This is what I would typically take for a short one or two-night trek in pleasant weather. Step one, lay out your necessities. Note: This pack does not including sleeping bags, tent, or stove, which my companion will carry.

Packing a Lightweight Backpack to go Hiking Overnight

By Amy Clausen

You have identified a one-night hike in the woods. Assuming you have chosen your sleeping bag, tent, and appropriate hiking boots – and yes, those choices can be torturous! – Your next step is to fill your pack with the necessities for a short trip in the wilderness. In addition to survival basics – like a map and compass, water, food, a place to cook it, and a flashlight – how do you know what you will and won’t need?

Step 1 Items to Take

This is what I would typically take for a short one or two-night trek in pleasant weather. Step one, lay out your necessities. Note: This pack does not including sleeping bags, tent, or stove, which my companion will carry.

A tried-and-true way to pack for any trip is to lay out your planned cargo, and then to imagine a series of scenarios while identifying and adding the missing pieces. This is the time to think of the absolute worst-case scenarios: gear that breaks, tents that leak, and weather that won’t quit. Those extra plastic bags and some duct tape seem more important now than they did before. Even on a short trip, it pays to be prepared, especially in the challenging terrain and weather of BC.

So before you pack for your next trip, consider the following:

Step 2 Pack

Step two, items fit snugly into re-sealable waterproof bags. The clothing is rolled.

Clothing: In most cases, BC hikers should be well equipped with removable layers for sun, wind and rain. Choose from synthetic fabrics and wool for the most durable and protective layers. These can be packed easily, stay warm when wet, and are very durable. Don’t forget high quality socks (both a liner pair and a warmer pair), and hats for both warmth and for sun protection. If you are likely to get wet, take extra precautions and keep extra clothes in dry bags.

First Aid: Remember there is no such thing as a “standard” first aid kit. No kit can predict what you might need on the trail better than you can, with some careful reflection on the terrain and the condition of the hikers. Don’t forget medications, antibiotic ointment, small bandages, insect repellent, sunscreen, and foot care to deal with blisters. Moleskin and small scissors are necessities for any kit and are frequently overlooked, much to the agony – and potential serious risk – of the hiker.

Waterproofing Step

Step three, items are placed into my bag with a white plastic liner for extra protection against rain. There is plenty of room remaining in this pack for food for two, a water bottle and purification system, and a compass and map. Make sure these stay dry too!

When you are satisfied that you have everything you will need, then choose an appropriate-sized pack in which to carry it.  Don’t forget to consider your waterproofing needs. If you live on the coast like me, lining your pack with a white garbage bag gives peace of mind, and makes finding your gear in the bottom so much easier! Bring extra re-sealable zipper storage bags to compartmentalize your gear and keep certain necessities dry (like your dry socks, matches, and a toilet paper roll!).

Finally, strap on your boots, hit the hiking trail, and always remember to tell a family member or friend your route and expected time of return!

Editors Note: In the Vancouver region VancouverTrails.com offers a great resource to locate hiking trails and share information through their forum with fellow hiking enthusiasts.

Published: March 17, 2015

About the Author

Amy Clausen is an avid camper and the blogger behind ladycamping.com. She is an arts and outdoor educator, and a UBC student. She hikes and kayaks with her family, and enjoys road trips to historic BC towns. She lives in beautiful Port Coquitlam with her partner and young child.

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