Pack for an overnight hike

Doug Williams

Hiking is always a fun and thrilling activity that most of us enjoy and love doing. But the excitement is even greater when you explore some remote location over night. Although an overnight hike can be dangerous and unpredictable, it is also a lot of fun. You might think that it’s easy to hike during the night, but the fact is it’s not. Overnight hikes require a lot more preparation and commitment than a typical day hike. You need to prepare well, and be careful of what you pack in your backpack.

Here are some tips on how and what to pack for your adventurous overnight hike.

Good plan

The first and most important thing you need is the general plan of your trip. It would be foolhardy to embark on anything too far from home without a basic outline of your intentions. These also need to be communicated to someone reliable who is staying home. This is in the case of anything unexpected happening – this person will be in a position to alert rescuers if this is what is needed.

Basic equipment

An overnight hike is the perfect way to take a break from everyday city light pollution
An overnight hike is the perfect way to take a break from everyday city light pollution

Deciding on the contents of your backpack when you are embarking on your inaugural hike is a bit difficult. You will, of course, want to be prepared for any eventuality. However, you will certainly not need to include the kitchen sink, and remember, you will be carrying this bag all day. So here is a basic beginner’s guide.

  • Clothes

First, there is your underwear or what in outdoor parlance is known as the base layer. Top and bottom. This is particularly important in the case of winter excursions. On top of that is another layer, also for winter, an insulating layer of clothing, generally called the mid layer. Then, of course, there is the outer or shell layer, this being the waterproof and windproof jacket you wear on top. You can include clean underwear and an extra layer of base layer clothing in which to sleep.

  • Warmers

Added to this you must have gloves and a hat. Much of the body’s heat is lost through the head.

  • Sunglasses

Sunglasses are advisable when hiking in the snow as the reflection can be blinding. They’re also clearly a good idea if you are hiking in hot sunny weather.


Your tent needs to be light enough to carry but also large enough for comfort
Your tent needs to be light enough to carry but also large enough for comfort

You will be needing a tent and sleeping bag. If you have chosen the inflatable kind of sleeping pad, then you should pack a patch kit.


You will be taking food with you. There are a lot of options for a hike menu. Particularly if you are hiking in cold weather, you should consider a breakfast and dinner that will be cooked and warm to eat. Lunch can be a prepacked cold meal. Snacks to munch on during the day are recommended.


purify water in the woods
Remember that, in the wild, water should always be purified however clean it may look

Remember, all the drinking water you need has to be carried by you between refilling stations. These refilling opportunities need to be considered when estimating how much you need to carry. A method to filtering and/or purifying water should be packed.


You will need a dish to eat from. Dishes which double as cooking utensils can be used. Also, some cutlery to use to prepare your food and with which to eat. Look for camp specific eating tools, there are many available. A drinking cup for warm drinks. A camp stove and fuel to run it. You should take with you a sealable container. You may need a bear bagging bag or bear proof canister. For interest and variety perhaps pack some spices. Use paper envelopes for these. Condiments in small sachets from fast food outlets are easy to carry.


Take care of your skin in the sun
Take care of your skin in the sun

Some other items worth considering, some of this being weather-dependent, are bug repellent, sunscreen, small soap or hand sanitizer. Wet wipes are useful: take a pocket pack and include a small folding shovel for you know what. Other hygiene requirements need to be assessed by you before you leave.


If you know beforehand that there is cell phone coverage in the area, be sure to have a fully charged phone or this fact will be irrelevant. Pack a flashlight and perhaps extra batteries.

Emergency kit

A compact emergency kit including a whistle, compass, fire starter, water purifying tablets, some first aid items, a knife and a space blanket should be packed

Most of all, enjoy your first foray into the wilderness. It’ll be far less scary and much more rewarding than you could have imagined.

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fmssolution is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival