How to Plan, Prepare and Pack for a Hike

by | Apr 28, 2022 | Camping, Live Work Play Travel, Luggage & Packing | 25 comments

Know how to plan, prepare and pack for a successful hike

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In my opinion, hiking is one of the best forms of exercise and therapy for my body and soul! I’ve been hiking for years from a few hours to a couple of days during my world travels. And I’ve learnt the hard way sometimes about my choices of hiking gear. In this post I’m sharing everything you need to know to plan, prepare, and pack for a hike to help you hit the trail running. If you’re like me and enjoy hiking and choose to make hiking part of your work and travel adventures, then read on. 

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Why Hike?


Hiking has a number of benefits. It is a great way to improve your:

  • Physical health – yes, hiking has been proven to help build your muscle strength and your cardiovascular system. 
  • Mental well-being – keeping active helps reduce stress and can help you manage anxiety and depression. Hiking also lets you burn off steam on your own if you’ve had a bad day!
  • Connection to the great outdoors – hiking is also a great way to connect with the great outdoors and enjoy some fabulous scenery at the same time. And enjoy that fresh air!


Why Prepare For Your Hike?


To some, hiking can be as simple as choosing a trail and start hiking. Well, for short hikes of an hour or two that might be ok, but there is a little more to it than that, particularly when the hike is longer and in extreme weather conditions. Let me share my info on how to plan and prepare for a hike and the hiking essentials you should take with you.


How to Plan a Hike


To ensure your hike goes smoothly, spend a little time preparing for your hike.


Choose Your Hike


The first thing to do is to choose your hike. Now there are many hikes out there ranging in different lengths, fitness levels and terrains. Only you know what you are capable of, so choose the hike that suits you. No point hiking Mount Fuji, in Japan, if you aren’t fit enough! And what about the length of the hike, do you just want to hike for a few hours, a whole day or longer. Once you have chosen your hike, you can begin to prepare.


Things to Consider About Your Chosen Hike


Hiking Essentials Include A Day Pack, Hat, Shoes, Sunscreen, Map And Appropriate Clothes.

Pack the Essentials for Your Hike


  • Do You Need a Permit for this Hike?

Some hikes may need a permit. Find out if your chosen hike needs one. There is nothing worse than turning up at the starting point only to find out you need a permit to get in!


  • How Long Will The Hike Take?

While planning your hike, find out details like the length of the hike and how long is suggested it will take. Depending on your own fitness the hike may or may not take longer. You will need to ensure you have the time to undertake the hike so you can appreciate it to its fullest. Hiking is not just about running to the top of the mountain for great views – you need to enjoy what is around you and this may take a little extra time.


  • Getting To The Trail and Parking

Include in the length of time for the hike the time to get there. How far away is the hike from where you are and will you be walking or driving there or will public transport drop you off at the starting point. Whichever way you choose to get there factor in this time, and the time to get home after the hike. Also consider times you may need to leave to get to the hike, particularly if you want to see a sunrise!


Preparing for Your Hike


Once you have chosen your hike and worked out the logistics, it is time to prepare yourself and your gear. Take some time, preferably the day before to do the following to prepare for your hike. You don’t want to leave preparations to the last minute because you just might find something has broken and needs repair or you may have run out of batteries! Preparation is key for a great hike.


  • Familiarise Yourself With Your Trail Map


Get to know the trail before you hike it. Either purchase a physical copy or download a copy of the map. Print it off if you want and study it. It will show you many things including the topography so you know where there are elevated areas, descents and challenging climbs. Also if there are any junctions on the trail you need to be aware of so you don’t take a wrong turn. Take note if there are any sources of water or food on or near the trail as this will determine on how much water and food you might need to take.


  • Water


Having enough water can be a critical part of your hike. A general rule is to drink 2 cups or .5 litres per hour per person while hiking. Without enough water you can become dehydrated which can lead to headaches, dizziness and possibly disorientation. You don’t want these things to happen as you won’t enjoy the hike plus you could have an accident. I would suggest you start hydrating yourself the night before you hike – not too much that you need the bathroom all night. I often take two collapsable water bottles with me on my hikes and sometimes a water filter in case I fill up my water bottle in a stream. Both my collapsable water bottle and water filter are super light making them easy to carry in my backpack.


Collapsable Water Bottles are lightweight and easy to carry.


For longer hikes a water filter will come in handy – particular drinking from streams.


