How to Pack Light For Your Hiking Adventures

Posted by: admin September 24th, 2019

If you’re about to hit the Colorado Trail, and you’re setting out from Denver, you’ve got 485 miles of mountainous terrain in front of you. That means it’s in your best interest to travel light. However, traveling light doesn’t mean leaving behind anything essential. You’ve got to pack light but pack smart.

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By guest blogger, John Paul Jabines.

Make lists
Before you begin to stuff clothes into your backpack, you must pause to think. Out on the Colorado Trail, you could be miles away from civilization in Frisco when you bump into a bear or, God forbid, a mountain lion!

Now, such encounters are rare and usually occur without injury or incident. However, if you do meet a bear, and it gets frisky near Frisco, won’t you wish you’d brought along a canister of bear spray?

When planning what to pack, make four lists:


Don’t take too many clothes but make them weather appropriate. It’s cold in them thar hills. There’s a good reason why Summit County is a popular skiing destination in winter. Check out the local weather forecast for where you’re headed and use that information when drafting your list. And don’t forget your rain jacket and gloves.

Needless to say, you won’t be able to buy a new tube of toothpaste when scaling Copper Mountain, so ensure anything you need is on this list. If you’re hiking with kids, don’t forget those wet wipes. And if you’re carrying a baby on your hike, ensure you’ve enough diapers and bags to hold soiled ones.

Consider what things you really need to take. If you’re camping along the trail, you’ll obviously need your tent. Choose camping gear that is both lightweight and appropriate for the conditions on the Colorado Trail. You also need a sturdy bear canister and consider taking that bear spray. And with all the wildlife and scenery you’re certain to see in Summit County, you’ll definitely need your camera.

These are the irreplaceable items you won’t be able to pick up in Frisco when you’re passing through. I mean, things like your id documents and credit cards. Though you’ll frequently be out of reception in the mountains, you’ll probably want to take your cell phone.

If you suffer from any medical condition, ensure that you take along any necessary medication. If you have allergies, take an Epipen.
Organize your gear
Once you’ve listed everything you need and assembled it all together, layout each item so that you can see what’s what. Also, ensure your backpack is empty and mentally run through the available space in that backpack considering where each item you’re taking can go. Your backpack should have rings at strategic points to allow you to strap your camping gear outside, so you won’t need to pack things like your ground mat and tent inside. When you finally begin filling your backpack, cross each item off your lists as you pack it so that it will be obvious when something is missing.
Now that you’ve organized your gear and you’re ready to pack, there’s an order for packing. Pack heavy items first. Then frequently used items. And finally, strap bulky items outside.

Heavy items
Pack heavy items first, in the bottom of your rucksack, closest to the frame. Ideally, they should be distributed so you’re not off-balance while hiking. The very heaviest things should be close to your spine. These would be things like a portable stove, gas for your stove, and your bear canister.

Frequently used items
Things that you might need to use in a hurry should go on top. The same goes for anything you know you’re going to need on the next leg of your journey. You don’t want to have to dig to the bottom of your bag for your lunch.

Anything you might need in a hurry should also go on top, like a First Aid Pack, a rain jacket, and your camera. If you’re a keen photographer, you might be better off getting a camera strap so you can hang your camera in front of your chest for instant use.

Any emergency medication, like your Epipen, should certainly be somewhere where you can reach it quickly. When it comes to things like bear spray, you might not have time to dig inside your backpack. Consider carrying that in a holster or, if you prefer, in a side pocket of your backpack.

Bulky items
Things like ground mats and sleeping bags are usually designed to be rolled up so that they can be strapped to the top or bottom of your backpack using the rings provided.
Now you’re ready to go!
Once you’ve crossed the last item off your list, you’re ready to hit the Colorado Trail. Wherever you go hiking around the world, these same basic rules can be applied to packing your backpack. Hiking is great fun for people of all ages, and I hope you have a fantastic time.