My packing list
People sometimes ask me what they should pack for a trekking trip. Relevant question indeed, but it’s too inconvenient to reply everyone in detail. So here is the answer - my packing list for multiday treks in the Caucasus.
But just to make it clear - this is not some "ultimate" list, suitable for everybody. It’s just a list of things I use and therefore contains way too many CZ/SK brands. Also, since it´s already quite long, it contains only gear. In a few weeks, I will write another post about trekking food.
Just keep in mind that I am no “packing guru” who follows latest trends and counts every gram. I hate shopping so I do it only when I absolutely have to (the older piece breaks down). And since I prefer durable gear, that doesn´t happen too often. So feel free to get inspired but keep in mind that what works for me doesn´t have to suit you.
Packing and organization
BackpackWhen it comes to backpacks, there is a little place for compromise. Because as my grandma says, “cheapskate pays twice”. And you really don´t want to end up with a torn strap in the middle of the week-long trek.
For the last 8 years, I´ve been using Treksport Tatran (capacity 70 liters) made by famous, but the already defunct local company (15-20 years ago, Slovak and Czech travelers could have been easily distinguished by their Treksport backpacks). It misses some modern tweaks but is almost indestructible. Of course, it can´t be bought anymore. If I had to buy a backpack today, I would probably go for something like Deuter Aircontact or Osprey Aether.
DaypackMany modern backpacks already contain built-in, removable daypack. If your backpack lacks it, you will need also a daypack - it´s indispensable for shorter hikes or strolls. Quality here doesn´t matter as much, it should be just light and compressible - I have some 5 EUR pack from Karrimor. If you want something better, I recommend Ultrasil Daypack.
In case of emergency, you can also create a daypack from the compression sack for your sleeping bag. You just need to readjust straps.
Re-sealable, waterproof packsGreat for storing things one doesn’t need in the mountains (passport, smartphone), some kinds of food (I mix my own muesli) or various small items you want to keep together. I use transparent packs sealable by a zip - bought them at the DM Drogeriemarkt.
Money beltUseless in mountains but still recommended as you will spend at least some time in the cities.
Trekking bootsTogether with a backpack, the most important part of your equipment. I have Hanwag Alaska GTX, the most expensive shoes I ever had, but really comfortable and made from high-quality materials. Even after 6 years, they look pretty good. A few months ago, I had them resoled and hope they will last a few more years.
Hiking sandalsHiking sandals are really useful in the mornings and evenings so your feet can get rest from the heavy boots. We also use them when fording rivers - it´s more comfortable and safe than crossing barefoot.
For the last 7 years, I´ve been wearing Teva Terra Fi 3 hiking sandals (I mean, for hiking :)). And I must admit that they are extremely durable and provide great value for money.
JacketI use Tilak Latok. It´s the versatile softshell jacket with a removable hood, made by premium Czech brand. I probably wouldn´t buy it for the full price, but I got a chance to get used one cheaply so I went for it. It´s quite warm so even on cold days, I can have only merino shirt under it and still feel comfortable. It can withstand the “average rain”, but during a heavy shower, it will get wet pretty soon. Still, I really like it - it´s well-made and even after 6 years it looks like new.
Or course, this is not the only approach. Instead of one warmer jacket, many people go for the combination of the light waterproof jacket (rain protection) and a fleece/Polartec hoodie (warmth).
Hiking pantsHiking pants are nowadays made mostly from some kind of a nylon blend - light and quick-drying. This is a piece of clothing where you can save some money if you are on a low budget as unlike boots and backpack, quality is not so critical.
Currently, I have DirectAlpine Borneo Zip-Off pants. They can be shortened to the 3/4 of the usual length and I wear them like this 95% of the time.
ShortsApart from the hiking trousers, I have also one ordinary cargo shorts (I know they are outfashioned, I don’t care). I use them to move around in the civilization (airport, cities and so on).
Softshell vestOn days which are neither warm or cold, I wear this vest on my merino shirt. It protects me from the wind and keeps my torso warm which is all I need - my limbs are not susceptible to cold. And if possible, I prefer hiking with uncovered arms.
