Complete Checklist of Trekking Essentials To Pack

It’s the season of wanderlust all around the country as well as the world. Travellers from all over are planning to hit the road and have a trip of a lifetime. Trekking is one of the most common adventure trips and getaways. If the travel bug bites you this season and you plan to go on a trek, here are all the trekking essentials you’ll need for your next adventure.

If your job or your university isn’t allowing you a long holiday, don’t let FOMO get the better of you as you can still make the best of the few days you have in hand. Be it 7, 5, or just 3 days, you can still hit the road, or rather, the trail. Whether you travel with your buddies or take that much-awaited solo trip, here’s all you need to know about packing for a trek.

The Backpacks and Bags

Hiker backpack trekking essentialsBefore anything else, let’s talk about trekking bags. They have to carry all your essentials and practically your whole life in it for a few days. The ideal rucksack shouldn’t make your neck, shoulders, or your back hurt in any manner, no matter how heavy it is. Ideally, it should also come with an attached daypack which can be detached in case you need a smaller bag to carry around. The material is important too to ensure durability.

Depending on the duration of the trek, a 45-55 litre rucksack should be good enough to pack all your trekking essentials. You also never know if it’s going to rain or snow. So, make sure to prepare for the worst and make sure your belongings will always remain dry and carry a waterproof cover for your bag.

Also read: Are these brands giving you the right backpack?

The Tent and Sleeping Bag

If you’re planning to invest in a sleeping bag, buy one that can keep you warm in all temperatures, even if they plummet to -10°C. As for camping tents, most treks these days provide them, but if you choose to invest, the following is what you need to keep in mind.

They should be sturdy, and not able to blow away with a strong gust of wind. They should stand strong even under rain or snowfall and come lined with a mosquito net. These are going to be your home for the few days of the trek so ensure that they provide you with adequate safety and comfort.

The Medicines and Food

Camp Coffee Fire Breakfast CampingYou may not have experienced high-altitude sickness in other trips to the mountains, but every trek is different. They drain your energy with every step you take, be it uphill or downhill. So, it’s better to be prepared for the worst than be unprepared thinking about just the best. Other than medicines for high-altitude sickness, make sure to carry medication for cold, constipation, headache, fever, band-aids, painkillers, basic antibiotics, and specific medication for any condition that you may have. You should also carry toilet paper, toothbrushes and paste, hand sanitizer, pads/tampons, and soap.

As far as food is concerned, your guides should have the cooking essentials with them (unless it’s a private trek). But, even if your meals are provided for you, it’s good to have some snacks to eat between meals. Nuts, dry fruits, high-calorie energy bars, chocolates, biscuits, cookies, and peanut butter are all good to quench lingering hunger pangs. You will also need to carry your own mug and bowl or plate. 

The Clothes and Shoes

Woman and man hiking in mountains with backpacksLayer, layer, layer. That’s the best you will get when it comes to clothing for treks. To do this, you’ll need a few quick-dry t-shirts (both long and short sleeved); a fleece jacket and wind-cheater; waterproof outer jackets and pants; a pair of comfortable but rugged pants (with pockets); thermal underwear; 3 pairs of warm socks; a few scarves, and regular underwear. Of course, you can tweak this based on the weather and temperature of your destination. 

As for shoes, these will be your life-saviour during the trek in tough terrain. A solid pair of comfortable ankle-length water-proof trekking shoes will prevent your ankles from getting twisted along the way. However, also make sure to carry a pair of flip-flops or other rubber sandals to use when crossing rivers and streams. You can also use them at the end of a long day of walking when you want to give your feet a rest, but you still need to protect them. 

The Other Hiking Essentials

Equipment and accessories for mountain hiking in the wilderness trekking essentialsApart from your medicines, clothes, and food, there are many other things you should carry with you. You’ll need a lamp to light your way in the dark, whether you’re still walking or walking around your camp. It’s always good to carry a quick-drying towel, even if you won’t be able to take a proper bath on the trek. Also, carry a walking stick to help in downhill sections.

