The perfect backpack

How to prepare the best backpack for hiking

When you plan a long or short excursion that is, the first fundamental question to ask yourself is: "What do I bring me behind?"

The answer, usually, is: "All that can serve ..."

As far as this answer can solve all the unexpected events that could occur in your adventure, you must always make an accurate choice of objects to upload to shoulder. This is because a backpack too abundant with accessories will generate a remarkable weight. As a result you will buy on your shoulders not making you fully enjoy the experience and limiting you, sometimes, in the movements in paths that maybe require speed and lightness.
In these few lines I will try to help you in the preparation of the best backpack for the type of route and season in which the adventure in the mountains is undertaken.

Usually, when I prepare the backpack I follow this simple ladder:

  1. Excursion type
  2. Season
  3. Route type
  4. Food and beverages
  5. Extra

Before deepening each single section, I immediately carry out objects indispensable .
All objects that, regardless of type of excursion, path, season and weather, must be present in the backpack!

  • sunglasses : if the weather is not good, don't even think of leaving ...
  • watch : analogue or digital you always have to have it with you.
  • boots, approach shoes : Of course, you will undoubtedly wear for the excursion, but it can happen that you can take the car, take hours of road, park, look with the nose all 'Use the summit you will have to reach and ... you forgot the boots at home!
  • Topographic map : You must always have the portion of a detailed map with the full path of the excursion.
  • Personal documents and some guise : The documents are fundamental for any eventuality. As for the money I advise you to take you something in case you find a malga, a refuge and be able to enjoy a nice piece of dessert or a yogurt just done!
  • mobile phone /satellite : based on the type of adventure one of the two must always be with you. The satellite phone is mandatory for wild and solo adventures. In the case of "normal" excursions the mobile phone must always be with you. Even in cases of signal absence there should be the minimum field for emergency calls.
  • paper handkerchiefs : always useful, not only to blow your nose. They can be useful for cleaning small wounds and abrasions.
  • First aid kit : There are a myriad of kit. The important thing is to have a minimum set that includes: disinfectant or disinfectant wipes, patches, gauze, tweezers, scissors, safety needles, cottonfioc, elastic bandage.
  • Thermal blanket : I recommend bringing it away always. Not much weighs, it does not occupy space and will be very useful in case of need.
  • Cocoa butter and sunscreen : There are no excuses, regardless of the season, UV rays are strong in the mountains and you must have protection for skin and lips. In case of snow the type of protection increases!
  • Front Torch : You can't know if you'll find the difficulties that you will oblige you late. In the event that the darkness occurs you will have to be ready. In any case, if I had to run into a little illuminated cave or tunnel not marked on the map, this small and light object will save you.
  • sanitizing hands : We have learned to use it in the last periods. It allows to guarantee cleanliness even in places without water.
  • Swiss knife : fundamental to have a set of very useful and ready-to-use tools in a very small object.
  • bladder patches : I recommend the Brand Compeed. A few consider these small emergency devices that really solve one of the most annoying problems that can occur in the mountains. Do not underestimate them and, for the small weight they have, they must be present in a pocket of your backpack. If I had to have blisters unfortunately, I'm sure you'll thank you!
  • Mini gearbox kit : Usually an intimate change, socks and a shirt are sufficient. In the mountains, for the sudden change of time or sudden downpours, you will have to have the foresight to bring you behind these garments to always be dry.
  • GPS : Which is integrated into your mobile, in a smartwatch or a special device, the GPS must always be with you. It will help you and orient yourself and to instantly understand where you are.

Now that you have prepared the essential to always carry with you, we deepen every section.


Excursion type

You must be clearly in mind what type of excursion you are preparing. A hiking (one-day excursion), a trekking (excursion of more days) or a simple morning /afternoon walk.
The type of excursion will also determine the type of backpack and its capacity.
Let's start from the excursion that the need for a full-bodied and full of objects: the trekking .
You are taking a more day adventure in which you will have to have planned in detail the various stages you are going to travel day by day. The first thought goes to where you sleep. If you can organize a route in which there are shelters, then you are on horseback and you can lighten the baggage a little, otherwise a tent is a must. Consequently, in case, there will also be necessary to be able to cook a good rign. If you are oriented to the pure adventure you will earn a bit of a place and weight, leaving the stove at home to opt on a comfortable steel and prepare a real explorer dinner. Summarizing, for trekking, objects to be evaluated are:

  • backpack : I usually chosen over 60 liters
  • camping tent with insulating mattress
  • Fornelletto, kitchen kit
  • sleeping bag
  • Thermal blanket (very useful in addition to its usual use, even to do as insulation in the absence of the mat)
  • steel
  • satellite phone
  • Waterproofing Spray : It allows to guarantee waterproofing to boards continuously stressed on paths composed of torrential coils or situations where the weather is not always nice for the entire period of the excursion. Very useful also to be used on the outer part of the tent.

