My trekking packing list


People sometimes ask me what do I pack for my trekking trips. Relevant question indeed, but it's not too convenient to reply everyone in detail. So here is the answer - my packing list for multiday camping treks (not only) in the Caucasus.
Just to make it clear - I won't sell this as some "ultimate trekking gear backpacking list", suitable for everybody (because people differ and mountains differ, too) - this is just a checklist of camping stuff which works for me. Since this post is already quite long, it contains only not-edible parts - the rest is covered in this post about the trekking food.
I also have to admit that I am no packing guru who follows latest trends and counts every gram. I hate shopping and do it only when I absolutely have to (the older piece breaks down). And since I prefer durable gear, that doesn´t happen that often. So feel free to get inspired but keep in mind that what works for me doesn´t have to suit you.

Ushguli

Packing and organization

Treksport Tatran

Trekking backpack

When it comes to backpacks, there is a little space for compromises. Because as my grandma says, "cheapskate pays twice". And you really don´t want to end up with a torn shoulder strap in the middle of the week-long trek.
Backpacks some in various sizes and capacities, each fitting a different purpose. Your pack should be neither too small or too large (ba dum tsss, what a surprise!) - you should be able to fit everything inside without leaving too much extra space. Extra space means that the backpack is too big and therefore too heavy - could make quite a difference since the backpack is one of the heaviest parts of your gear. Since my trekking trips often last more than a week, I have a backpack with the capacity of 70 litres. It´s quite a lot and I could save space if I attached some stuff from the outside of the pack, but I don´t want to feel like a walking Christmas tree.
And the brand? For the last 8 years, I´ve been using Treksport Tatran 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. Also, it has a built-in raincover - if your backpack doesn´t, you will have to buy it extra.
Of course, it can´t be bought anymore. If I had to buy a backpack today, I would probably go for some lighter model such as Deuter Aircontact or Osprey Aether.

Daypack

Many 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. 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.

Ultrasil Daypack

Re-sealable, waterproof packs

Great 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 belt

Useless in mountains but still recommended to have as you will spend at least some time in the cities. I am using a money belt from Raytix - not sure if there is some difference between individual brands but this one has served me well so far.


Footwear

Trekking boots

Together with a backpack, the most important part of your equipment. For trekking with a heavy backpack, I still use high leather boots because of the ankle support but if you do sports, you should be fine even with a lower and lighter boots. As for the specific model, I have Hanwag Alaska. These are the most expensive shoes I ever had, but really comfortable and made from high-quality materials. Even after 6 years, they look pretty good. Last year, I had them resoled and hope they will last a few more years.

Hanwag Alaska GTX

Hiking sandals

Hiking sandals are really useful in the evening 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 Fi3 hiking sandals. And I must admit that they were extremely durable, comfortable and provided great value for money. Recently, I finally exchanged them for newer model and hope these will be at least half as durable as the old ones.

Teva Terra Fi4 sandals

Clothing

Hiking jacket

From 2018, I use as a hardshell Forclaz MH500 hiking jacket from Decathlon. I needed a new jacket fast and wasn't ready to dish out the fortune for it so decided to give this one a try. So far, I am quite satisfied, tho it of course doesn't withstand heavy rain as well as jackets made by the more expensive brands.

Tilak Latok

Hiking pants

Hiking 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 Columbia Silver Ridge convertible pants. They can be shortened to the "above the knees" length and I wear them like this most of the time.

Short hiking pants

I have also another short hiking pants as a backup if the other ones get torn or extremely dirty. Again, these are light and fast-drying. I got mine at Decathlon.

Polartec jacket

My new favorite piece of clothing is the Sportiva Voyager polartec jacket. What I like the most is that while it's very light (only 350g), it also does a great job at keeping me warm. I use it as a middle layer on the cold days and also as a top layer during chilly mornings and evenings.

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 in many blogs. 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 good enough and cost a fraction of the price of the original Icebreaker.

Ordinary T-shirt

Just an ordinary shirt, used for moving around the cities or as a backup if everything else gets wet.

Long-sleeve shirt

It’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)

My hiking socks are made of merino wool - or, to be more specific, of a blend of merino wool and synthetics (for elasticity and faster drying). They are comfortable, keep my feet warm and dry and don't stink even after several days of trekking. As I rarely hike in winter, I prefer models with light or medium cushioning.
Three pairs are enough even for longer treks. Right now, I have two pairs of Icebreaker’s Hike & Light Crew socks and one pair of Northman’s Trekking Light Merino Crew.

Leggings

Great 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.

Buff

I have several neckwears, but lately use the original merino Buff which I got as a present from my dear wife. It's great - I wear it on the neck on a chilly days and also on the head instead of a cap.

Beanie cap

For colder and windy days, I carry one light polartec beanie. Sometimes, when it's really cold, I put it on even during the night.

Hiking hat

Apart from the cap, I have also a hiking hat to protects me during sunny days. The brand or quality doesn't really matter that much as long as it fits, covers the head well and you like what you see in the mirror :).

Rain poncho

During 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.

Swimming shorts

I use them mostly for sleeping but they occasionally also come handy for trekking on extremely hot days or when I want to bath and there are strangers around.