Right now I have Mammut Ultimate SO Vest - bloody expensive, but I got a great discont and my preferred and much cheaper Husky Hax wasn’t then available. But, overall, this piece of clothing doesn´t have t cost a fortune.
Undewear - trunks (4x)I usually pack four pieces. And once in a few days wash them in the morning and let them dry during the day on the top of my backpack.
Merino T-shirt (3x)As a base layer, I use merino shirts. I won´t elaborate why is merino such a great material, it´s explained for example here. Of the three shirts I have, two are for hiking and one is for sleeping.
As for the brands, right now I have one Icebreaker Oasis shirt - great, but pricey. Remaining two shirts are from Slovak company Froggywear. I´ve been using them only shortly, but they are really good and cost a fraction of the original Icebreaker.
Normal T-shirtJust an ordinary shirt, used in same situations as cargo shorts - for moving around the cities.
Long-sleeve shirtIt’s important to have also one long-sleeve shirt, which can be used as a base layer on colder days. As I don’t pack a hoodie, I use slightly warmed Wedze 2Warm shirt from Decathlon.
Socks (3x)Again, I prefer hiking socks made of merino wool - or, to be more specific, of a blend of merino wool and synthetics (for elasticity and faster drying). As I rarely hike in winter, I prefer models with light or medium cushioning.
Three pairs are usually enough even for longer treks. Right now, I have one pair of Icebreaker’s Hike & Light Crew socks and two pairs of Northman’s Trekking Light Merino Crew.
LeggingsGreat on chilly mornings and evenings. Since I rarely wear them during the whole day, I don’t need really top-notch,100% merino stuff. So I went for much cheaper, but still good Quechua leggings from Decathlon.
BuffOn colder days, I use it to protect my neck. Not sure about the brand, though (it’s not the original Buff).
Beanie capWorn on colder and windy days. I have DirectAlpine Vasa cap and really like it.
Hiking hatApart from the cap, I have also a hiking hat to protects me during sunny days - namely Karrimor Bucket Hat.
Rain ponchoDuring longer rains, even waterproof jacket starts leaking - especially in the shoulders area which is under much higher pressure from backpack straps. Therefore, I carry a rain poncho and put it on when some serious rain starts - it’s great also when you have nowhere to hide and want to wait till the rain ends. Luckily, I don’t have to use it very often but when I do, I am very happy that I have it.
I use Jurek Trio UL - quite expensive, but reliable and weights only 350 grams.
Swimming shortsUsually, use them for sleeping but they occasionally also come handy when I want to swim/bath and there are strangers around.
Camping & sleeping
TentFor the last 6 years, I´ve been using 2-person Alaska tent manufactured by Rock Empire company (of course, I always share it with someone). For a while, it’s been no. 1 item on my “to be replaced” list, especially since it’s quite heavy (2,9kg).
On the other hand, it’s easy to build it and pack it and the material is surprisingly durable. Simply said, I would like to buy something lighter, but this tent has yet to give me a strong reason to replace it.
Sleeping bagI prefer sleeping bags with down insulation as, compared to synthetics, it offers much better “warmth to weight” ratio and compressibility. On the other hand, this material loses its properties when it gets wet and takes more time to dry.
Right now, I use Rimo 600 sleeping pad made by Sir Joseph company, well-known for their high-quality gear. Also, I like the name :P
Sleeping padI use inflatable Trail Scout pad by Therm-a-rest. It’s light, comfortable and can be neatly folded and rolled into the small cylinder. On the other hand, as with all inflatable pads, you must pay more attention to where you put it, you don’t want to pierce your 50EUR pad on a first trip.
CookwareThere are several materials to pick from. A few years ago, I moved from stainless steel to hard-anodized aluminum as it’s lighter and distributes heat more evenly. The most expensive sets are made of titanium, but I haven’t tried them yet.
Right now, I have several pieces from the Pinguin Quadri set. But if I went shopping now, I would buy Pinguin Solo as it’s designed to fit in also a gas canister and stove.
