Gearing up for an overnight hike

So you are going on a two-day hike. Here is my guide to what you will need for your adventure. As I am a gear freak, I tend to pack fairly heavily.

Bottom of big descent on Day 2, Genadendal Hiking Trail
Genadendal Hiking Trail

Get an idea of where you are going: research the hike to establish:

  • are there huts or do you need a tent?
  • if there are overnight shelters or huts, do they offer:
    • beds / mattresses
    • toilets
    • cooking facilities / braai grids / braai wood
  • is there drinkable water en route (water is heavy!)?

I have provided for 2 full days out: some hikes are a bit shorter and you can drop the second tea break on the second day and possibly even the lunch. Gear-wise this is targeted for a Western Cape winter.

  • route map or guide — if it’s a book just photocopy the relevant pages
  • backpack
  • hydration bladder in backpack or water bottles (I use 1 litre Nalgene canteens)
  • dry-bags
  • head torch
  • sleeping bag
  • hiking mattress
  • tent
  • long pants (or short)
  • hiking shirt or technical t-shirt (consider long-sleeves)
  • boots / shoes
  • socks (take a spare pair, especially if you expect wet weather)
  • hat (or peak / cap)
  • beanie or a Buff
  • scarf or a Buff
  • fleece top
  • waterproof jacket & waterproof pants
  • spare fleece or thermal undershirt (for evening & sleep wear)
  • thermal long-johns or tracksuit pants (for evening & sleep wear)
  • towel
  • camping stove like the MSR WhisperLite™ Stove or Campingaz Twister Plus PZ stove / gas cannister
  • cooking pot: one with a lid that doubles as a small pan is great
  • matches (in a waterproof container) or a flint
  • bowl
  • mug
  • dishwashing liquid, sponge, drying cloth
  • camera
  • GPS
  • toiletries
  • medical aid kit
    • plasters
    • bandage
    • antiseptic
    • burn dressing
    • headache tablets / painkillers, anti-inflammatories
    • allergy tablets
    • Imodium
    • needle, tweezers
    • eye drops
    • space blanket
  • 1 x dinner:
  • 2 x lunch:
    • Lunch 1: rolls, cold meat & cheese
    • Lunch 2: ready prepared home-made pasta salad
  • 4 x tea break snacks
    • biscuits
    • Provita & cheese wedges
    • biltong, dried fruit & nuts
    • chocolate, energy sweets
  • tea / coffee / milk / condensed milk
    • the little 3-in-1 coffee sachets are very convenient (you get hot-chocolate as well)
    • you could easily pack a stove-top espresso maker
    • consider taking powdered milk or decant the milk into something like a  Platypus SoftBottle — milk will not survive being shaken about in a canteen for 2 days
  • energy drink: Game does the job nicely and comes in handy foilene packs that make a litre each
  • a splash of your favourite tipple, decanted (again: a  Platypus SoftBottle is unbeatable for this); brandy and sherry are my favourites
  • Spork
  • sharp knife: I carry an Opinel No.09 Knife

Try to share as much as you can amongst your group: camp-stoves, condiments, toothpaste. Repackage, decant, and remove as much unnecessary packaging as possible. These Platypus SoftBottles are perfect for milk, and other more important beverages.


Outdoor adventure enthusiast living on the Garden Route.