Camping in Arkhoti valley

Camping & sleeping

Backpacking tent

Last year, I finally ditched my ancient Rock Empire Alaska tent and started looking for something new. In the end, I picked the proved classic MSR Hubba Bubba NX-2 - the main reason are that it is really light (1,7 kg is great for a 2-person tent), easy to build and yet pretty durable (at least based on the reviews, I don't own it long enough to confirm). Still, so far it looks great and I hope it will serve me many more years.

Sleeping bag

I 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. And, of course, it's more expensive.
Right now, I use Rimo 600 sleeping pad made by Czech company Sir Joseph, well-known for their high-quality gear. Also, won't deny it, I like their name :P

Sleeping pad

I use inflatable Trail Scout pad by Therm-a-rest. It’s light, comfortable and can be neatly folded and rolled into the small cylinder which fits very well onto my backpack. 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 50 EUR pad on a first trip. And I have to laugh when I read about their "life-long warranty". These are good pads (and I am not the most careful owner), but 3 years are the most I was able to get out of them.

Ushguli

Inflatable sleeping pad fits very well at the top of my backpack


Cooking

Cookware

There 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 canister

Usually 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.

Camelbak

I really like camelbaks since I can drink anytime you want without the need to stop and put down my backpack. The only con is that I am often not sure how much water is still left inside so I rather carry also a small 0,5 l bottle as a backup.
I currently own Deuter Streamer and it's the best camelbak I had so far. What I like the most is the material, it's some sort of smooth rubber which looks clean and sterile even after several years of usage. Another nice feature is the full-width top opening so the bladder can be cleaned much easier than the models with a lid.

Gas stove
- MSR Pocket Rocket, small and handy. Just be careful when you cook something, because of the compact size, it doesn't take much effort to capsize it.
Tinderbox
- tinderbox is a reliable (and cool!) way to light your gas stove. It can't break or get wet, simply a small, handy and very reliable gadget. Since I have it, I never used matches for the task. The only downside is that it's good only for lighting of gas so if if you want to make a campfire, you will need those matches, after all.
Spoon
- Light my Fire Spork + one metal spoon (because I still don't 100% believe these plastic spoons :)
Water purification
- Micropur Forte
Spice Shaker
- Light My Fire Salt&Pepper Plus
Tin mug, Dish sponge, Box of Matches


Electronics

Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ70. Handy superzoom camera that I can carry on my belt - versatile and with a good image quality. Also, it's often referred as one of the best travel compact cameras on the market.

Camera pouch

National 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
- Since I installed Locus maps, I use it for the navigation.
Powerbank

Spare camera battery
- as one is not enough for 1 week of trekking
Spare batteries
- AAA batteries for the headlamp.
Headlamp
- Black Diamond Spot Headlamp.
Charging cables for the camera and smartphone.


Hygiene

Toothbrush, toothpaste, interdental brushes

Toilet paper
- reasonable amount, not the whole roll :)
Small towel
- usually lose it during the trek, but still keep taking it.
Sunscreen lotion
- the higher UV factor, the better. But take only a small tube, not the whole bottle :)
Lip balm
- used to get herpes on the 3-4th day of the trek because of the combination of sunstroke and exhaustion. This small guy really helped me with it.
Insect repellent
- didn't take it in the last few years since them most problematic insect in the Caucasus are the horseflies and those simply don't care :) Luckily, there are not that many in the Caucasus yet.
Pack of tissues

Biodegradable soap
- for washing of hands and also of clothes.
Nail clipper
- I thoroughly clip my toenails before the trip but still feel better if I have this one in reserve.


Common stuff

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 kit

you 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.

Rope

recommended for skilled groups who plan to stray away from well-established hiking trails. Priceless during dangerous river crossings or in steep, semi-climbing terrain.

Guidebook

It's good to have 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 & compass

At least someone should have a clue where you are actually going.

WD40 duct tape

Universal 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, Endiex or something similar
Cold, flu
- Theraflu or something similar
Various pain
(head, teeth) - painkillers


Other items

Trekking poles

In my younger years, I refused to use trekking poles, saw using them as a sign of weakness, but nowadays they are an indispensable part of my trekking gear. They make you go faster, especially uphill and greatly offload your knees and ankles. Also, they occupy your arms which 1) makes them stronger 2) they don't feel like a sausages swollen with blood after whole day of uselessly hanging by the body. On the downside, they increase your overall energy expenditure and you may "run out of gas" earlier.
Still, I chose to use them. Right now, I own Fizan Compact, made by reputable Italian company. Marketed as the lightest trekking poles on the market, one pole weight only 173 grams. So far, I've been using them for two years and must say that in spite of the low weight, they are quite durable. And once they break, I will without any qualms buy them again.

Pocket knife

Victorinox Camper. I used each of its features at least once.

Sunglasses

I use Slovak brand Optimal 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 links. Pointing to products. Since July 2018, some of them are affiliate links - that means that if you click on it and buy something, I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Finally decided to get registered as an Amazon Associate after being laughed at by my fellow travel blogers. Now I am eager to find if it actually makes some money :)




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