16 Things Not to Pack for Hiking

DISCLAIMER: due to some of the content from comments made on this blog post, I’ve decided to add this disclaimer.

first of all, my reasoning for this article is mainly geared at hikers who are looking up cut weight. If you were with your children, other hikers, or have more needs than most, these tips may not be for you.

The Internet is hard to interpret sometimes. For example, I suggested that you don’t take as much water with you. What I mean by that is to only take the amount of water that you need to take rather than taking too much. When I first started hiking I used to take too much water, and it did significant problems with my back. That’s why I always recommend folks buy a water filter, test their water filter, and know how to use it before they go outdoors with it. And you should also check the local weather to make sure creeks and what not have water in them. 

some of these items are going to be a must for some people to take, and that’s perfectly fine. Don’t take my article to heart. Thank you for reading and thank you for your comments.


There are many things not to pack for hiking, and there are things you’ll always need to pack.

Many people make the mistake of packing things they shouldn’t pack. It’s no wonder I can even walk today because my backpack was about as heavy as a car when I first started hiking.

Not packing the stuff you don’t need can help improve your hiking experience.

But first, you need to know what not to pack for hiking, and that’s why I wrote this article.

Why Consider These Things Not to Pack for Hiking?

Packing too much can do various negative things that you should consider before you start hiking.

Too much stuff will weigh you down. That means you’ll get tired easily. It could also set you up for an injury by having too much weight on your back and shoulders. Weight isn’t always a good thing when you’re hiking for recreation.

Another issue is that too much stuff can damage your gear. If you smother your gear with too many items, it might break in your pack. Packing too much will also put more pressure and wear on your backpack, which could lead to tears and rips.

So, it’s a good idea to determine what things to not pack for hiking to protect you and your gear and make your hike more enjoyable.

Things Not to Pack for Hiking

Leave this Stuff at Home!

Do you really need any of the stuff listed below? I bet you don’t.


1 – Valuables and Jewelry

Valuables, jewelry, and makeup are items you should not pack for hiking.

If you lose some of these things, it can turn into a crisis. If you leave them in your car overnight while backpacking, they could get broken into and the items stolen. I’d recommend leaving it at home.

You don’t need to look good on the trail.


2 – Heavy Lenses for Cameras

It’s okay to bring a camera, but do you need lens options?

I’m a photographer, and we all have that one lens that works for everything. Why not just bring that one lens instead of every single kind of lens you could image for different types of shots?

Are you hiking or doing professional photography?


3 – Too Much Extra Anything

There is very much such thing as too many extras.

Do you need several rolls of TP? I’ll admit it, I poop more in the woods than I do at home, but one roll of toilet paper lasts me about 3 weeks of hiking trips. If it doesn’t work for you – maybe take a trip to the doctor before your hike!

Sometimes extra is too much.


4 – Heavy Clothing

Do you need to bring jeans with you?

Don’t pack or wear heavy clothing! Hiking clothes are lightweight, and they can even keep you warm. This is why spandex is my go-to choice for apparel. It’s not flattering by any means, but it’s practically weightless.

Spare clothes and layers shouldn’t be heavy.


5 – Too Many Shoes

You really need to have one pair, the ones on your feet.

People bring an extra pair for camp. They bring a pair for creek crossings. I bring neoprene padded socks for creek crossings. I wear the boots or shoes I’m wearing on the trail and at camp.

Leave your closet at home where it’s supposed to be left.


6 – Bulky Items

Sometimes going cheap means getting bigger things.

Weirdly, many of the cheaper hiking things are bigger and bulkier. You’d think lighter things would be less expensive. Sometimes though, you need to pay a little more to have less bulk.

Bulk means more weight on your back and shoulders.


7 – Books

Books are for libraries, not hiking trails.

Do you really need hiking guidebooks? Can’t you just print something out or write it on paper? Carrying around books sounds like something you’d do to help you stay in shape and lose weight. I think you might want to reconsider that for the hiking trail.