  • Check the Weather


Before you begin to pack your daypack for your hike, check the weather as you may need to cancel the hike or adjust your gear. There’s nothing worse than hiking in adverse conditions, you need to think of your safety!


  • Share Your Plans With Someone


Before you leave on your hike, share your plans with someone. This could be a trusted friend, family member or the receptionist at your accommodation. You could even put it on your social media feed – but don’t forget to let people know when you have returned safely. 


What to Pack for a Hike


This is probably the most important part of your hike as the gear you don’t take can really interfere whether you have a good or bad hike. Here is my suggested packing list of items to pack for a hike and you will need to adjust the items and amounts depending on the length and type of hike you will be doing.


  • Hiking Day Pack


The first thing you need is to have an appropriate hiking day pack. It should be comfortable and fit you well. The last thing you need is an uncomfortable day pack that doesn’t fit you and annoys you all hike. Most daypacks arena the range of 20-30L and have enough room to store everything you will need for the hike. Check out these!


Take essentials with you for your hike in your day pack


Items to Pack


  • Water in water bottles and a water filter
  • Snacks (trail mix) and meals
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Lip Balm
  • Cell Phone and a solar powered Powerbank (read my post on how to choose the best Powerbank here)
  • Map unless you have downloaded one onto your phone
  • Torch if you are hiking in the dark – early morning to see a sunrise or late evening after sunset
  • Trekking Poles – not for everybody but they can be useful to take the pressure of your joints.
  • Toilet kit – if nature calls you will need some toilet paper or wipes stashed in a small plastic, sealable bag – and a small trowel to dig a hole.


  • Safety Supplies


It’s better to be safe than sorry.

  • Headlamp if hiking in the dark
  • First aid kit – just basic with band aids, antiseptic wipes, tweezers, pain relief, anti-itch cream, cream for inset bites, etc.
  • Gear repair kit – duct tape and ties and a pocket knife  will come in handy when making repairs on gear and equipment.
  • Waterproof matches or a light


  • Items to Pack for Overnight or Longer Hikes



READ MORE: Beginners Guide to Tent Camping


What to Wear on Your Hike


What you wear on your hike will depend on the time of year and weather conditions. Here are my basics that I wear hiking.


  • Basic Hiking Clothes


  • Shorts or lightweight hiking pants – TIP: if you will be scrambling over rocks and crawling along on your bottom, the older the clothes the better. I usually wear an old pair of leggings if I know I am doing this!
  • Quick drying shirt made of lightweight synthetic fabrics that will keep you cool.
  • Warm layer such as a fleece jumper.
  • Quick drying/breathable underwear.
  • Hiking socks made of merino wool for wicking sweat
  • Sturdy Hiking Boots or Shoes.


Hiking Pants that Convert to Shorts


Women’s Hiking Pants


Sturdy, comfortable Hiking Boots are a must.


Wool Wicking Hiking Sox


  • Extra Hiking Clothes Dependent on Weather and Season


  • Rain jacket and a rain cover for your backpack.
  • Insulated jacket – on very cold days pack an insulated jacket to keep you warm.
  • Extra socks in case your pair gets wet. Dry socks will help prevent blisters (ouch) or frostbite if hiking during winter.
  • Beanie
  • Gloves


What to Leave in your Car While You are Hiking


When you get back to your car after your hike have some fresh supplies waiting for you. Such as comfy shoes, extra socks, water and food and some wet wipes and a towel. Even a change of clothes.


Are You Ready to Plan, Prepare and Pack For Your Hike?


I hope you have found this guide helpful so you can plan, prepare and pack for your next hiking trip. If you have any other tips or hacks I could include in this post I would love to hear from you. Happy Hiking!


How To Prepare, Plan and Pack For a Hike PIN.

Thanks for sharing!

Useful Travel Resources for Your Next Adventure!


Accommodation: Where Will You Sleep Tonight? If you want a bed in a hostel dorm find a great deal with HostelWorld. I mostly stay in hotels now, is my favourite site for booking hotels from budget to ‘I feel like splurging’. For something completely different I house and pet sitting through Trusted Housesitters – this has saved me thousands on accommodation, no joke!

Flights: I always head to Skyscanner first to find a cheap and flexible flight.

Car Rental: When I need to rent a car I turn to RentalCars.

Train Travel: I love riding the train rails and get the best value from raileurope. And Japan has a great one too – JapanRail Pass.

Bus Travel: Check out Busbud for bus tickets.

Pre-organised Tours: I’ve been on a few in my time with Contiki being my first and favourite. if you are 18-35 years of age you should check them out.

