A few weeks ago we gave you some suggestions on what to wear in the mountains and be ready to face changeable weather. But those who decide to go for a hike in the mountains should also bring some essential items to keep safe and be prepared for emergency situations, especially if you are out in the mountains without guides. We asked Ercole Marchionni, mid-mountain guide and hiking instructor, for some useful advice on how to pack a hiking backpack.

First step: choosing the right hiking backpack

Choosing a backpack is the first, important  step. . 
For daytrips, a backpack of around 30 liters is sufficient, while for multi-day treks a backpack of up to 50-60 liters is recommended. In any case, it should have adjustable and padded shoulder straps, as well as a hip belt to distribute the load more evenly on your back.

What to put in your backpack

After choosing the most suitable backpack for your hike, it's time to fill it with everything you need to tackle the trek in the best possible way. This is our recommended check-list:
  • Detailed hiking map of the area, possibly on a scale of at least 1: 25,000;
  • Backpack rain cover, unless you use a rain poncho;
  • Telescopic trekking poles, very useful when walking to help lighten a part of the pack’s weight from your shoulders,
  • Compass and altimeter;
  • Binoculars;
  • Headlamp;
  • Certified sunglasses (attention is to be paid to protection 4 is essential in case of hikes on snow or ice);
  • First aid kit and personal medicines;
  • Mosquito repellent;
  • Sun cream (essential) with an UV protection factor appropriate for the altitude and hours of trekking;
  • Camera to immortalize the memories of the hike;
  • Mobile phone (check signal coverage based on location) well charged and ready to use;
  • Multi-purpose knife;
  • Whistle (useful for distress signals);
  • Sleeping bag liner to sleep in shelters;
  • Water bottle for water (2lt): it is essential not to remain without a reserve of water. Sodium integrators are useful, which help prevent the loss of body fluids caused by sweating;
  • Foods: sandwiches, dried fruit, chocolate or energy bars in quantities necessary and sufficient for the duration of the hike.


How to prepare your backpack: the expert's advice

Once you’ve prepared all the necessary equipment, it is time to pack your backpack.  Ercole suggests  putting clothes and objects in plastic bags and then putting them in the backpack: in case of rain they will be more protected.

Furthermore, for a better and balanced distribution of the weight of the backpack, it is advisable to put the heavier material on the bottom of the backpack, closer to the back, and the lighter materials on top.
We hope that this short practical guide on how to pack your hiking backpack will be useful to better organize your hiking adventure, alone or with a qualified expert.