Gas canisterUsually you have to buy these in Georgia, as you can’t bring gas canisters onto the plane. So you can’t be too picky and buy what’s available. Of course, no-name canisters are cheaper and last shorter, even when the weight is the same.
How much gas will you need? As a rule of thumb, the average hiker “consumes” about 30 grams of gas per day - that’s enough to prepare one hot meal and several cups of tea. So plan accordingly.
Gas stove- MSR Pocket Rocket 2
Tinderbox- Pinguin Firestarter Box
Spoon (2x)- Light my Fire Spork + one solid metal spoon
Camelbak- Deuter Streamer, capacity 3 liters
Water purification- Micropur Forte
Spice Shaker- Light My Fire Salt&Pepper Plus
Tin mug, Dish sponge, Box of Matches
GPS deviceI use Garmin Etrex Legend. It´s a pretty old device, but as long as it works, I feel no need to exchange it for a newer model.
CameraPanasonic Lumix DMC-TZ70. Handy superzoom camera that I can carry on my belt. I am not an avid photographer so don´t need anything bigger.
Camera pouchNational Geographic Medium Pouch. TZ70 is slightly larger than my older Canon Powershot camera and didn´t fit into my old pouch. Luckily, I stumbled upon this one. It has a nice, rugged look and more padding than the usual small camera pouch.
Smartphone- I shut it down once I get into the mountains
Spare camera battery(DMW-BCM13E)- as one is not enough for 1 week of trekking
Spare batteries- AA and AAA batteries for the headlamp and Garmin device.
Headlamp- Black Diamond Spot Headlamp
Charging cables for the camera and smartphone.
Toothbrush, toothpaste, interdental brushes
Toilet paper- reasonable amount, not the whole roll :)
Pack of tissues
These items are not needed for everybody - but at least somebody in your hiking group should have them. You won´t need most of them regularly, but once in a while, you can save the day.
Sewing kityou will truly appreciate this one only after your trousers get ripped around the butt on the first day of your trek. Map & compass - at least someone should have a clue where you are actually going.
Roperecommended for skilled groups who plan to stray away from well-established hiking trails. Priceless during dangerous river crossings or in steep, semi-climbing terrain.
GuidebookIt's good to hevae one in a group. Even if you have planned everything in advance, there is a chance that you will at some unexpected place and such cases, guidebook is a great, compact source of the information. The most popular guidebook were published by Bradt and LonelyPlanet.
Map & compassAt least someone should have a clue where you are actually going.
WD40 duct tapeUniversal fixing tool. There are so many things in the world that can be fixed with the duct tape!
First aid kit
How to build your first aid kit? That could be a topic for a separate article, so to make it short, I will just list of hazards and corresponding items in your first aid kit. Also, this is technically also "common stuff" - one in a group is enough
Skin wounds- antiseptic towels or water syringe (to clean the wound), butterfly bandage (for smaller cuts), sterile gauze pad and bandages (both cotton and elastic) for larger wounds, latex gloves (when things get bloody).
Blisters- leukotape both for prevention and treatment
Diarrhea- Imodium or something similar
Cold, flu- Theraflu or something similar
Various pain(head, teeth) - painkillers
Trekking polesFizan Compact. Some of the lightest trekking poles on the market, one pole weight only 173 grams. Can´t comment on the durability but Fizan is a reputable company so I hope they know what they´re doing.
Pocket knifeVictorinox Camper. I used each of its features at least once.
SunglassesI use Slovak-made Optimal 706L Lux so that´s not too relevant for you. Pick your favorite brand, just keep in mind that unlike fashionable sunglasses, sport sunglasses should protect the eye from all directions.
Journal with a pen
Disclaimer: This article contains numerous links. Pointing to products. However, none of them is an affiliate link - that means I won't get any money if you click on it and buy something. Not that I wouldn't like to, but right now I don't have the nerves to set it up. Maybe someday... At least you can be sure that I promote these products because I use them :)