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17 Top Overnight Hiking Packing List Items for 2024 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring

Overnight hike
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There’s nothing more refreshing than getting out of town for a quick connection with the wilderness, even if you only have one night available. It’s important with a quick trip like this, to just pack the essentials you’ll be carrying every item you bring with you!

Keeping your pack as lightweight as possible, while also bringing along everything you’ll need is challenging, so I’ve created this overnight hike packing list of 17 must-haves for an ultimate overnight hike. I’ve also included tips on what to wear on an overnight hike, what NOT to bring with you, and answers to FAQs.

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What to Pack for an Overnight Hike – 17 Essentials

  • 1. Poncho

    Weather is unpredictable, so my motto is to be prepared for anything. The Terra Hiker waterproof poncho is an easy item to pack because it is very compact and lightweight. It’s also large enough to cover a backpack, so that stays dry as well. The material on this poncho is more durable than the cheaper ones I’ve used in the past, so that it doesn’t rip or blow around in the wind as much. Hope for sun, but be prepared for rain by bringing this poncho along on your hike.


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  • 2. LifeStraw Water Bottle

    If you’re hiking near water, you have the fortune to not need to carry as much heavy water with you. Instead, bring the LifeStraw Go Water Filter Bottle and you can fill up water from a lake or stream or tap water facucet and turn questionable water into highly filtered potable water. The hollow fiber membrane filter removes 99.9% of bacteria and parasites. It also reduces pesticides and chlorine that might be present in the unfiltered water. This item is a big must-have on hikes and camping trips in our house.

    LifeStraw Water Bottle

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  • 3. Paracord Bracelet

    These bracelets are becoming quite popular as survival tools in the wilderness, and this one by A2S Protection has even more power to the punch. Not only does it have the cording that can be used for numerous situations that arise, but it’s a compass, flint fire starter, fire scrapper, small emergency knife, and emergency whistle all rolled into one. Skip by the basic version, and go for this 5-in-1 survival tool for just a couple dollars more. Worth every penny if you get into a pickle.

    Paracord Bracelet

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  • 4. Hiking Socks

    You will thank me later—wear one pair, and bring another. This is probably my single best advice I can give someone who’s going on an overnight hike. Who knows when you’ll step in that opportune puddle, or a rain burst will open up? If you settle for regular, run-of-the-mill socks during your outing, you will undoubtedly wear out the fabric, causing a blister to form. On top of that, depending on the time of year, your feet may not stay as warm as you desire. Get this 3 pack of Innotree hiking socks to ensure a warm, dry, and comfortable experience on the trail. I can’t go hiking without them.

    Three pack socks

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  • 5. Solar Phone Charger

    It’s doubtful you will find an outlet along the trail, but you will have plenty of sun! Ditch the usual powercord and bring this Blavor Solar Phone charger instead. It doesn’t take up much space, has a lower price point than most, and fits most of the newer versions of iPhone and Samsung models. Since your phone can double as a flashlight and compass, as well as contact 911 if needed, you won’t want to lose charge. You’ll also be helping the environment by going green!

    solar charger

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  • 6. Pocket Knife

    You’ll encounter numerous times a pocket knife will come in handy while you’re on the overnight hike. The Smith and Wesson Extreme Ops is sturdy, made of Black Oxide High Carbon Stainless Steel. The blade is a generous 3 inches, and the pocket clip makes it quickly accessible. And don’t worry; there’s a liner lock for safety. Definitely bring this on your hike!

    Pocket Knife

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  • 7. Blister Balm

    No matter how avid of a hiker you are, you’re bound to get some blisters every now and then from the repetitive motion and uneven terrain. However, using a product like Body Glide Blister Balm before you put on your shoes will minimize any blisters that might be headed your way. I’ve used this product in many situations, and I always thank myself later. A bonus feature is that the Vitamin A and C that are in the formula help to soften and soothe already chaffed feet.

    Anti-blister balm

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  • 8. Headlamp

    Having a hands-free light with you will be so convenient when the sun goes down. This LED headlamp by Foxelli is waterproof and has an extra long battery life, which will last you the full evening. They are so sure you’ll love it that they offer a money back guarantee. No more struggling to do things one-handed in the dark; just wear this Foxelli headlamp and you’re good to go.


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  • 9. Solid Shampoo

    Solid shampoo has been one of the best overnight hiking buys. It is small, can be used for hand washing and if you have access to water, can be used as shampoo. Plus, it minimizes your use of plastic and liquids. I chose this one from Love Beauty and Planet because it smells incredible and is infused with coconut water. I suggest putting it into a baggie so that if it’s wet, it won’t get on other things in your pack.

