Packing for a hike can be overwhelming. There are so many things to take into consideration that it can be difficult to know where to start. But fear not! After 8 years of hiking around the world, I’ve learned how to pack for a successful hike. I know what gear is necessary for a hike and what not. And, as you will see, I am a bit of a gear junkie. I only buy reliable, durable, and versatile gear.
So, without further ado, here is my ultimate packing list for female hikers. It’s divided into sections and can be applied to a variety of scenarios and climates. Feel free to use the table of contents to jump around if you are looking for something specific.
And, at the end of this guide, you will find a free printable hiking checklist that you can download for your next trip.
When it comes to backpacks there are a lot of options, and choosing the right backpack is essential. In fact, it should be your priority. A good backpack can make the difference between an enjoyable hike and a miserable one. I have 3 backpacks to cover all hiking scenarios.
Here are the hiking backpacks that I use:
Day Hiking Backpack: If you are going for a day hike, then a daypack is ideal. Anything between 20-30L will suffice. I use the Wandrd Prvke 21 L camera backpack. It holds all my essential camera gear as well as water and snacks. It’s the perfect backpack for a day hike.
Weekend Backpack: If you are hiking for more than a day, then you will want something larger. A backpack between 30L-50L is ideal if you don’t need to carry camping gear. My go-to weekend backpack is the LowePro Whistler 450. It’s not the lightest backpack on the market, but it’s very durable and comfortable. I can pack all my camera gear and still have space for clothes, food, and water.
Large Backpack: For multiday hiking, you will need a large backpack. Anything over 50L will have the capacity to carry all your gear, water, and food. If you plan on being self-sufficient you will even need a bag this size for a weekend hike. I use the Deuter Aircontact 50 + 10L SL backpack. It’s durable, comfortable, and lightweight. I’ve had it for 8 years and it’s traveled all over the world with me. If you are looking for a good hiking backpack that can be used anywhere then this is it.
For a more detailed explanation, check out my guide on choosing the right hiking backpack.
Clothing and Footwear
Your hiking clothes should be lightweight, quick-drying, and comfortable. There’s not a lot of room for fashion here. It’s more about function. Of course, what, and how much you take will depend on the length of your hike and the climate.
Here is my complete list of clothing, including outwear and footwear:
- Quick-dry T-shirts – I wear one and pack a spare. I, currently, use Karrimor rapid dry t-shirts, but any brand will do.
- Thermals – Except when I am hiking in hot and humid climates, I always pack my thermals. They are perfect to sleep in or wear under my clothes in cold weather. My go-to brand is Under Armor ColdGear.
- Breathable Socks – I usually have 2 extra pairs of socks to ensure my feet are always dry.
- Breathable Underwear – I pack only what I need. And I only wear underwear that is breathable and comfortable. You don’t need anything fancy for a hike.
- Sports Bra – Unless I am going on a multi-day expedition in a hot and humid climate, I never pack an extra sports bra.
- Hiking Pants – It might come as a surprise, but I prefer wearing men’s hiking pants. I wear the Wedgemount Zip-Off Pants by Oldo. They are lightweight, water-resistant, large enough to layer, and comfortable.
- Aconcagua Mid-layer Mammut Jacket – It’s comfortable, fast-drying, and lightweight. When temperatures drop or the wind picks up, this is the first thing I grab.
- Puffy Down Jacket – If you are hiking in cold weather, you will need a down jacket. They are lightweight but warm. My favorite is the Albula IN Hooded Mammut jacket. It packs small and weighs nothing.
- Waterproof Shell Jacket – You should always have a waterproof jacket to protect yourself from the rain. Don’t skimp on this one and get a jacket made from Gore-Tex. I use the Kamet Light GTX jacket from Millet. Again, I prefer the men’s version. It’s roomier than the women’s jacket so I can easily add layers when the temperature drops.
- Waterproof Shell Pants – I use these only when I am hiking in colder weather. But for hikes in hot and humid climates, they are suffocating. Currently, I have the Paclite Gore-Tex Overtrousers by Berghaus.
- Warm Gloves – My hands are always cold. And, for cold weather hiking, I carry two pairs of gloves so I can layer them if I need to. I use Alit Guide Gore-Tex gloves from Millet. They are heavy-duty gloves made for mountaineering.
- Warm Hat – For when the temperature drops, you’ll want a warm hat.
- Hat with a Brim – I always wear a brimmed hat. It protects my eyes and face from the sun.
- Hiking Boots – Investing in a good pair of hiking boots is essential. A bad pair of hiking can ruin your hike. I found Aku Superalp Goretex boots to be excellent with all terrains. They are waterproof, support my ankles, and absorb the shock when I walk on hard surfaces.
