Any seasoned 3-day backpacker, hiker, or camper would undoubtedly affirm that all the gears they would need to focus on when preparing for a trip are the backpack. It is the most crucial thing that can easily ruin a great backpacking or hiking weekend if not planned well or can even result in life-changing consequences.
If you think that as long as the backpack is big enough to carry your things, you are good to go, think again! The wrong material will not survive an unexpected rainy day. The size of the backpack may fit all your things, but the length of your torso and body weight may not fully carry the load for the next three days. It may not even fit the luggage requirement size if, by chance, you need to travel by plane.
Factors To Consider When Finding The Right Backpack Sizes For The 3-Day Hiking Trip
Let us look at the important features of a 3-Day Backpack before heading out to the store.
The volume basically just refers to the space inside the backpack, which is either measured in liters, cubic inches, or both. For a 3-day activity, there are two options to choose from, but it would depend on the kind of traveler you would be. The ideal volume is between 45 to 55 liters, and the space would be enough for 3 nights. However, some minimalist packers would find the 30 to 50 liters backpack enough for their needs, even if it’s ideally only for a 2-day hike. The question you need to answer is: Are you a minimalist or a traditional packer?
Right Torso Size
While most backpacks have adjustable shoulder straps and hip belt, carrying the right size that would fit your torso would mean equal share of heavy load for the whole body. Measure your torso length from the bony bump on the slope of your shoulder down to the spot on your lumbar center between your hip bones at the back. Never assume that your height will have an exact measurement directly related to the length of your torso. Some may be tall but have a shorter torso or vice versa.
Here are the general sizes to choose from:
- XS-Extra Small (14”-16”),
- S-Small (16”-18”),
- M-Medium (18”-20”),
- L-Large (20”-22”).
Right Comfortable Shape – Contoured and Padded
As a general rule, if it brings you pain, do not use it as it will just continue to escalate as the day goes on. With the advancement of technology we now enjoy, backpacks now are designed with a contoured shape to follow the natural curve of the back. The hip belt can help in the distribution of the weight-reducing the load on your back and shoulders. The straps and the hip belt needed to be padded to make it easier and more comfortable when carrying the heavy load.
Right Material – Durable and Waterproofed
It has to be 100% water-resistant. It was hard to waterproof everything, including stitching, openings flaps, and even zippers, but now they apply layers of coatings to make sure that it is protected from getting wet. Backpacks made from polyester, polypropylene, and nylon are great for camping, backpacking, and hiking trips, whether it is for a day or a weekend activity.
3-Day Backpacking/Hiking/Travel Essentials Checklist For Your Backpack
Most people packing for a 3-Day adventure oftentimes would bring more than they should and end up carrying too much load. If you are going to stick to the basic essentials, you will actually be surprised that you only need a few things to survive backpacking during the weekend.
Here are the top 10 essentials to be able to survive a three day or weekend adventure:
First Aid Kit
One can easily get this kit from any drug or department store. Just make sure to check if the kit has something to treat wounds and blisters along with gauze pads and bandages of different sizes. This is also where you put your personal medications, including antihistamine for allergies, OTC pain medication, and something for diarrhea.
Map, Compass, or GPS device
Any topographic map of the area, along with a compass, is necessary to add to your essentials. Even if you have the digital versions of these items, such as a traveler’s map downloaded to your mobile phone, a compass app, or a GPS device, it does not hurt to bring something which is not battery-reliant. Accidents do happen, and nothing beats going analog.
The kitchen supplies would depend on what you want to do on those three days. Food and water should last for three days. Be sure to bring a small screw-on water filter in case you won’t find a clean water source. A light but durable camping stove with enough fuel for the duration of the trip along with an easy to carry a pot. Don’t forget the spoon, knife, scissors, and a cleaning cloth. Buy a bear canister that can hold and protect your food from animals.
Aside from a cap and sunglasses, it is essential to bring sunscreen.
A portable shelter of some sort is essential, and a tent is highly recommended, but make sure to bring something light yet durable and can protect you from the sudden changes in the weather and annoying insects.
Light and Emergency Repair Kit
A headlamp is best for going around at night but get something that is light and compact. Bring also a Swiss knife, flashlight, a packing tape, and a rope.
Clothes will highly depend on the season and the location, but it has to last until the third day. Choose clothes with breathable material but durable enough for a rugged trail. Don’t use cotton as it absorbs moisture, and it can cling to the body, although it is perfect during the dry season. It is important to bring with you a light raincoat or waterproof poncho during hikes. Don’t forget to bring enough pairs of socks.
Sleeping Bag and Sleeping Pad
Never assume that all sleeping bags are created for all seasons. Always bring something that is appropriate for the weather condition and the location. Sleeping bags are made from different materials. If you are going to sleep inside the tent, choose something with a more breathable material, but if you are going to sleep outside under the stars or a tarp, make sure it is made from waterproof material.
Most new outdoor adventurers would forget the sleeping pad until they realize during the sleeping time that the ground is cold, uneven, and rough. The good thing these days is that most stores would remind you to get both sleeping bag and pad.
Whether you end up in an established camping site or not, it is important to have the essential toiletries for cleaning up, including toilet paper, hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol, wet wipes, paper towel, liquid soap, toothpaste, and toothbrush.
While it is best to have butane lighter in camping or hiking, a couple of boxes of wooden matches wouldn’t hurt. Place them inside a zip plastic bag to avoid getting them wet. Cotton balls dipped in petroleum jelly are great fire starters when creating wood fires.
3-Day Packing Tips for Backpackers and Hikers
Even with the help of a checklist from experienced backpackers, it is still a daunting task to be able to pack all the essentials in a backpack. However, when you have the right backpack size, and you truly only choose the basic essentials to bring, then it would be easy to pack them up.
- Group them according to their functionality. This is your way of checking if you have everything on your list.
- Gather all the bulky items such as sleeping clothes, sleeping bag, and pad at the very bottom of the pack. Your poncho or raincoat has to be on top of the pack for easy access along with your other clothes.
- All the heaviest essentials must be placed against your back, including water, food stove, and the like. The softer essentials such as tents and spare clothes can be placed in between the gaps to maintain the balance and to keep them from moving inside.
- The first aid kit, a small water bottle, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper should be in the outer compartments or anywhere that can easily be accessed.
- The maps, GPS device, sunglasses, snacks, and mobile phones should be placed on your side pockets to avoid having to open your backpack before you reach your camping site.
If you are a minimalist packer, make sure that you have the right amount of essentials that can last for three days, and if you are a traditional packer, remember it is never a good thing to carry a load that your body cannot carry comfortably in the next three days. Traveling with a group can easily reduce the load as long as you plan it out properly, such as delegating the kitchen essentials. Check the location of the camping or hiking site to be able to know how much water you should bring. Have your mobile phone and charger/power bank in a safe casing to avoid getting them wet. Lastly, educate yourself by reading and watching more about backpacking or hiking before going out on your first adventure.