    Solid Shampoo

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  • 10. Hand Sanitizer Spray

    If you’re hiking and have limited access to water, iGuard hand sanitizing spray by Minteer Formulas is a wonderful option to keep the germs away. Use it before eating, after using the restroom, and anytime in-between. I love how this has a lid that can clip on to the outside of my backpack, allowing for extra space (even though this is very small!) and easy access. This pack will last quite some time; over 600 sprays! Use iGuard to keep yourself healthy and safe on your overnight hike.

    Hand Sanitizer Spray

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  • 11. Quick-Dry Hiking Pant

    Whether it’s sweat or rain or river water, you’re likely to get wet at some point on your hike. No one enjoys walking around in wet clothing, so try to wear a quick dry pant that converts to shorts, which kills two birds with one stone if it ends up being too hot outside. These Jesse Kidden pants are lightweight and have several pockets for essentials. One of the most important things to keep you going with a positive attitude is comfort, which these definitely provide.


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  • 12. Insect Repellent

    Nothing will BUG you more than pesky insects who tag along on your hike. Repel them with a repellent that has DEET for maximum effectiveness. Cutter has this very small spray that won’t add weight it’s less than half an ounce! I was pleasantly surprised to find that the smell is light and the feel on the skin is not greasy nor sticky. Easy to put into a pant pocket. Use this repellent to create a barrier against irritating bugs that can spoil the outdoors.

    Insect Repellent

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  • 13. Waterproof Matches

    Maybe your matches fall into a lake. Or, more likely, an afternoon shower dampens your gear. In either case, you’ll benefit from bringing along waterproof matches instead of the run-of-the-mill kind. Just bring a small pack of these Coghlan’s waterproof matches to avoid the catastrophe of a fire-less evening. One of the most rewarding parts of hiking is that crackling sound that complements the delicious smoky scent in the air; a relaxing way to end a long day of hiking. Don’t miss a single flame.

    Waterproof Matches

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  • 14. Neck Wallet

    I like to keep the most important things close to me, so I use this Hero Neck Wallet under my shirt with my identification and emergency information. This would also be a good place to store a dose of prescription medicine if necessary. Anything you simply DON’T want to lose along the way, and/or want to conceal, use a neck wallet to guard your belongings. The heavy duty fabric and YKK zippers will endure your hike without a problem. It also comes with a lifetime replacement guarantee for peace of mind. No matter where my family goes, I am always wearing this under my shirt for safe keeping.

    hero neck wallet

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  • 15. Hiking Backpack

    A good backpack is something you can use over and over again, so make sure to find one that will last a long time. Choose one that has several easy access compartments, is lightweight, and has durable fabric and zippers. My current favorite is by Mountaintop. The adjustable hip belt takes the strain off my shoulders. It’s the perfect size for an overnight hike; not too big, not too small. One of the compartments can hold a small sleeping bag. As I’ve said, comfort is key to success on an overnight hike, so I’m picky about which backpack to bring, and this one passes the test.

    Hiking Backpack

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  • 16. Sleeping Bag

    The number one thing that will weigh you down (besides water), is your sleeping bag. Finding a lightweight one that is waterproof and durable is challenging, but look no further…Oaskys has one that is all of those things, plus comes with a compression bag and straps so that you can attach it to your pack. So much better than that bulky one you had as a child! Tip: This is only for Spring, Summer and Fall. Winter overnight hiking is a whole ‘nother level.

    Sleeping Bag

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  • 17. Extra Small Tent

    You may decide to sleep under the stars—on some occasions, I’m right there with you! But if you want a little more outdoor protection, the smallest tent possible is always best. Remember, it’s all about the weight of your pack that determines comfortability, so choosing the most compact, lightweight tent is best. There are many out there, but the smallest one yet that has a super easy set up is from Go Time Gear. This mini tent weighs about half a pound! It’s meant for survival and emergencies, which makes it perfect for inclement weather and an on-the-go overnight hike. Sleep under the stars if you desire…but keep this handy in case of a sudden rain shower!

    Extra Small Tent

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What to Wear for an Overnight Hiking

You won’t need much because it’s only one night, so wear what you’re comfortable with in the current weather, and plan for a cooler evening. Always check the forecast. Having one set of clothes with you in case of an emergency is really all you’ll need; space is precious in your pack, after all! Wearing layers is also a good idea, because it’s easy to take off an extra item as you go. Below is the breakdown of what to wear and pack for your outdoor adventure. Pro tip: Roll the clothing to make it fit easier in your backpack.

What Women Should Wear for an overnight hike – (Click to expand)
Below is a sample women’s clothing list. (All items link to for your convenience).

What Men Should Wear for an overnight hike – (Click to expand)
Below is a sample men’s clothing list. (All items link to for your convenience).

What NOT to bring on an Overnight Hiking

  • 1.DON’T PACK books

    download an E-book onto your phone if you want to read in the evening, but don’t take a physical book with you.

