How to Pack a Hiking Backpack

Dr. Tyler Buckley

December 28, 2022

Hiking Backpack

There are several items you should include when packing a hiking backpack. These include a first aid kit, a sun hat, and sunscreen with UPF. You can also have a rain poncho and a pair of sunglasses.


When hiking, you must wear sunglasses that offer you complete protection. You want to ensure good security from the sun’s UV rays. Also, it would be best if you got a pair that feels comfortable on your face.

A pair of sunglasses with a polarized lens can help you see better. This is because polarized lenses reduce glare from horizontal surfaces and the sun’s rays. Polarized lenses are beneficial in the backcountry.

Fortunately, there are plenty of quality options to choose from. Choosing the right ones can make a big difference in your enjoyment.

First, be aware that sunglasses are classified by their VLT (Visible Light Transmission). Having a trained salesperson provide you with a proper fitting is also helpful.

Sun hat

The Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap is a versatile, lightweight hat with convenient features. It can be worn as a baseball-style cap or converted to a sun cap with a removable neck cape. Designed to be used in the backcountry, this hat is lightweight, functional, and easy to pack.

The hat features mesh panels on the sides that allow ventilation. There is also a built-in sweatband that keeps the wearer cool. Moreover, this hat is designed to dry quickly.

Another essential feature is the UPF rating. The higher the rating, the more protection the hat provides—for example, a cap with a UPF of 50+ blocks at least 98% UV rays.

You can also choose a cap that has a mesh back. This is a favorite among hikers because it provides good ventilation.

Sunscreen with UPF

When it comes to sun protection, sunscreen is often the first thing that comes to mind—however, many other ways to protect your skin while on the trail exist. For instance, high-quality UPF clothing is better than applying a greasy lotion to your entire body.

UPF clothing, or ultraviolet protection fabric, is a material that blocks UVA and UVB rays. Typically, it is made of a tight weave that reduces the amount of ultraviolet light that gets through. A well-constructed item may even block the rays from bouncing off snow.

The UPF rating tells you how effective the fabric is. It is usually a scaled-down version of the SPF number, and the higher the number, the more influential the item.

First aid kit

There is a variety of hiking backpack first aid kits to choose from. It’s essential to get the right one for your needs. You may need a more extensive kit for a long trip or a piece of smaller equipment for a weekend hike.

The best hiking backpack first aid kit combines items to help you with various common hiking injuries. It should be light enough to fit in a backpack and contain all the necessary tools to treat minor injuries.

This might include small bandages, medical tape, and a thermometer. These are essential items, but they are helpful in a pinch.

A splinter, for example, requires immediate treatment to stop the bleeding and protect it from infection. A simple triangle bandage can stabilize the object until help arrives.


If you are planning to go hiking, one of the essential things you should have in your backpack is a rain poncho. It is designed to keep you dry from the rain and protect your backpack from getting wet.

A good backpacking poncho is lightweight, fits over your backpack, and provides excellent coverage. The material should be water-repellent, but it is essential to choose one that is also breathable.

Usually, a poncho has drawstrings around the hood and waist. Some ponchos come with zippered vents. These can help provide additional ventilation.

Several ponchos have grommets along the edges. This helps prevent the poncho from blowing in. Other ponchos are lined with waterproof fabric.

If you’re buying a poncho for backpacking, make sure it’s the right size. Make sure it covers your whole body and not just the front.