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With the help of its Mountain Guides partner, Quechua has drawn up a list of essential items for your backpack.
Water bottle, socks, windbreaker, torch... Still wondering what to pack in your hiking backpack?
Whether you are an experienced hiker or a beginner, it is essential to prepare your rucksack well before going on a hike. The contents of your rucksack can have a considerable impact on your comfort, safety and enjoyment of hiking. In this article, we advise you on what to pack in your hiking backpack for a day. Whether you're on a mountain trail or a forest one, this article provides you with the essentials to pack your hiking backpack with confidence.
Of course, you first need to know where you are going, for how long, how many people, and not forgetting the weather, which can sometimes offer you all four seasons in one trip.
Discover in this article our checklist of essentials not to forget!
For a day hike, we recommend you equip yourself with a small volume backpack (up to 20L) to keep it light.
However, if you’re heading off for several days or have to carry the belongings of your fellow walkers or kids, a 20 to 40L bag (see more) may be more suitable.
Are you undecided between a hiking bag and a trekking bag? The hiking backpack is intended for a day’s adventure while the trekking bag will be more suitable if you’re heading off for several days with a lot of equipment (sleeping bag, tent...).
Whatever your type of hike, we recommend that you at least wear a comfortable backpack, equipped with lots of pockets and a waterproof cover , for optimal comfort.
The ideal backpack for a hike should be well adjusted to your size. For better comfort, the bag should be adjusted at the shoulder straps and waist belt, if there is one. Also go for good back support, opting for a model with a tight, ventilated mesh in the back. Proper adjustment of the bag avoids breaking your back and makes the most of your hike.
Preparing the list of equipment properly means you can optimise the weight of the backpack and avoid sunburn on your face, frozen fingers or a runny nose... Among other things, to prepare for all four seasons in one day, we recommend :
- Clothing adapted to the weather, which can change quickly: a fleece, a waterproof windcheater (check out our Women's and Men's jackets), and possibly a spare t-shirt and Socks.
- A cap, hat or headband to avoid getting your hair in your mouth and protect yourself from sun or cold.
- A pair of gloves if you’re hiking at altitude or in cold weather
- Sunglasses suitable for the mountains: category 3-4 or SPF 50
- Possibly mosquito repellent if you’re near wet areas (swamps, lakes, rivers...)
- A pair of poles if you use them
- And a pack of tissues, or a small roll of toilet paper, can always come in handy
Review the three-layer technique here to always stay warm and dry in your hiking clothes:
When you set off for a day of hiking, it is really important to take enough food and drink with you to keep your energy levels up and to prevent fatigue. During a hike, you use up energy and lose fluids through sweating. Therefore, it is important to take snacks and water with you to keep your energy and fluids up and to stay healthy. Foods rich in complex carbohydrates, such as dried fruit, energy bars or sandwiches, can be easily carried in your backpack and can give you an energy boost. In terms of hydration, we recommend that you drink regularly throughout your hike, even if you do not necessarily feel thirsty. A general rule of thumb is to drink about half a litre of water every hour. In short, it is really important to eat and drink well while you are on a daytime hike to ensure your comfort, safety and overall enjoyment of your time spent outdoors.
- Fill water bottles with fresh water (1 to 2 litres of water per person depending on the time of year) before you set off.
- Plan a picnic and/ or a few cereal bars or dried fruit for your breaks or when pressing on.
- And possibly waterless soap or hydroalcoholic gel to wash your hands easily.
There are many reasons why it is important to pack safety equipment for your hikes. First of all, there are risks involved with hiking, such as falls, injuries, exhaustion, bad weather or even encounters with wild animals. Safety equipment can help to prevent or alleviate these risks.
Remember to save some space in your bag for the necessary safety equipment:
- A charged mobile phone and useful emergency numbers (in the mountains, dial 112 if necessary)
- A first-aid kit (dressing, disinfectant spray, compresses, aspirin...)
- A flashlight or headlamp
- A multifunctional camping knife
- A survival blanket
- A whistle
The hiking network isn’t always optimal, so make sure you can find where you are in all circumstances with:
- An IGN map of the location of your hike
- A compass and altimeter
Review your basic map and compass orientation before going to be sure you’re in the right place before setting off!
Hikers know this well: packing your backpack isn’t a simple task!
Once you have carefully selected the items to bring with you, you now need to decide on the best way to distribute these items.
When doing this, you have one priority: properly balancing the load between the front and rear and the left and right.
If the weight of the bag is on one side only, your body strains and wears itself out unnecessarily to compensate for this imbalance. You also increase the risk of a fall, when you walk up and downhill. It is just as important to have a compact load to avoid clicking and sudden tipping that could lead to a fall.
Here are some tips on how to best pack your backpack:
Put any heavy objects close to your back: The heaviest objects, such as food, water and cooking equipment, should be placed close to your back. This keeps the centre of gravity of the weight close to your body, which makes it easier to carry the weight.
Put lightweight objects at the top: Lightweight objects, such as spare clothing, first-aid kit and hiking accessories, can be placed at the top of your backpack. This keeps the weight close to your body and optimises space.
Pack your things so that they are easily accessible: Pack the things that you will need most often, such as energy bars and water, in the pockets or compartments of your backpack that are easily accessible.
Attach bulky items to the outside of your backpack: You can attach bulky items or anything that doesn’t fit in your backpack to the outside of your bag, like a tent or a sleeping mat. Make sure you attach these items securely so that you don’t lose them or injure yourself.
It is important to take the time to organise your backpack before setting off on a hike, to avoid having to reorganise it several times while you are out. Also, avoid filling your bag up with things that you don’t really need because that can make your hike more difficult and tiring.
Are you hiking in a group? Why not divide up the shared equipment between the members of the group? ;)
For more information on how to pack your bag, including how to distribute the weight of your backpack, read our article below:
This list of "basics" can of course be adapted according to the degree of comfort you’re looking for. It’s not exhaustive, so feel free to add other items to make the most of your day: camera, MP3, card games, guide to plants and animals... Enjoy your hike!