What to pack for an overnight hike

Have you ever reached your hiking destination and thought to yourself “I’d love to stay here longer” and turn your day hike into an overnight hike?

Doing an overnight hike might be a little ambitious if you have really little kiddos, but if you’ve got some time by yourself or some adventurous older kids you’ll have the time of your life doing an overnight hike!

When you go camping at a provincial campsite where everything is accessible it’s not as worrying to forget something as it is when you’re climbing to the top of a mountain!

When you’re planning for an overnight hike the key is to be very organized. Take your time preparing everything that you need so you don’t forget anything. Make a list or print this handy one out. Cross each thing off as you pack it into your bag.

What to pack in your overnight hiking backpack

What you’ll need for an overnight hike

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overnight hike tent1


You’ll need a compact tent that doesn’t weight much. *It’s nice to have a two-man tent in case you go camping with a friend or you have your pooch with you!

Sleeping bag

Make sure you find one that will be rated for the weather that you’ll be spending the most time in. If you are in a cooler climate get a sleeping bag that’s intended to be in temperatures less than 0 degrees celcius. Even if you’re not in cooler climates you’ll be grateful for some extra warmth at night time!


You wouldn’t think that a super compact, inflatable mattress would provide any sort of comfort, but it sure does!

Compressible pillow

This will make or break your sleep and is totally worth it for some folks (including Sam). If you’re not looking for a compressible pillow you can stuff some of your clothes into the sleeping bag storage bag and use that instead!

overnight hike thermarest sleeping pad sleeping bag compressible pillow


This is a big one! You don’t want to pack too much, but you don’t want to pack too little, either.

For one day and one night you need:

-the outfit you’re wearing, weather dependent

-an extra top for the hike the following day

-extra bottom for the hike the following day

-two pairs of socks

-extra sports bra


-pants to wear at night



-bathing suit if there’s a lake



-sandals for around camp


Toiletries are almost as important as your tent and sleeping bag! Don’t believe me? There is no good alternative to toilet paper…

-vitamins and prescriptions

-toothbrush, toothpaste, floss


-bug spray

-baby wipes



-feminine care products (if necessary)

**Don’t forget that some of these things are scented. Make sure you hang these things up with your food at night to keep it out of reach of bears!

toiletries to take on an overnight hike

Waterbottle and/or Water Bladder

Having both is ideal. The water bladder is great for when you’re hiking so you can have H2O on the go, but having a water bottle kicking around at camp is lovely. Plan how much water you bring on your trip based on whether there’s a water source or not.

Safety gear

-first aid kit

-water purification tablets

-bear spray

-bear bangers






overnight hike safety gear


You’re not going to want to miss out on getting photos in. Make sure you pack your phone, camera, GoPro, and extra charger so you can show the family back home what you were up to!

Cooking Gear

You may not need all of this, but if you’re looking for a hot meal and there’s a campfire ban on these things are nice to have!




-pots and/or pans

-utensils for cooking

-utensils for eating

-French Press


-plate and/or bowl


overnight hike camp stove cooking gear french press


This is entirely dependent on you and the hike you’re doing. Dehydrated food packs are a great option for a filling, delicious meal that doesn’t weigh a lot or take up too much space. Make sure to bring lots of snacks, too!

Headlamp and/or flashlight

You’ll be grateful for light when you have to make your way to pee in the middle of the night!


When you’re all set up and have some time to relax it’s nice to have a book or journal to put your nose in while you listen to the sounds of nature around you. Don’t forget a pen!

Also, a little bit of cash, just in case. Safety first!

overnight hike extras

Now begins the game of Tetris into you pack. Try and distribute the weight evenly so that it doesn’t make you unbalanced. A 50 or 60-L pack should be sufficient for an overnight hike, but it’s definitely preference! Head to your local outdoor sports store and try some on to get an idea of what works best for you! There’s a great article on what size pack to buy here.

*To maximize your pack space a compression sack will help reduce the space. You can put your sleeping bag, clothes, and pillow in here depending on the size of compression sack you have!

There may be some things that you want to take that aren’t on this list or you may want to leave some of these things out. Bring what’s comfortable for you, but make sure you bring the essentials or you may not have the great time you should on the mountain! Print off this list and cross things off as you go to make sure you’re fully organized!