Traveling is a learning process, and packing for it is no exception. We always want to make sure we have everything we need, but as we get more expertise with travel and packing, we notice we are bringing lot more than we need.
I’ve been backpacking throughout the world for almost ten years and understand the value of being a light traveller. This is especially true when hiking because you’re always carrying that load on your back.
Here is a list of hiking essentials that you should not pack on a trip to help you travel light.
- Valuables and Jewelry
These are useless items to bring on your trip, and you’ll probably only use them once or twice. It is not only needless, but it also puts you at risk of losing them.
If you can’t bear the thought of losing your pricey diamond ring/earring/necklace or your Rolex watch, you should leave them at home because flashy visitors are easy targets for thieves.
Consider this: losing them for a few weeks is preferable to losing them forever. Also, if you want to save money through bargaining, it’s best to play the role well by not wearing your valuables and dressing more like a local.
Finally, if you plan to wear jewelery to a formal function or a night out during your trip, bring only a cheap but nice-looking set that matches your attire but its not the hiking essential thing.
2. For Your Camera, Heavy Zoom Lenses
I’m a sucker for fantastic photography, but those zoom lenses are enormous and cumbersome.
Unless you’re a professional photographer, you’ll probably use your cellphone, point-and-shoot camera, or regular DSLR lens/camera (18-55mm, 24-70mm, or similar) most of the time for ease and quickness.
Even you’re going on a safari or photographing wildlife, those 200-300mm zoom lenses are unlikely to be vital (at least in my experience).
I suppose we can all get by without that single zoomed photo as its not a hiking essential.
3. Additional Toiletries
Pack only the minimal necessities and stock up as you travel. You don’t need to pack any more over-the-counter medicines or toiletries if you won’t be away from civilization for a lengthy amount of time. They’ll be available everywhere you go.
For the first part of your vacation, it’s a good idea to bring a “sampler” or travel size of the essential toiletries and medications. Then, as you travel, replenish your supplies.
It’s also a good idea to keep your beauty routine to the bare minimum when traveling. Keep in mind that the number of liquids we can bring in our carry-on luggage is limited.
4. Cotton Clothes in Abundance
What comes to mind when you think about cotton? Isn’t that fluffy stuff? Fluffy stuff, on the other hand, takes up more room and takes longer to dry when wet.
Hey, I’m not saying you shouldn’t pack cotton, but try to mix it up with a higher amount of Polyester or other synthetics; they take up less space and dry faster than cotton.
Instead of one big coat, layer with thinner, lighter clothes and a jacket/sweater when preparing for winter.
Furthermore, while thinking about layering, don’t take more clothing than you’ll need.
5. Several Pairs of Jeans
Continuing on from the preceding point, Jeans take up a lot of room, are heavy, and take an eternity to dry. However, I must acknowledge that at least one pair of jeans is required. They’ll keep you warm for days without washing, are sturdy, fashionable, and won’t make you look like a tourist.
6. Those Beautiful Shoes
You might want to bring a lovely pair of shoes to a party or to appear nice, but it’s not a good idea to bring your nicest pair of shoes simply for that occasion.
Instead, choose your everyday sneakers or casual shoes carefully. They can be stylish enough to go with your evening ensemble while yet being comfy enough to allow you to walk for hours.
Tropic Feel sneakers are my particular favourite since they are the best travel shoe. They’re incredibly light, composed of recyclable materials, vegan-friendly, and include quick-dry technology.
I’ve gone on hikes with them, crossed rivers with them, and casually strolled through hundreds of towns with them. They’re still in terrific shape and look great! They’re fantastic!
7. Boots for Hiking
Unless you’re going on a multi-day hike over tough terrain, hiking the Inca Trail, or anything comparable, hefty hiking boots aren’t on your packing list as its not in hiking essentials.
First and foremost, you will only use them for a single day. Second, they’re unlikely to fit in your backpack or take up so much room that you’ll have to hang them on the outside. Finally, a pair of running shoes provides the same level of comfort without taking up as much room.
