Life is an adventure for those who dare to make it one. Reflecting on my childhood, I would never have thought that as an adult I would be fueled by wanderlust. Yet I am, and it is a trait I wish to pass onto my children. Ashton (17) is nearing the completion of his Presidents Bronze Award. To seal the deal, we are wrapping things up with a multi-day hike in the Drakensberg, South Africa. Today we are sharing the ultimate adventurers packing guide, because failing to prepare is preparing to fail.
PACKING THE RIGHT GEAR SHOULD NOT BE UNDERESTIMATED
Packing for a multi-day hike is somewhat overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time. There is nothing minimalist about packing for a multi-day hike and things add up quickly. I’m not just talking about the costs, but more so about the weight of your backpack. While there are many ways to work around the cost factor, the weight of your backpack is the difference between a pleasurable and not so pleasurable adventure.
Our Ultimate Adventurers Packing Guide
After much research, and I mean MUCH … we have put together a comprehensive packing guide that’s sure to make life a little easier when embarking on your next adventure. Please bear in mind that this is a generic guide and it’s always best to consult the website of the specific trail you will be embarking on.
TIPS & TECHNICUES TO PACK YOUR BACKPACK
1. Good quality backpack
Don’t skimp on a backpack only to have a strap break on day one or have stitching give out. Rather invest in a good quality backpack but make sure to try on the bags instore and avoid shopping online. You will also find that some brands sell backpacks suited for women specifically. I’ve had a Deuter 30 SL backpack for ages and I absolutely love it but it wasn’t big enough for a 4 day hike, so it was time for a bigger bag. This time around I opted for a Osprey 65L Ladies Backpack. Closed my eyes and bought the bag but Osprey comes with an All Mighty Guarantee so it was worth every cent. We bought Ash a 75 + 10L K-Way because apparently he is built differently.
Here is a rough guide as to the correct size for the duration of the hike you have planned:-
- 1 – 5 hours – <20L
- All day – 20-39L
- 1 – 3 days – 40 – 56L
- 3 – 5 days – 60 -80L
- +5 days – >80L
This is the toughest part but try not to overload your hiking backpack. This is a common mistake hikers make. A fit person’s pack should weigh 1/3 of their body weight and a less fit person (me) should keep it to a 1/4 of their body weight. It is however recommended for women’s packs to weigh preferably less than 12kg (including water bottles.)
They say you should line your pack with a waterproof lining but we used a bin bag instead. It was far cheaper. Plus I sealed all our items into zip lock bags so that I can separate wet items from dry items should the need arise.
I’m highly organized and systematic, also known as the Queen of Packing. Experience from my many travels around the world with just a carry-on, but I didn’t know hiking backpacks have a packing order.
- Pack the side pockets first
- Then pack your sleeping bag and lighter items at the bottom
- Next is heavier items so that it is close to your back
- Keep items like sunglasses, sunblock, raincoats and warm garments where they are easily accessible
5. Fit & Balance is key
Now that your back pack is sorted, there is one last thing to do. Ensure that your pack is well-balanced and positioned close to your back. Adjust all compression straps to hold the load tightly and prevent the backpack from swaying and/or swinging.
LET’S NOT FORGET THE GRUB
Looking for food to take on a multi-day hike was an absolute mission and after much research I was flabbergasted by the price of hydrated meals with some averaging from R200 per meal. Guys seriously, I can have a pretty decent steak for that price, so when I came across Mama Alles I was over the moon. They cater healthy, dehydrated meals for breakfast and main meals which were by far the most affordable. They even have a variety of hummus, harissa and beetroot pastes to help get your snack on. We did purchase our food from Mama Alles, however owner Catherine was generous enough to support our journey by sending over a few extra meals. Review on the meals coming after the hike but we did get stuck into the Harissa paste and loved it.
Here is a basic guide on hiking food ideas:-
- Cookies / biscuits
- Muesli Bars
- Pronutro, Oats So Easy or brekkie from Mama Alles
- Chocolate or sweets
- Peanuts and raisins (No peanuts for us as Ashton’s mentor is allergic to peanuts)
- Dried fruit / trail mix/ energy bars (but I prefer fresh fruit)
- The Mama Alles Hummus, Harissa and Beetroot pastes
- Biltong or salami sticks
- Tuna in packets (avoid tins as they are heavy and will add to the weight of your backpack)
- Provita / Wraps / Salticrax
- Fresh fruit
- Boiled eggs (we can’t seem to decide on this as yet)
- Main meals from Mama Alles
- Pasta meals in packets or pasta sauce
- For the first day it is a good idea to take prepared sandwiches or rolls for lunch and a frozen home cooked meal if possible, for supper.
- Tea / coffee / milo
- OBS or wine (because I’m that girl)
- Water purification tablets
i’M EXTRA, BUT YOU ALREADY KNOW THAT SO HERE’S WHAT WE ARE TAKING ALONG
The market is flooded with items for hikers to purchase and truth be told you definitely don’t need most of it. Let’s see if we have kept it basic or extra.
1. Overnight camping items
- Good quality backpack
- Hiking tent (happy to sleep on the floor but aint keen on waking up to any surprises)
- Sleeping bag
- Foam mat
- Waterproof matches / lighter
- Camping stove
- Hiking pot
- Hiking gas canister
- Dish / plate
- Spork (a spoon, fork, knife combo)
- Mug / Cup
- Hikers trowel (Still wrapping my head around pooping in the wild, because I truly am not sure how much of the wild I would like to conquer)
2. Personal Gear
Personal gear is a big thing for me, firstly because I’m fussy AF and secondly because I don’t compromise on 2 things. Firstly it’s the shoes that I wear and secondly a good pair of sunglasses. Hi-Tec has been incredibly amazing and is generously kitting us out with Hi-Tec hiking boots, socks and fleece tops. Expect a review after we put their gear through its paces this weekend. I’ve been wearing in my Hi-Tec Altitiude V hiking boots and I’m super impressed.
- Good quality hiking boots
- Hiking socks
- Inner socks
- Thermals to sleep in
- Sun hat
- Warm hat
- Hi-Tec polar fleece jacket
- Rainproof/windproof jacket
- 1 x Waterproof zip-off pants
- Dri-tec shirts
3. Toiletries, FIRST AId & EMERGENCIES
- Toilet paper
- Biodegradable wet-wipes
- Lip balm
- Insect repellent
- First aid kit
- Whistle (already built into our backpacks)
- Spare batteries
- Power bank
- Camera / GoPro
- Sunglasses / Specs
- Waterproof bags / Ziploc bags
- Headlamp or torch (Our headlamps turn into torches)
- Trekking poles
- Cellphones – Review of the Nokia X20 coming soon
- Fitbit fitness smart watches / trackers because it didn’t happen if you can’t show your Step Count and Active Zone Minutes
I think we have it all sorted, so roll on Friday. This mom and son team are ready to get our hike on, so make sure to hike with us by following the hashtag #ConquerTheWild. Make sure to drop us a comment and let us know your thoughts about adventuring and Ultimate Adventurers Packing Guide
A super special thank you to Fitbit South Africa, Hi-Tec, Mama Alles and Nokia South Africa for supporting our journey.
All the best to you and Ash for the hike! Thank you for this comprehensive packing guide, super helpful.
Yay I’m glad it’s helpful. Took us a while to get it right
Have fun on your hike! I can see you are very prepared. And this is an excellent guide.