After a long day of hiking, I don’t desire to sit down for a good read.


8 – An Actual Pillow

Comfort doesn’t have to be your bed.

People bring pillows on their hikes. Full pillows! Pillows don’t seem heavy until you stuff them into a backpack and realize they will take up the majority of the space in your pack. Then they start to get a little heavier than you thought.

Invest in a camp pillow. It’s flat and lightweight until you blow it up with your mouth.


9 – Too Much Kitchen Stuff

Do you need that many kitchen items on your hike?

Eat and drink from the same cooking cup. Use the same spork for everything. My kitchen has a pocket rocket stove, a small fuel canister, a cooking cup, and a spork. I can pack it all together nicely, too.

Leave your kitchen in the kitchen where it belongs.


10 – Extreme Survival Tools

It’s okay to have waterproof matches, but do you need an animal trap?

Preppers and extreme survivalists sell all sorts of crazy tools. These tools are often heavy, bulky, and weird to try to pack. And you’ll probably never use them, even when the apocalypse comes.

Take practical survival tools, not novelty items.


11 – Huge First Aid Kit

Are you sure you need that trauma kit for a hiking trip?

Don’t take an entire first aid kit. Take enough for you and a friend. Take only the things that you know how to use. If the injury is too bad, you need to get help rather than trying to be Dr. Feel Good!

You’re a hiker, not a hospital.


12 – Folding Chair

This is what I call comfort to the extreme.

Even if your folding chair is carbon fiber, it’s a bit too much. Sit down on a downed tree, a rock, or the ground. Do you really need a chair out in nature? I mean, why not just pack a cot instead of a sleeping pad?

It’s okay to sit on nature. It won’t bite…unless you sit on something that will bite.


13 – Huge Weapons

Take it easy, Terminator; it’s just a hiking trail.

If you’re packing a fire extinguisher-size bear spray can, a sword, or an AR-15 to defend yourself in the wild – you’re probably going to trip over that stuff and hurt yourself before anyone or anything else does. Why not just a simple bear spray can? How about a pocket knife? What about a small compact handgun?

Are you a hiker, or are you, Rambo?


14 – Shower Bladders

Just be stinky, for the love of all things clean.

Don’t pack a shower bladder for your backpacking trip. Take some wet wipes or wash them off in a creek. Save the shower for when you get home after a long hike as your reward for doing it.

It’s okay to stink – we all do out in the woods.


15 – Too Much Water and Foods

There is such a thing as too much food and water.

Your heaviest item should be your water; you should bring enough to last a few days if you must ration it. But that’s limited to a few bottles and maybe a hydration bladder. But if you’re filling your bag with a week’s worth of food and water, you’re going to an extreme.

Use small carb-loaded trail bars instead and pack a water filter.


16 – Too Big of a Backpack (or too little)

And finally, of all the things not to pack for hiking comes your backpack.

If you carry a backpack that’s too big, it adds extra weight and invites you to fill it up. But on the other hand, carrying all your necessities in a backpack that is too small for everything can lead to problems. Ensure that you choose the right backpack for the right amount of gear.

And always try to put comfort before pocket options on a backpack.


And there you have it! That was the items not to pack for hiking. Avoid packing the stuff above, and you’ll have a great time while on the trail. But if you pack all the stuff above, you’ll run into problem after problem on and off the trail. If you enjoyed this article, consider subscribing to my free monthly newsletter for more hiking tips. Thanks for reading, and be sure to leave a comment and share this post with others.

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Thanks again for checking out another one of my articles and until next time, I’ll see you on the trail!

Shawn Gossman

Shawn Gossman

Founder, Hiking with Shawn

Howdy folks! My name is Shawn Gossman and I founded Hiking with Shawn. I’m an avid hiker, cyclist and outdoorsman here in the Shawnee National Forest. I was born and raised in Southern Illinois and never want to leave. Click here to learn more about Shawn Gossman

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