Hiking and camping: what to take on your backpacking trip


March 28, 2024


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Hiking & Camping Essantials

Going on an outdoor adventure requires a bit of planning, and the most important consideration always remains, “What should I take with me?” It’s easy to tip from taking all the essentials you need to face any eventuality, and packing so much that the weight of your backpack makes you feel as if it’s a strength training day at the gym. So, how can you strike the right balance? The minimalist approach has got you covered. Here’s how to ensure you have enough room to bring all your hiking and camping essentials with you on your backpacking trip without increasing the weight of your bag.

In this article, you will discover the basics of backpacking:

What is the Minimalist Approach?

In short, being a minimalist hiker or camper involves lightening your load before you even hit the trails. There are two ways to do this: bringing less gear, and reducing the weight of each item. This may require a fair amount of planning and research, so here are a few top tips to make your backpack feel lighter without sacrificing comfort. 

Reducing the Weight of Your Backpack

Reducing the Weight of Your Backpack

The following four items have the biggest impact on your gear’s total weight and as such, they should represent the bulk of your investment: 

  • Your tent;
  • Your sleeping bag;
  • Your sleeping pad;
  • Your backpack.

It’s true that opting for ultralight gear can hike up the price of your outdoor equipment, so consider shopping around or trying second-hand resale platforms such as reSAIL.

Camping tent

A multi-day hike is likely to require a camping tent. Whether you choose an ultralight, minimalist option or the kind of tent that can host an entire hiking party will depend on the type of trip you have planned. Bear in mind that if you are carrying your tent with you, you may want to opt for a model weighing no more than four kilograms. Some tents even utilize your trekking poles so you don’t have to carry tent poles with you!

For a list of the best backpacking tents, have a look at our blog article.

Sleeping pad

These days, there are plenty of light and compact sleeping pads. Look for a lightweight air pad that packs small, and choose a mummy or tapered shape if weight is a key consideration for your expedition. However, do not get tempted to skip the sleeping pad altogether just to save a few kilograms: this is an essential part of your sleep system.

Head to our blog to check out the best sleeping pads.

Sleeping bag

The eternal debate rages on: down or synthetics? If you intend on sleeping in a tent in the middle of the wilderness and need to lighten your load, you will need a warm but compressible sleeping bag. Down bags are excellent insulators that pack small, but they don’t perform well when wet, so ensure you can keep yours fully dry. Check the temperature rating to ensure your bag is suited to the weather conditions. 

Read about the best sleeping bags according to SAIL’s experts.


You will obviously need a backpack to carry all your gear. This could be a day pack for shorter hikes, or a larger backpack for longer, multi-day outings. Our top tip? Choose a smaller bag than you would normally use. Downsizing from a 75 L model to a 48 L one will really help you sort the essentials from the nice-to-haves.

Packing the Right Clothing

Now that you’ve reduced the weight of your main hiking and camping equipment, it’s time to make sure you have everything you need with you to stay safe and have fun. And nothing ruins an outing faster than being cold and wet! 

The amount of clothing you bring on your trip will depend on its duration, but the following should always be on your camping or hiking checklist: two pairs of socks, a warm jacket, gloves, a hat, and waterproof layers. Opt for merino wool clothes as these are moisture wicking, quick-drying, and odour resistant.

Choosing the Right Water System for Your Hike

Big plastic water bottles may be awesome on short hikes, but they do take a lot of room in your bag. Consider replacing them with a soft water bottle or a hydration pack. These are much lighter and pack extra small once empty. 

Also, never head into the wilderness without a way to treat water. Take some purification tablets with you or invest in an all-in-one water storage and filtration system such as those offered by the brand LifeStraw

Check out our tips on choosing the right water system for your hike in this article. 

The Camping Kitchen Equipment You’ll Need

camping kitchen

Hiking and camping provide many benefits, one of which is that there is very little washing up to do! Here, one pan will do. Cook in it, eat from it, rinse and repeat. Also bring a knife and a spork, as well as a camping stove. Camping stoves range from pocket options that fit in the palm of your hands to camping BBQs for the full outdoor cookout experience: just pick the one that fits your needs. 

And camping shouldn’t mean having to forego every little luxury, so do read our article on how to make the best coffee while camping.


Food is an obvious item to add to your checklist, but it’s also fairly vague. Here, our experts have a couple of tips: bring enough so that you won’t run out of energy during your outing, opt for freeze-dried or dehydrated food for a much lighter option, and take a little extra just in case. Once your main meal planning is done, do slip a few high-energy bars, nuts and seeds, or dried fruits in your pockets.

Safety Gear

Safety gear will be an important part of your camping and hiking equipment. Here are all the items you should consider taking with you to remain safe, protected and comfortable. 


Take a map and compass with you in addition to your GPS device or phone. While a paper map may seem antiquated, you will need a way to get back home that doesn’t involve batteries or electronics. 

First aid kit

Check that your first aid kit is big enough for the number of people in your hiking or camping party, and that you’ve restocked it and replaced any expired items. 

Repair kit and tools

Anything can happen while out hiking or camping, but the good news is that most of it can be fixed with the right tools! Always pack a multi-tool, duct tape, a knife, and scissors (often part of your first aid kit) and you should be able to repair anything that breaks or comes loose. 

Emergency shelter and fire starter

We’ve all done it: you’ve read the map wrong, taken a wrong turn and suddenly you’re facing several hours of extra walking just to get back to your car. In some cases, this could even mean spending an unplanned night under the stars. Put an emergency blanket in your backpack for this eventuality, as well as a tarp. It helps if those are brightly coloured as you may be more easily spotted should you become lost or be in need of assistance. Also add matches or a lighter to your kit.

Sun protection

Bring sunblock, sunglasses, a hat, and lip balm on all your hikes, whether you’re heading out in the middle of summer or in the dead of winter. Consider investing in some UV clothing as well for extra protection. 


Taking the wrong path could mean being out for longer than expected. Always carry a headlight and some extra batteries so you can find your way back. 

Communication device

Most of us take our phones with us as our main communication device, and on most hikes, this is a perfectly adequate plan. Just ensure you turn it off at the beginning of your outing to stop the battery from draining. Also take an emergency whistle with you, as their sound is much louder than the human voice, and therefore carries much further.

For longer hikes, or treks in remote areas, consider investing in a satellite communication device. These allow you to send messages even in areas without cell coverage.


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