Let us now go to hiking , the day excursion.
Usually this type of excursion obliges the hiker to wake up very early and to finish the path to darken. It therefore forces a very broad onion clothing that can occupy a lot of space. For many hours of walking, solid and liquid supplements may be needed to balance the effort that you will go. Recaping therefore, for hiking, they will serve:

  • backpack : he usually chosen between 20 and 60 liters
  • clothing (possibly technical) light : short sleeve shirt, cap with front panel (in any season)
  • Clothing (possibly technical) heavy : light fleece, windproof shell
  • vitamins, salts easy to reintegrate what burned during the excursion

Finally, for the single morning or afternoon excursion of a few hours, it will only choose the suitable backpack. Light and slightly heavy, the essential to enjoy a brief adventure in tranquility. For this type of activity the ideal backpack is very small, infer to the 20 liters.



For each excursion it is essential to know the time of the year in which you are carrying out the mountains. Obviously, in addition to seasonality, you will need to take into consideration the departure and arrival altitude of the expected itinerary. Let's start from the assumption that an excursion beyond 2500mt, regardless of the season, will lead to the choice of heavy technical clothing. The wind at those altitudes is always present, especially in the forks, and then you will have to keep in mind this indication to choose the right clothing. We therefore consider the seasonality for an average itinerary that reaches the maximum quota lower than 2500mt.

Spring / autumn :

  • cap with front panel : useful both for strong sun and to shelter from sudden shower rooms
  • k-way : the season does not always guarantee stable weather (in the mountains anyway it is never!)
  • windbreaker : the wind is always pungent.
  • socks : cotton or technicians
  • short sleeve thermal shirt
  • spare shorts (optional)
  • Heater : especially useful in the early hours of the day
  • light gloves : underestimated, but very useful in the event of a sudden temperature change. They don't weigh anything: throw them inside the backpack!

summer :

  • same steps in spring except for warmer and light gloves
  • lots of water : but you will then see the "food and drink" section

winter :

  • wool cap : the head must always remain in the heat
  • k-way
  • windbreaker /shell
  • Felped technical clothing : There are many technical garments that provide for the windproof shell and a perfect sweaty internal padding for winter excursions.
  • batteries : to always take the small weight. It can be useful under the jacket to keep even more heat.
  • Thermal shirt Long sleeves
  • heavy gloves /snow
  • snow leggings : Even if you do not undertake a path where you will need ciaspe, the leggings will be fundamental in those stretches where you will find snow. They will allow you to dry in the terminal part of the pants.
  • warmer
  • Rockets : Simple, can be those in rubbed rubber or the steel shirt with the tips. They are essential to always guarantee an optimal grip even in the case of snow /ice.
  • thermos : must not be missing in your backpack! A hot drink with rigid temperatures will regenerate you at need.
  • Long socks and spare wool : With the possibility of bathing your feet in case of snow entering the leggings, or the boots are not adequately waterproofed, you must have a pair of long socks And hot to use.


Type of route

Here is the most delicate part in which you will have to be prepared for the itinerary you will have to face. You will have to search for information about the environment, on the path, on the presence of shelters and possible strategic and dangerous points. You can search for the itinerary directly on this portal (in a simple and intuitive way with the interactive map), or through search engines.
You may also help this article on "How to plan a [Link] excursion" in which there are many tips and directions on how to better prepare the release in the mountains. The types of paths where additional accessories will be needed are:

  • ferrata routes /equipped paths : In this type of paths you will find fixed ropes that will allow your advance on rock or in exposed points. You will always have to have these devices with you:
    • kit from ferrata : composed of harness, rope, carabiners and helmet
    • Ferrata gloves : To avoid peeling your hands with the steel cable, maybe ruined in some points
  • Alpinistic /high ways routes :
    • kits and ferrata gloves : In this type of paths it is natural to find points where there is a fixed rope to which hook up
    • rope : It will allow you to bind two or more people together thanks also to the PICRAGO
  • glacier :
    • crampons : automatic, semi-automatic or universal but must be 12-pointed crampons. In this case, I absolutely not bring the rocchini!
    • snow leggings : regardless of the season here will serve
    • harness and rope : in case of two or more people advice to bind themselves to increase safety
    • ice nails : indispensable to overcome critical fruit caused by crevasses
  • snow :
    • snowshoes : Indispensable in the case of fresh and /or abundant snow. Will allow you a constant progression without sinking.
    • leggings : you will need to keep you dry trousers
    • mini rampons : here you can only add the rocchonts to allow you to overcome wildlife pieces and short pieces of frozen route
  • hiking trail :
    • sticks : very useful to avoid effort and fatigue exclusively on legs and knees. The use of sticks (possibly telescopic) will allow you to distribute fatigue on your arms and allow you to faster advance. The choice of accessories for tips will allow you to bring this tool even in the paths with snow, rock or mixed.


