How to Plan a Hiking Trip? Part 2

This is Part 2 of the two-part sequence on planning a hiking trip. In case that you've missed it, see Part 1 How to Plan a Hiking Trip?
  1. Main problems to solve for long hiking trips

  • Resupplying/logistics

    You need to organize the effective supply of enough food for your entire hiking trip. Planning and successfully executing a strategy for resupply is a must for long-distance hikers. You should also know in advance where grocery stores and post offices are located on the trail. Additionally, there are companies that ship resupply packages to hikers on some of the most popular trails (valid for the US).
  • Permits

    Many national parks throughout the world require permits. There are places where you need to apply for a permit long before your trip - especially if the place is popular among backpackers and the number of permits is restricted. Thus, it’s best to check whether permits are needed before making firm plans for an area.
  • Hiking footwear, clothing, and gear (including sleeping bag and pad, tent etc.)

    Proper equipment is critical to navigating through and living comfortably in the outdoors. Many backcountry emergencies result from people being poorly equipped to meet conditions. You will need appropriate and comfortable hiking footwear that’s durable, fits well, provides excellent traction and control. As far as clothing is concerned, layering is essential, especially when hiking in the mountains. For higher temperatures, pick up a pair of lightweight and breathable hiking shoes or trail-running shoes. For lower temperatures and rough terrain, choose high-cut boots that provide ankle support and give you more control and stability. Pick up a pair of proper hiking pants or shorts depending on the weather, your preferences, and last but not least – the presence or absence of mosquitos, black flies, and other insects. Pretty much the same is valid when choosing a shirt or T-shirt for hiking. For more information, read our post about hiking clothing.
  • Know your gear

    It doesn’t help to have all the right gear in your backpack if you can’t operate it. Take time to learn how to use your equipment before you leave home. Avoid going out on long trips to isolated places with untried gear. If you are using old gear, pull it out of storage and check to make sure it is in good repair before leaving. Carry a repair kit to fix your gear if something breaks down.
  • Specific problems related to the trail you’ve chosen

    Anything that can be of interest from natural hazards to dangerous wildlife and fierce bugs.
  1. Hiking around the world

Hiking around the world (especially if you want to do some long-distance hiking) makes planning even more complicated because in addition to applying for a permit, you’ll have to have a valid passport, go to the embassy and apply for a visa (if you decide to go hiking in Asia), buy a plane ticket, arrange travel insurance, and be vaccinated against tropical diseases such as malaria, leishmaniasis, Trypanosoma etc. (if you go to a tropical country). There’s usually some seasonality and it might be more convenient to visit a place popular for summer trekking, for example, off-season when there aren't so much buzz and hiking enthusiasts around.


Photo by Dan Gold
  1. Emergency planning

Emergency planning ensures that you are prepared for the unexpected, that people know where and when to look for you, and that your actions are rational and predictable in spite of the emotional trauma associated with any kind of emergency situation. A contingency plan should lessen the risks involved and increase the probability of being found in case of an emergency situation. Creating an emergency plan and leaving it with friends or family means safer hiking trip for you, fewer headaches and less unnecessary panic for your family (and friends). Additionally, carry a first aid kit in an outer container made of durable nylon to protect contents. Among the essentials in your first aid kit, you should include some analgesics/antibiotics/anaphylaxis (Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen, Sting relief pad etc.), bandages, antiseptic towelettes, blister care pads, gauze sponges, safety whistle, water-purifying tablets, extra shoelaces, fire starter, duct tape, multi-purpose tool. Anyway, its exact content depends on the features of the place you will go for a hike, the chronic diseases you have, and your previous experience.   

  1. Meal planning

Planning meals is an essential part of planning a hiking trip. You need to eat regularly throughout your hike. Having three solid meals a day with a snack or two in between is recommended. Food plays a large part in how much you enjoy the outdoors. You’ll need lightweight, non-perishable, high in calories foods that taste good. Exhaustion after a long day on the trail can make you think about skipping your dinner which isn’t good for your health and fitness; however, knowing that you have some tasty food in your pack can make you change your mind. A warm and tasty dinner can not only make you feel better but also boost your morale. In our post about packing for a multi-day hiking trip we mentioned that a 90 kg person burns around 550 calories per hour of hiking (it usually varies between 450 and 650 depending on the terrain, weather, your fitness etc.). Thus, you’ll need a lot of energy on the trail. So when planning your meals, look for foods rich in carbs, fats, and sugar - such kind of foods will provide you enough energy for a long hiking day.    

  1. Planning and packing your backpack

When packing your hiking backpack before hitting the trail, the little things can add up to make a big difference later. If you start out with a good organization system, life in the backcountry will be simpler and more pleasant. Plan carefully the contents of your hiking pack considering the duration of your trip, the expected weather and temperatures, the features of the terrain, the potential dangers on the trail, and your specific needs.

Do the packing the day(s) before the hike when you are not in a rush. Lots of novice hikers try to pack in the morning of the hike and as a result forget some important things like toilet paper, flashlight, fire starter, raincoat etc. It can be daunting to pack for your first wilderness adventure and you don’t want to exacerbate things further by doing it in a rush. Make detailed lists, and note what you do and do not use so that on future trips you can fine-tune the packing. Eliminate redundancy when pack planning. When deciding what to cut, think twice about eliminating insulation and food. A fleece or a sweater doesn’t weigh a lot and won’t slow you down significantly but can be very useful on the trail. It helps to have things you will need during the day near the top of your pack. Keep things like spare clothes and food there for an easy access without having to unpack other gear. Carry snacks in hip belt pockets and have your water bottle located so you can reach it without removing your pack. You can check out our posts about packing for a day-hike and packing for a multi-day hike. You will find some further recommendations on packing there as well as lists with basic and extra stuff essential for a hiking trip.


Planning a hike, whether for a weekend or a summer, takes time and energy, and the adventure itself can vanish in a welter of lists, logistics, maps, and food. Detailed planning is advisable for any hike, especially for a long-distance hiking trip that will take several weeks or months. Planning such a walk can be difficult, however. Sometimes, the process of planning your hiking trip can be more daunting than the hiking itself. Remember that compiling information takes time, and there are always gaps - you can’t avoid that. However, this shouldn’t discourage you because as soon as you take that first step into the wilderness, all the organization fades into the background. Then it’s just you and nature.

Trekking, like any other activity, is usually more successful if the participants are ready and if they have some idea of what to expect. So be ready to meet the challenges, be prepared to be flexible and to make the best of all circumstances.

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