Jump-the-queue entrance tickets: I don’t enjoy standing in long queues which is why I book my entrance tickets and day trips in advance. My favourite website to book them in advance is GetYourGuide.

Travel Insurance. There are a number of reasons why travel insurance is important and I never travel without having bought a policy as you never know when something might happen. SafetyWing is great digital nomads and long-term travellers and World Normads has policies for general and adventure travel.


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Hi. Sharyn here. Savvy Australian female with a passion for travel and working abroad. I’m on a mission to provide you with my best tips, tricks and hacks to work abroad and travel the world. If I can do it, so can you!  Read more.


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Hi, Sharyn here. I’m the face behind Live Work Play Travel. I’ve travelled all my life thanks to my dad who worked for an airline – thanks dad! I’ve been a travel writer/blogger and living a location independent lifestyle since 1993. My aim with Live Work Play Travel is to provide you with the info to start living, working and travelling around the world like I do. I currently live in Melbourne with my partner and 2 kids. 


  1. Bejal

    This is such a great comprehensive guide to hiking. I’ve not done so much hiking so this is super informative for me and definitely bookmarking for when I do get out and do some great hikes.


    Thank you for sharing this. Hiking is indeed therapeutic for the mind.

  3. KarlaTypes

    Thanks for all these great tips! I’m not much of a hiker but this is very useful!

    • Sharyn McCullum

      Sometimes you are hiking without realising it. You could just be walking to a ‘lookout’! Glad you like this tips.

  4. Alma

    Such a great guide to prepare and pack for a hike. Many important factors to consider.

  5. Katy

    What a great introductory guide to hiking. I agree that preparation is key to ensure a successful trip. Another good tip for beginners is to bring along a garbage bag to pack out all of your trash. It’s important to leave no trace in the outdoors when we leave (and that includes toilet paper!)

    • Sharyn McCullum

      Great tip. I will have to add that one because it is definitely important to leave no trace in the outdoors.

  6. Terri

    I love to hike but I have experienced several disasters with slipping and falls, blisters on feet, and hiking boots that hurt. As stated in your article, you need to be ready to be uncomfortable.

  7. Jeanine

    This is great information we hike often and take most things with us. I do like the have extra clothes waiting often we get back that’s something I sometimes forget. Love all the tips

  8. Fransic verso

    These are great tips, it’s been a while since we hiked and these are good reminders. Thank you for sharing!

    • Sharyn McCullum

      Glad you liked the tips. It’s good to remind yourself because it is quite easy to forget things if you don’t have a list.

  9. Katie

    A trail map is a must! I’m always shocked by how many people on the trail don’t have one. Great list

    • Sharyn McCullum

      Me too. To many people are reliant on their phone nowadays!

  10. Sarah

    To be honest, I’ve always been intimidated to go any significant hiking trip because I don’t know how to properly prepare. Thank you for the great advice!

    • Sharyn McCullum

      It can be intimidating but you have to start somewhere!

  11. Sarah

    Thank you for all of these great tips! Printing or downloading your map is SO important! We have been out way too many times and lost cell coverage. That is never fun!

    • Sharyn McCullum

      Glad you like this suggestion – nothing beats a good ol’ fashioned printed map! It’s a lost art don’t you think?

  12. ashley

    ‘What a great hiking guide! So many of the things listed or things I have had to learn the hard way. I especially love to have an extra pair of clothes in your car! Feels so good to change after a hike.
    Hiking is food for the soul, I am always so rejuvenated and rested (even if physically exhausted) after.

    • Sharyn McCullum

      Hiking can be very spiritual both for the mind and body. I’m glad you like it and that I am not the only one who takes extra clothes and leaves them in the car.

  13. Jill

    I never thought to pack chapstick or a powerbank when i’m just going for a day hike, but now that you’ve mentioned them I always want them when I hike! I’m definitely saving this as a checklist for next time 🙂 Thank you!

    • Sharyn McCullum

      When you hike a lot you get use to the things that you like and need. I’m glad you found some of my suggestions useful for your next hike.

  14. Valentina

    I love this post, it has literally everything I need to travel. Thank you very much for your great content.

  15. Anushka

    I love to hike, and sometimes for shorter trails I’ll just start walking without doing much planning. This is a great idea to still take a physical copy of the trail as well as ensuring I have enough items in my day pack even if it is just a shorter day hike.

    • Sharyn McCullum

      I’m really getting into hiking too which is why I wrote the post. Glad you liked it.


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