Food and Beverage

Here we are at the most personal backpack portion. Here you can get angry with the more you like, but attentive: every delicane can let you rise the weight of the backpack in an impressive way!
Usually I leave the liquids, based on the season and the type of day that you prospect, always start with at least 2 lt of water + mineral salts. In summer, arrival to use a camelbak on the backpack back to increase the contribution of liquids at least 3 liters. Regardless of the season I advise you to bring you a small thermos with a hot drink: tea, herbal tea, infusion or even coffee. Even during the summer season it could be very useful, trustworthy. In the event that the route should have a shelter during the journey, then I advise you to verify (call the telephone number of the refuge /malga) if the structure is open. In this case you will be very lucky and you can halve or even reduce the weight for the bottoms: upon arrival at the refuge you can make a top-up of liquids that will be needed to continue.
With regard to food, here really is your choice: if it is a trekking you will most likely take you a nice weight of cooking products (always if you don't choose the freeze-dried foods ready in a few minutes with water). For a highly excursion a pair of sandwiches are the top, along with some trolis (such as tartan, snacks). For the most technicians even a couple of bars and carbohydrate /protein base gels will replace a good meal in an artificial way, giving you a significantly lighter weight and a minimum footprint in the backpack. Also in these cases, if the journey has shelters, lunch can be excluded from the preparation of the backpack: it will be enough to sit at the table and enjoy all the typical dishes that the refuge will offer you (including a nice slice of homemade cake like Closure!).
Summarizing, generically in the backpack you will need to expect:

  • water bottle : one or more to reach the total liters adequate to adventure
  • thermos : it must not be too big, but guarantee a hot drink if necessary
  • rancio : your packed lunch



We arrived at the end: the extras. In this section there will be all objects that are not essential to the excursion, but which will surely give a personal touch to your experience. Here the price to pay is always weight and bulk.
I advise you to make a careful choice on these proposals:

  • powerbank : very useful tool in case of long excursions (even daily) in which the mobile phone is subjected to a hard work where the GPS is always active. It should never be missing in the case of solo releases to prevent you from having the drain battery for any of your electronic devices. Remember to take away the cables of the devices to top up! I recommend a 20,000mAh powerbank (or higher) and, possibly, with solar top-up.
  • Camera : Today we use the mobile phone to take photos /videos. If you want more professional memories, remember to take you away a nice reflex, but ... eye to the weight of the accessories!
  • Binoculars : If you are hiking in a naturalistic park, you will have the opportunity to see uncommon animal species. The binoculars will allow you to grasp details that to the naked eye would not see.
  • booklet for timbres : in the Dolomites, but not only, every refuge has its recognition stamp. Bring yourself a booklet with some white page to get involved, as a remembrance, the stamps of all the shelters you visit.

A final trick: the positioning of objects inside the backpack.
There is no specific guideline for this, I still advise you to put the heavier objects towards the bottom of the backpack bag, closer to the back and away the less heavy objects up to the culmination of the backpack. The water bottles tend to insert them in the outer parts and central parts of the backpack by balancing it in the right and left part thus having the same weight on both sides. The smaller objects can be inserted in the upper pocket. To take into account the tools that could be used more frequently: handkerchiefs, sunscreen, topographical map, Swiss knife, etc. These objects must be arranged in an easy-to-access pocket, usually the upper one. In the lower pocket he puts the objects that you often do not use as the K-Way, the PowerBank, the torch, etc.

I hope I gave you all the useful information to prepare a backpack appropriate to your needs. Certainly you will always be ready to what awaits you: nothing will surprise you and the excursion will be a success!
As a further gift, here is a list to be able to make a checklist of everything you could insert in the backpack. With the advice you just gave you you will be able to distinguish what to bring and what to leave at home.

Use the different formats to always carry this checklist with you and integrate it with new objects. Use it in your every excursion to make sure you have taken everything you need!
Remember: in the mountains the backpack is your best friend and will be the starting point for the next adventure!

Paolo Segat - MyBestTimeHiking
(last update 04/18/2021)