The Ultimate Packing List for Female Solo Hikers
Picking the right gear and clothing is always important. But when you have to carry everything in your backpack with no way to fix wrong choices, the choosing process is so much more serious and anxiety-causing.
Packing list for hiking in Spain in February
In a few weeks, I’m going for two weeks hiking in Spain. I will first spend one day site seeing Barcelona and then move on to hike solo along the GR 1 trail Sendero Historico.
[EDIT: I have changed my plans after realizing it would be much too cold on the GR 1 trail. Read about what other choices I had near Barcelona here.]
I will be there for the first time in my life – I do not know the trail and I have very little experience with Spanish climate.
I have been gathering information on it, of course, but I still am not 100% sure of what to expect. It seems that the temperatures during the day may range from 5*C to even above 15*C. It should not drop below freezing temperatures during the night (here is hoping!).
I need to be prepared for a wide range of possible weather conditions. I do want to go as light as possible, but I also don’t want to do something stupid like freeze ;-)
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As much as I wish, I can’t go ultra-light just yet.
My backpack – although great, is pretty heavy. I plan on slowly exchanging my gear to lighter versions.
What I can do is to take the absolute minimum in terms of clothing – just one short-sleeve shirt, one with long sleeves.
As I’m not certain about the day/night temperatures, I still can’t decide on the warmer clothes. I will keep monitoring the changing weather around the area where I am hiking to see what it’s like. I might make a change in the packing list a day or two before – I hope not for the worse.
Below is my packing list as it is now. After I come back I will make sure to report and review – what worked well and what didn’t. That’s the best way to learn: from own mistakes – or good choices.
I hope it can be also useful for you - no matter if you are heading to Spain or not :) This is basically a 3-season packing list for women hiking and camping solo.
I tried to find same or similar items for reference – some of them are discontinued or older versions of whatever is in stores now. I provide also some alternative choices of similar, high-quality options for you to check out.
Packing list: Clothes
Long-sleeved merino base layer – Devold (any merino base layer by reputable producer would be good). Why merino? Read here on the benefits and amazing qualities of merino wool.
Short-sleeved merino base layer – Devold.
Long-sleeved synthetic base layer - Arc'teryx
Short-sleeved synthetic top - Rab and Arc'teryx
Take a look below at some high-quality examples for base layer items for women:
Can’t see anything? Try refreshing the page.
Long-sleeved stretch light jacket (Salomon) - "AdvancedSkin warm" thin stretchy jacket w synthetic insulation, with hood.
Long-sleeved half-zip shirt by The North Face Flight Series. It's a warm running shirt with thin fleece fabric and well-ventilated sections. It could be used as a warmer base layer, I guess, but I like it for hiking in cold weather.
Long-sleeved synthetic or down insulated light jacket - Those kind of jackets are extremely versatile and can be stuffed in your backpack with no problems. Sometimes useful to hike in them, sometimes to keep warm during breaks or at camp during chilly night. I have a lovely Salomon synthetic jacket and a Rab down hoodie.
Check some of your insulating options below:
Rain Jacket - I have Marmot PreCip and can highly recommend it. This jacket has pit zippers – really great to provide ventilation. I had it last summer in Scotland and it served me well.
Take a look at some fantastic rainproof jackets for women below:
Thermal Tights – I got a pair from the North Face. I’m not sure I will need them, I will sleep in them and wear them in a case of really cold days.
Trousers (North Face) – Quick-drying and lightweight with zip-off legs, very comfortable and stretchy. I can't remember what is the name of the model I have, which is a pity as I absolutely love them!
Sports bra – Icebreaker made of merino wool. It’s a new bra that I will be testing. Last season I had a synthetic Arc’teryx bra.
I liked it, just trying something new now. When choosing backpacking bra remember to choose one where the straps won't rub under your backpack's straps.
Underwear - I'm taking two pairs of merino wool (Icebreaker) and a pair of synthetic Arc’teryx Phase SL series, which are new to me and will be testing them. I will see if I prefer merino or synthetic.