Plus, you don’t wander about in the city with hiking boots.
8. Heavy Jackets in Multiples
Instead of packing that bulky jacket (unless it’ll be frigid where you’re going), experiment with layers. Even scorching deserts may get chilly at night, so having one or two light jackets on hand is usually a smart idea.
To keep a light pack while providing the appropriate thermal conditions for diverse temperature ranges, layering is essential. Combine the layers with a windbreaker/waterproof jacket if it’s too cold.
9. Towels with a lot of bulk
Fluffy towels are quite useful, but only at home. Carrying a full towel makes no sense because it takes up a lot of room in your backpack and takes an eternity to dry.
It’s not enjoyable to have a stinking, wet backpack!
Instead, use a tiny swimmers towel or a microfiber travel towel (both of which are quite absorbent). These take up less room and perform just as well as the normal ones.
This travel towel comes highly recommended. It’s inexpensive, comes in a variety of sizes and colours, and is extremely durable.
Books are inconvenient. Period. When you only need a single chapter or a few pages, why bring an entire guidebook? Instead, make copies of those pages and just bring the information you’re sure you’ll need.
The internet is more accessible than ever these days, so if you think you’ll need extra knowledge along the route, a quick Google search will suffice.
Lonely Planet, for example, sells its guidebook as.pdf downloads as well as single chapters. You may effortlessly save them to your iPhone or other mobile device and access them while on the go.
11. Several Books
Reading is an excellent way to pass the time on lengthy train rides or simply to have some “me” time. Yes, bring a book, but just one. When you’ve finished with it, swap it with other travellers who will gladly accept it.
Many hostels have modest libraries where you can swap books.
Alternatively, why not go to a local bookstore and find something new? First They Killed My Father, which I discovered on a street market in Cambodia, was one of my favourite books that I discovered on my travels.
A Kindle or other digital book reader is also a fantastic alternative if you’re a flashpacker.
12. A Pillowcase
I’ve taken my tiny travel pad with me to several places and never used it (or just once). Even while they aren’t particularly heavy, they do take up a lot of room.
Many airlines and railroads provide complimentary pillows for use during your flight. If that isn’t the case, construct a pillow out of your jacket and/or other clothing.
You can also use some of your clothes to make a pillow when camping. It’s not as soft as a fluffy cushion, but it’ll suffice.
13. Extra Devices
I recommend leaving all superfluous electronics at home unless you require them for work or other essentials (as I do as a travel blogger).
Each device comes with its own charger, cable, and other accessories, which can quickly fill up your backpack.
If possible, combine them into a single or a couple of universal chargers (most likely USB) to decrease clutter.
Electric toothbrushes, book lamps, portable DVD players, coffee makers, and other such items should be left at home.
14. When packing just one item, think “What if…” or “For this one time.”
If you’re packing something with the words “what if…” in it, it’s likely that it’s not necessary, that you’ll never use it, and that you’ll wind up carrying it the entire trip.
If you say “…only for this one occasion,” it’s unlikely that carrying it will be worthwhile. At the very least, try to purchase those items when you arrive at your location. It will most likely be less expensive in some places.
You’ll also be less inclined to waste money on rubbish that looked like a good idea before your trip if you buy stuff after you arrive.
Also, keeping your luggage light can save you money on checked baggage and overweight penalties when you check in for your journey.
15.What You Can Buy
Unless you’re travelling somewhere incredibly isolated, you’ll almost certainly find shaving soap, reusable water bottles, extra toiletries, and pretty much anything else, or a reasonable replica thereof.
Antibiotics (such as ciprofloxacin) can also be purchased without a prescription and at a far lower price than they are at home. Furthermore, purchasing items at your location is a wonderful method to practise your language skills while also getting to know the place.
Last but not least, Pack items that are relevant to your trip, but don’t bring anything you aren’t positive you’ll use. Also, because we all have different packing priorities, this list is not exhaustive.
Another list of what to bring and what not to take, for example, presents a similar notion but with different items.