Packing for a multi-day, even for an overnight, hike can be quite stressful. This list aims to make this process as enjoyable as the journey will be. Below is how Mama Cat likes to pack, there are lots of links to her favourite things, so click away.
I like to think of packing in two categories, things you absolutely must take, and things that are nice to have (worth the extra weight). I often wish I had more salty snacks, just pack that snack, its worth the 100grams. It's also always nice to have element of home with you, whether its fairy lights, a nice pillow case, or a book, hiking is meant to be enjoyable and restorative, don't deprive yourself of a little luxury.
- Backpack: I got an Osprey Volt as a group gift for my birthday, it is AMAZING
- Sharp knife: I use a Swiss Army Knife.
- Water bottles: I usually only take about 1.5l-2l of capacity. After the Otter Trail (which promises drinking water and there isn’t any) I am going to invest in a 2l bottle to take with my usual 800ml + 600ml MiiR flask.
- Cash / credit card in a safe place: You never know!
- Trekking Poles: I never use them, I have very long limbs and they are very helpful on all the trails I have done.
- Sunglasses: an absolute must for me, mine are prescription.
- Head torch: don’t forget the spare batteries
- Battery pack & phone cable: I take lots of pics and videos, so I charge at least once.
- Reusable plastic bags, as I consume my Mama Alles meals I keep the bags for trash, to protect my valuables from water, and so on. I have a nice collection of these now which I keep reusing, no reason to buy zip locks if you are buying our product!
- Rope: a small piece of rope is always good to have, about 2-3m
- Dry Bag: I got a 70l Fjallraven Packbag, good to have as a liner in your bag, I can fit my whole backpack inside of this one which is super for river crossings.
- Toilet Paper: Have your own roll, even if it’s an overnight trail. You never know when you will need it.
- Sleeping Bag: I use a First Ascent Ice Breaker, I have been cold on too many hikes, so invested (with the help of my mum) and I will never look back!
- Pillow: I fold my clothes up and make a pillow, see the last item in the clothing list for a sheet.
- Mattress, Tent: Depends on where you are going!
- Stove: I recommend this one, while you get lighter weight ones, it’s best not to have a flimsy stove that may fall over, this one is safer.
- Pot / Pan: I am saving up for this one! (Primus). It is nice to have either a Jet Boil / another smaller pot to boil water for tea long the trail or have two things going at once, I make sure there are two stoves in my cooking group on a hike.
- Plate or bowl: I use a tupperware to keep my avo's and bananas un-squished,
I differentiate my clothes between dirty clothes (what I hike in) and clean clothes (what I wear after my shower / swim at the end of the day).
- Walking shoes: everyone has a pair that suits them, I take two pairs of barefoot shoes and I have never had blisters or issues. I have been walking in barefoot shoes for over 5 years. Merrell and Vivo are my shoes of choice.
- Wide brim hat: I am sure you have your preference, but mine is to not get burnt!
- 2 x t-shirts: 1 to hike in and one to sleep in / wear after my shower, I reuse these for the same purpose each day.
- 1 x long sleeve collared shirt
- 1 x down puffer jacket (thanks First Ascent!)
- 1 x track suit pants: I am still searching for the perfect pair.
- 1 x shorts: for hiking in
- 1 x long pants: for hiking in
- 2 x socks: one pair for hiking and one clean pair. If you are doing a hike that is known to be wet (rain / rivers) then take a few extra pairs. On the fish river my last clean pair was used as a severe wound dressing, so it’s useful to have an extra pair :)
- Underwear: as many pairs as days you are hiking, you can also reduce the number and wash daily if you have nice sunny weather
- Thermals: I have a merino long sleeve top and long pants
- Rain Jacket: waterproof spray is great!
- Beanie & gloves: I am not a beanie person, but I am a glove person. Gloves are great for the cold, but also if you are hiking in the rain and you need to grab onto things so you stay upright.
- Swimming costume / bathing suit / swimsuit: whatever you like to call it, you won’t regret taking it.
- Sports bra if you wear one
- Towel / Sarong / Cloth: I like to take 2 pieces, one that can be wet (after an evening shower) and one to sleep on, like a sheet.
- Waterproof pants: I have never owned a pair or worn a pair, but I have wished I have had a pair. Not sure how effective they are.
Map out your meals, and then plan from there. I like to keep all of my food in one tote bag so that everything stays together and its easy to repack your bag after lunch. You can check out a more comprehensive meal plan here:
A regular day for me looks like;
- Breakfast: Oats, nut butter, fresh fruit
- Lunch: Bread / Wraps / Crackers with Hummus, cherry tomatoes, avo, cucumber or Mama Alles meal if you have time and water to cook
- Dinner: Braai / Mama Alles meal
- Snacks: At least 3 x salty per day, and 1 x sweet.
- Salt & Pepper: Our meals do come with sachets, but for those South African salt addicts, and for your lunch / brekkie.
There are some things in here which are an absolute must, I say this because I have either hiked where we didn’t have them (where my socks became gauze and bandage) or where we did and we used them.
- Sterri strip
- Material plaster roll: roll is key!
- Burnshield: get the little packs as you seldom use those big ones.
Everything that I use is either organic, low chemical, few ingredients and everything is local! Organic and biodegradable products are very important for being in nature, I would say it’s as important as in your day to day life!
- Toothpaste & Toothbrush
- Sanitary wear just in case!
- Organic Baby Wipes: take a few out and pop them in a zip lock.
- Comb: my hair will be a birds nest if I don’t comb it!
- Mozzie repellent
- Lip Balm
- Book to read / kindle: I like to find a 100-150 page book so its nice and light.
- Fairy Lights / Candles: make sure you are not in a fire sensitive area if you take candles.
Things to keep in the car
- Clean set of clothing & comfy shoes
- Clean towel
- A snack