The benefits of walking are well documented. And since the pandemic, more people have taken up walking as a pastime. The more places you walk the more you want to explore. This means you need to know how to pack a daypack for a walk in the hills
Long-distance walking along designated national trails is relatively safe. For the majority of day walks, all you need is the bare minimum such as water, food, a trail map, and depending on the time of year sunscreen and protective clothing.
However, when you head out into nature, you should be prepared for all eventualities. Off-load nature trails are more engaging, but also take more planning, And you need to take more stuff with you.
Check out the ramblers.org website for a checklist of recommended items.
The number of items and amount will be determined by the distance you are covering. No matter whether you’re heading to the hills for a single day or a multi-day hike, knowing how to pack your rucksack will make things easier.
For a one-day hike in the hills, we recommend carrying a backpack that can hold between 20 to 35 litres. Multi-day treks will require 60-75 litre rucksacks. You don’t want it to be too heavy though. And don’t forget a waterproof over to keep your contents dry.
Step-by-Step Guide to Packing A Daypack
The secret to packing a daypack for a walk in the hills is to weigh the backpack evenly. This can be more problematic if you’re planning to camp overnight and carrying a tent.
Ordinarily, the tent will be slid down one of the sides of your backpack. Position the poles towards the back of your bag so that the weight is closer to your body. This prevents the weight from pulling the bag away from you as you walk and puts less strain on your shoulders.
Because tent poles are typically bundled together in a canvas bag, there is consequently a fair amount of weight on one side. If there is more than one of you, share the poles between you. You should be able to counterbalance the weight by sliding litre bottles of water on the opposite side of your bag.
We recommend strapping the sleeping bag to the outside of your rucksack. Because sleeping bags are bulky, they can take up a lot of precious room in a 30-litre daypack.
But if you’re not planning to camp out overnight, packing your rucksack should be a lot easier. Follow the steps below.
To help distribute the weight, pack your heavier items at the bottom. Again towards the back. The only heavy items you will have is litre-bottles of water.
We also recommend packing a small water bottle in the side mesh pockets where it is close to hand. This means you don’t have to stop every 15-20 minutes to rummage around in your rucksack to retrieve water. You can keep topping it up when you take a planned break.
Pack bottles of water and other fluid containers such as lighter fluid in an upright position along the side of your backpack. This makes them easier to retrieve when you need them. If you lay them down on the bottom of your pack, you will have to unpack and repack everything.
Pack spare clothes and dry shoes at the bottom of your bag. You may not need these on a day trip but you may need to compensate for the weather or water obstacles. Some places are prone to unforeseen floods.
The caveat to this rule is to pack a spare pair of socks at the top or in a side pocket where you can access them easily. Ideally, you don’t want to be walking too far in wet socks because friction can cause sores and blisters.
In the centre of your day pack will be non-essential items such as blankets and cooking items. Whilst a nosh-up is not strictly required, there’s nothing better than a fry-up or hotpot when you’re high up in the hills overlooking the valleys and villages below.
Alternatively, take cold food like sandwiches, porkpies and salad that you can store in lightweight Tupperware boxes. And don’t forget a blanket or wet sheet to sit on. Waterproof plastics may not be as comfortable as a blanket but are a safer option during times of the year when the grass is more likely to be damp. Your hydration pack will also go in the centre.
At the top of the rucksack, put your snacks and other items you might want to get at quickly such as a rain mack, sunglasses or camera (presuming you have a DSLR rather than your mobile phone).
Ideally, your rucksack will have several outside pockets that are big enough to store some of the may-need items you want easy access to. If you can pack your camera and first aid kit in the side pockets, you may have more room for wrapped food at the top of your backpack.
Food wrapped on cling film or tin foil means you can avoid carrying bulky Tupperware. It depends on how much you want to protect your food and, of course, the type of food you take with you.
How you pack your food will be determined by whether or not you take a flask. If you’re dead stuck on taking a flask of tea, coffee or juice, you will want to store it towards the top of your rucksack so you can slide it in and out easily. If you have wrapped food which is loose, you won’t be able to slide your flask back in conveniently.
The alternative solution is to buy a small, individual flask that will slip into the mesh pockets on the side of your backpack. If you’re taking walking poles, they can also be strapped to the outside.