some articles of clothing specifically wick away sweat while providing insulating warmth. Others keep out rain but still allow perspiration to escape. Hiking clothes come in so many colors, styles, and brands, its almost comical. Spending a couple hours at an outdoors store should sufficiently overwhelm you and possibly drain your wallet.
Check Your Gear
Make sure your batteries are fresh.
Clean your water bottle.
Test the belts and buckles on your hiking pack.
Sharpen your knife.
Go through your first aid kit.
Basically, check out everything you are taking with you to make sure it will do its job. Finding out that last year's boots are moldy or don't fit any longer is a bad thing the day you are to leave for a hike.
Hiking Dude's Tips
- Always bring water, even on cold days, cloudy days, or short hikes
- A cellphone can be a lifesaver. Just don't freak out when it's ruined from mud or rain or a fall. Wrap it in paper towel and put inside two zip-loc baggies for extra protection.
- Carry a couple extra gallon-size zip-loc baggies. They have 101 uses and weigh nothing and they take very little room in your hiking backpack.