Socks - My system to prevent blisters is to wear two layers of socks. First a very thin synthetic pair, then a merino-wool pair. So, I'm taking two pairs of thin Coolmax liners and three merino, by Bridgedale and Smartwool.
Buff – what a simple, yet genius idea! I have four of them: two classic buffs made of microfiber and two made of merino wool. I've been using the merino wool instead of a hat all winter and love it!
Gloves – Two pairs: one very thin runners’ gloves and one merino Bridgedale.
Boots – Salomon Quest 4D. I loved them from the start. I don’t want to switch to trail runners just yet, my backpack is still a bit too heavy for that. And anyway, they just fit me so well I don’t really want to change into anything else! If you want to find out why I love my Solomon Quest 4D boots, read this review :).
The second pair of shoes. I'm still unsure about that. It's good to have a "base camp" pair - flip flops or sandals. I have a pair of Keens and love them, but they are heavy… still not sure.
Hat - helpful both against the sun as well as rain. I've been using this one although I look somewhat dorky in it :P
Take a good care of your feet:
Packing list: hiking and camping gear
Backpack and Packing
Backpack - You can read my review of the Deuter Aircontact I've been using here. Depending on other things you carry and the length of your trip, you should be able to fit into a backpack that's under 50l. Make sure it fits you well!
Packing bags - I take a few different dry and compression bags to help me stay organized and keep my stuff dry. I have a number of them in different sizes, really great thing.
<<< On the left you can click through some of the best backpacking packs for women on the market now.
Trekking poles - an absolute must! They are life-savers. You can read all about the benefits of hiking with trekking poles here. The ones I'm using are made by a small local company, but you can find great options out there.
Gaiters – Deuter low ones. Good for protecting the boots and pants from mud and dirt.
Waterproof map cover
Tent - I'm using (2017) a Vango tent and you can read my review here.
EDIT: I recently bought an ultra-light tent by TarpTent (Double Rainbow) but haven't had a chance to use it yet. Stay tuned for a review! :) Edit 2: the review of TarpTent Double Rainbow is here!
Sleeping mat - self-inflatable Vango mat. [EDIT: I got for myself Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite for women and I can't be happier with it. You can read my review here!)
Sleeping bag - Robert’s Custom-made down sleeping bag (800g, 850 cuin). It is made by a small Polish company, from the best quality products, including the world-famous Polish geese down. I can't wait to try it! [Edit: the sleeping bag is awesome :) I'll get summer version, too!]
You can find some high-quality sleeping bags for women below:
Stove - This time I'm trying the MSR pocket rocket, last time I had a solid-fuel Esbit stove.
Long titanium spoon
Pot – Esbit. I am switching to a gas stove for this trip, but I'm taking the Esbit pot that was part of solid-fuel/alcohol stove.
You can learn more about your camping cookware options in this article.
Mug - I use a GSI light hiker mug. It's awesome, I even use it at work all the time.
Water filtration system - Mini-Sawyer water filter – I highly recommend it.
Here is my most recent (Winter 2018) cooking and coffee-making setup:
Camera – Sony DSC rx100m3 - my review here. Absolutely the best compact hiking camera. It's small but the photo quality is astonishing.
Kindle - I love it. I see it as a necessary backpacking item - I have not only my books on it but also guidebooks, important info on insurance, bus timetables etc.
Phone with GPS and map
Power Bank & cords
GPS watch or device - if you can afford them, they can be really helpful
First Aid Kit
Headlamp + extra batteries
Notebook + Pen
Towel, pee-rug, fast-drying kitchen towel, highly absorbing foam-rug to get dew or raindrops off the tent.
A few bags for garbage etc.
Personal hygiene: toothbrush/toothpaste, face cream, Cetaphil (absolutely best product for sensitive skin, I don't even consider not taking it), biodegradable soap, menstrual cup, insect repellent, sunscreen, lip balm, hand cream