A reusable water bottle is also absolutely essential. You can keep refilling it along the way and reduce your plastic waste. Equally essential is sunscreen, lip balm, moisturiser, a hat, and sunglasses. The higher up you go, the more powerful the sun’s rays. Colder temperatures and arid conditions can also dry out your skin causing it to painfully crack.

Pack Wisely

Lastly, but very importantly, pack wisely. If it’s something that you think you MAY NOT need, it shouldn’t make it to your backpack. Remember, you’ll have to quite literally carry the weight of your own wrong decisions, as these unnecessary things will only add to the weight on your shoulders and not have any utility.

You should also ensure that you have a fully charged phone and if you’re planning to take lots of pictures, a separate camera so that you don’t drain its battery. It’s usually best to assume that you won’t find electricity on your trekking route. So, carry extra batteries, solar powered or portable chargers, as well as the necessary cables.

TL;DR: Here’s a trek packing checklist for those too lazy to read 😉
  • A good backpack: Sturdy, durable, easy weight distribution and comfy shoulder pads/straps
    • A detachable day pack
    • Waterproof cover
  • Good quality tent (preferably with a mosquito lining) – if you are camping alone, group treks usually provide tents
  • A sleeping bag that can endure temperatures under -10°C
  • Insect repellant
  • Medicines
    • For cold and fever
    • Constipation/diarrhoea/nausea
    • Painkillers
    • Band-aids
    • Antiseptic
    • Bandages/gauze
    • A small pair of scissors
    • Thread and needle
    • Cotton
    • Personal medication for any pre-existing conditions
    • Antibiotics
  • Toiletries
    • Hand wash/soap
    • Facewash
    • Feminine hygiene products/men’s self-care products
    • Sanitizer
    • Toothbrush and paste, mouthwash
    • Comb/hairbrush
    • Toilet paper/wet wipes
    • Sunscreen
    • Lip balm
    • Moisturiser
  • Snacks
    • High energy protein bars
    • Dry fruits and nuts
    • Biscuits and chocolates
    • If trekking by yourself then also take easy-to-make or ready-to-eat foods like noodle packets, bread and peanut butter, etc
  • Utensils, one each of:
    • Plate
    • Spoon and Fork
    • Mug
    • Bowl
  • If trekking by yourself also carry basic cooking utensils like one or two multi-purpose pans. Stores like Decathlon will have specific camping utensils that are easy to pack as well.
  • Clothes – tweak this based on weather, temperature and duration of the trek
    • Few quick dry t-shirts (long sleeved and short sleeved)
    • Fleece jacket and windcheater
    • Waterproof jacket and pants
    • Comfortable trekking pants
    • Thermal underwear
    • Pairs of warm socks (3)
    • A pair of gloves
    • Scarves
    • Woollen hat and sun cap
    • Underwear
    • Quick-dry towel
  • Sturdy trekking shoes + a pair of slip-ons or flip flops
  • Water bottle + water purification tablets (or a water bottle that filters water)
  • Torch
  • Camera
  • Extra batteries for all electronic equipment
  • Power bank or solar powered reusable batteries
  • Sunglasses
  • Any necessary documents and photo IDs

No matter which trek it is, what the terrain has to offer, or how low the temperatures plummet if you know what trekking essentials to pack it will help you cope with whatever circumstances you find yourself in. Except maybe if you’re attacked by a bear. In that case, you’re probably on your own. 

Otherwise, this is a comprehensive list of the hiking or trekking gear you ought to pack for your trek no matter how short or how long it is. This is apart from the usual documents and ID proofs. Get these in, get your tickets, and trek away your worries. You’re welcome.

Related reading:

A guide to Triund Trek, the best trek for first-timers
Reasons to go trekking at least once in your life
How to prepare yourself for Chadar trek
The top 5 mountain trails in the world for Orophiles
Trekking experience to Machu Picchu
Hiking up the mountain of death
Journey to the base camp of Mount Everest



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