Packing can be tricky for multi-day hikes. Since everything must be carried on your back, people typically ask themselves things like: Am I packing too little? Too much? Will it be too heavy? What equipment is best? In an attempt to combat these questions, I’ve created a comprehensive packing list for multi-day treks through the rainforest.
Please note: this advice applies to guided hikes where food and sleeping arrangements are provided.
Specifically, this is the packing list I created for my 5 day trek to Ciudad Perdida (The Lost City) in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range. This guided trek was booked through G Adventures.
1.) Backpack with a rain fly. I am carrying the Osprey Kyte 36. Since food and hammocks are provided, my 36 liter backpack is the perfect size for this 5 day hike. A few features of this backpack include: a rainfly to keep your pack dry during potential rain showers, mesh stretch side pockets perfect for keeping your water bottle handy, and a foam back panel which will make carrying this load easier.
2.) Mosquito Repellent – In the rainforest, mosquitos are plentiful, therefore it is extremely important you are well prepared. I highly suggest Repel 100 Insect Repellent, which is 98.11% Deet and will last up to 10 hours. I also bought Sawyer Insect Repellent, which is used for spraying clothing and gear to keep bugs away. One coating will last up to 6 weeks, or 6 washes.
3.) Footwear – When hiking through the rainforest, your shoes are bound to get wet. Make sure to pack some waterproof hiking shoes. I love my KEEN Newport H2 Sandals. They are super comfortable and sturdy for hiking.
4.) Sleep Sheet – Hammocks are provided on this hike, however it is recommended to carry your own sleep sheet for sanitary reasons and for another layer to ward off bugs. I am bringing Cocoon Cotton Travel Sheet which is much lighter than a bed sheet and folds up very nicely making it easy to store.
5.) Clothing – Quick drying clothing is key here. Hiking pants are preferred, to protect more skin from bug bites, however it can get super hot and shorts might be more comfortable. I own REI Convertible Pants which can be worn as long pants or capris and are made of 95% nylon. For T-shirts, C9 Champion® Women’s Tech T-Shirts are great because they are made of moisture wicking material to keep you dry and comfortable. Other clothing items to remember: a fleece top for lower nighttime temps, sleeping clothing, swim wear, socks (merino wool), and underwear. Bring a separate plastic bag to keep the clothing you haven’t worn dry from wet clothing you may be carrying.
6.) Light raincoat – If you are hiking during the rainy season, bring a light raincoat to keep dry during rain showers. I carry a small raincoat that folds up nicely in a little bag. Its super lightweight and gets the job done.
7.) Camera & Memory Cards -This should be #1 on the list. Santa was super nice to me this year and gave me a Sony DSCRX100 M2, which has an F/1.8 lens and captures HD quality video. I am also carrying a GoPro HERO4 BLACK which gives the ability to take wide angle photos and photos in the water. Throw a few 16GB SanDisk memory cards in your camera case. It is better to have too much memory than not enough.
9.) Water Bottle & LifeStraw – The 32 oz. REI Nalgene Narrow-Mouth Loop-Top Water Bottle is great for drinking while walking and it fits nicely in the Osprey Kyte side pockets. Another beneficial item to have is the LifeStraw Water Filter, which allows you to drink straight from streams and rivers.
10.) Cup & Cooking Items: Having your own cup to drink out of is nice for sanitary reasons. The Sea to Summit X-Mugs are collapsible and hardly take up any space. On this particular hike, food is provided, however, the Snow Peak GigaPower Auto Stove is perfect for backpackers as it is very lightweight and compact. If you’d rather cook your own food, this auto stove is hands down the way to go.
11.) Currency – In case of an emergency, ensure you have both your home currency and the local currency on hand.
12.) Flashlight/Headlamp – Pack a flashlight/headlamp for trips to the bathroom and reading. I am carrying the DULEX®1000 Lumens Flashlight. The lighting is pretty powerful for the size and the flashlight came with two extra batteries when ordered on Amazon. I also have a few headlamps for reading at night.
13.) Travel Towel – Find a small travel towel that is quick drying for cooling off in the river and for showers. I am carrying a hot yoga towel made of 80% polyester and 20% nylon.
14.) Book/Journal – I like to pack a journal to document my experiences. Also pack a book for any downtime or to read at night before bed. On this hike I will be reading The Alchemist by Paul Coelho.
15.) Toiletries – Pack shampoo, conditioner, soap, sunblock, and aloe in a ziplock bag to avoid any spills. Also make sure to pack a role of toilet paper. If ticks are common where you are hiking, throw in a pair of tweezers for tick removal.
16.) Sunnies – Bring your favorite and most comfortable pair of shades.
17.) Documents – It is important to carry a copy of your passport, flight info, medical records, etc. in case of emergency.
18.) First Aid Kit/Medicines – These can be picked up at REI or bought on Amazon.
19.) Portable Battery Pack – Keep your phone on airplane mode to preserve battery life, and bring a portable battery pack (or three) to keep your electronics charged. I purchased the Compact External Battery Portable USB Charger Power Bank which can charge your iphone four times!
20.) Walking Stick (not pictured) – This depends on personal preference. Some might find the hike easier with a walking stick, especially downhill.
21.) Dry Bag – During rainy season, rivers can be chest high. If your hike includes river crossings, pack a dry bag to keep your belongings from getting soaked.
22.) Waterproofer – If any of your gear (shoes, tent, backpack, etc) isnt waterproof, pick up some silicone waterproofer from any sports store, amazon, or REI.
23.) Energy Bars/ Gatorade Mix – In case you run out of energy while hiking and need a quick pick-me-up, pack a few energy bars and Gatorade mix for your water.
24.) Binoculars – The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range is home to over 600 different species of birds. Bring binoculars for potential sightings of Black-fronted Wood-Quail, Andean Condor, and the Santa Marta Parakeet.
What do you find helpful on multi-day rainforest hikes? Is there anything you recommend to add to the list?