- Strapped Sandals – Strapped sandals can be used to cross rivers or as camp shoes. For overnight hikes, I always have my Teva Hurricane XLT2 sandals with me.
Personal Hygiene Items
Here is a complete list of personal hygiene items I pack for a hike:
- Refillable travel bottles (shampoo, body wash, and face soap) – I bring the bare minimum. And, if I need to save weight, I will use my shampoo as my body wash.
- Wet Wipes – If I’m hiking for several days without access to a shower, I bring wet wipes.
- Toilet Paper – Self-explanatory. Remove the cardboard center to save space and weight.
- Sunscreen – Getting a sunburn while hiking can have serious consequences. I carry a bottle of SPF 50 (or more) sunscreen on every hike.
- Menstrual Cup – Menstrual products are a very personal choice. But, once I made the change and started using a menstrual cup, my life as a hiker improved. There are a lot of brands out there, so find what works for you.
- Extra Contacts and Contact Solution – I always bring extra contacts. I don’t want to be in a situation where I can’t see.
- Toothbrush and Toothpaste – For fresh and clean breath!
- Deodorant – For me, this is a non-essential item. I only bring deodorant if I am hiking in hot and humid weather.
Here is a list of my hiking gear essentials:
- First Aid Kit – A first aid kit is a must for any hiker. It should have the basics: tweezers, Band-Aids, a disinfectant, and pills (ibuprofen, anti-histamine, anti-diarrhea, etc.). If you don’t have a professional kit, you should at least carry these items.
- Water filter – You won’t always have access to clean water. So, a water filter is essential. I use Grayl water purifier. I’ve filtered a lot of disgusting water with this thing, and I’ve never had any problems.
- Water Bladder/Bottle – You should have the capacity for at least 3L of water. The easiest and lightest option is a water bladder. Osprey Hydraulics 3L Reservoir is my favorite. It’s lightweight, durable, and well-sealed to prevent leakage.
- Sea to Summit Dry (Ultra-Sil) Bags – These dry bags are great for not only organizing your gear but also keeping it dry. They come in different sizes and colors, are lightweight, and very durable. You can even use them to compress your clothes!
- Trekking Poles – Save your knees and use trekking poles. They are especially useful on steep descents. I don’t take mine on every hike, but on most.
- Microfiber Towel – A quick-drying towel is a nice luxury item. It’s great for after quick dips, a river crossing, or a shower.
- Head Lamp – Great for camping or if you are hiking in the dark.
- Multi-tool – A multi-tool can be used to fix anything. I always carry one in case of emergency.
- Extra Trash Bag – I always carry an extra bag to dispose of my trash. I believe in leaving no trace – what I bring in, I carry out.
I don’t take a lot of tech gear with me, only the essentials.
Here is what I pack on every hike:
- Camera Gear – As a travel photographer, I have a lot of camera gear. Check out my camera gear guide to see what I bring.
- Portable Battery – If you get lost and need to recharge your phone or GPS, a portable battery could save your life. I never go hiking without one.
- Phone – Self-explanatory. But! You should have an application that can track your location offline downloaded on your phone. Maps.me and Gaia GPS are two very reliable applications.
- Navigation System (GPS) – You should have a device that can track your location offline. While using your phone is a great option, there are dedicated GPS devices, like the Garmin inReach Mini. In case of an emergency, you will have a way to contact the authorities.
I don’t always camp when I go hiking, but, when I do, these are the items I bring with me:
- Tent – I have two tents: MSR Hubba NX Solo Backpacking Tent and Ferrino Nemesi 2. While I use both tents, when I want to decrease my bag’s weight, I bring my MSR tent. It’s more compact and easier to pack.
- Sleeping Bag – I went to my local army surplus store to buy my sleeping bag. They had several warm lightweight bags for a reasonable price.
- Sleeping Mat – I have a sleeping mat, but I can’t recommend it. I am on the market for a new one! A sleeping mat might seem like a luxury item, but it’s not. Not only does it improve your sleep, but it also protects your body from the cold ground.
- Jetboil Cooking System – It’s the lightest and fastest cooking system on the market. I’ve had mine for years, and it’s awesome!
Free Printable Hiking Gear Checklist
Here is your free hiking gear checklist to help you plan your next hike.
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Read More Articles About Hiking
Hope you enjoyed my ultimate packing list for female hikers and found it useful. Here are some other articles that I think you might find interesting.
- How to Choose the Right Backpack for Hiking
- My Best Hiking Tips From Around The World
- Climbing Chachani: Peru’s 6000m Volcano
Do you have any questions about your hiking gear checklist? Send me a message in the comments below!
Interested in more hiking tips and tricks? Check out my other posts for more hiking tips!