  • 2.DON’T PACK valuables

    DON’T no need to carry the extra weight of things that you won’t need. A little cash and a credit card for emergencies should be all you need.

  • 3.DON’T BRING too many clothes

    you may be tempted to bring extra items, but less is more when you’re carrying everything yourselfON’T since you’re only gone one night, you won’t be going too far; full survival gear mode is not necessary! Just the essentials.

  • 4.DON’T BRING gear you won’t use

    DON’T since you’re only gone one night, you won’t be going too far; full survival gear mode is not necessary! Just the essentials.

  • 5.DON’T TAKE a bath towel:

    DON’T the face and body wipes will work wonders instead. Having a super small quick drying towel is sufficient for this length of a trip.

  • 6.DON’T TAKE dense foods

    DON’T you’ll want to pack some food to keep your energy up, but keep in mind the weight of the items. Applesauce pouches are deceptively heavy, for example!

What clothing should I NOT wear on an overnight hike – (Click to expand)
Formal attire: For obvious reasons, this will not only be uncomfortable, but the items could get ruined on the overnight. You’re not headed to a gala, so save those ensembles for another night.

Jeans: The jean material doesn’t allow for the flexibility and breathability you’ll want on your hike. Choose lightweight cotton items or quick-dry items instead of heavy jean material.

strong Bulky clothing: You’ll want ease of movement, so don’t let anything get in the way of that! Dress in layers, and don’t over pack.

Non-breathable fabric: From head to toe, you’re likely to work up a sweat while hiking. Quick-dry fabrics will be your best friend. Consider your footwear choices, too—some shoes have a more breathable design than others. This one by Flarut is an example of a breathable hiking boot, if your hike is mild to moderate.

Uncomfortable shoes: A few days before your hike, wear your shoes for a day or two to see how they feel. You won’t want to find out 3 hours into your hike, that they rub your foot the wrong way. You can bring along a couple pieces of moleskin just in case.

Jewelry: Anything that hangs off your body could get tangled up as you traverse the wilderness. Not only that, but it’s (although slight) extra weight that is unnecessary. You wouldn’t want to lose an earring or bracelet either; even retracing your steps, it would be nearly impossible to locate a small lost item. Focus on nature, breathe in the fresh air, and worry about jewelry when you return home.

FAQs about an Overnight Hiking

  • 1. Where should I go for an overnight hike?

    It’s important to keep in mind how far you think you’ll go in a day. 10 miles or 5? Pick a hike that has an obtainable distance, and keep in mind if you’ll need water along the way LifeStraw Water Bottle fill-ups. Consider any wildlife you may encounter. Reading the ratings/reviews of different areas online is quite valuable in case there are recent changes in the zone you are planning on. Lastly, find out if you need any permits for where you are going rains.

  • 2. What should I eat on an overnight hike?

    Snacks: Beef jerkey, trail mix, granola bars, dried fruit.
    Dinner: Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chips, tuna pouch.
    Breakfast: Dried granola, dried fruit, cereal bars.
    Tip: Freeze a couple string cheese and/or yogurt tubes, and they will stay cold for a few hours on day one.

  • 3. What are the most popular activities to do on an overnight hike?

    In the evening, when the hiking is over and it’s time to relax, one of my favorite things to do is study the stars on a clear night. There are apps, such as Star Walk, that can be your guide to what’s above. Listening to an Ebook is also a calming evening activity if you’re alone. If you’re with others, playing a game of cards and swapping stories around the campfire is a simple way to create new memories and laugh about the old ones.

  • 4. Can I take my children on an overnight hike?

    Of course! Remember that their needs may be different than yours, so pack different items as needed. The number one thing that might become an issue is what they are carrying. Children have less stamina for carrying a pack for long distances. If this is your first overnight hike with children, plan for a short adventure and see how that one goes first.

  • 5. Do I need to bring a tent?

    Not necessarily. Some areas are great for just sleeping under the stars.Other places, a hammock such as this one by Kootek will be a comfy choice. Just consider the weather, what time of year it is, and how much you want to carry with you. Of course, the super small Go Time Gear tent would be easy to bring along just in case something comes up.

  • 6. What should I do if it rains?

    If you have your poncho with you (large enough to cover your backpack) and it’s a light rain, you can keep on hiking, unless it is a steep incline. Of course, lightning is a different story. In that case, take cover and wait it out. When you’re planning where to put your tent at night, make sure to not make it at the bottom of a hill, where all the water will run down to. If it starts to get cold, use your hand warmers to heat yourself up until you can light a fire. As soon as the rain lets up, try to get dry as fast as possible to minimize discomfort.

  • 7. Is it okay to hike solo?

    When the still quietness of the outdoors calls to you, it’s okay to follow the lullaby and have time for introspection. A lot can be accomplished in one’s mind on a solo overnight hike. However, it’s very important to consider a few factors, such as your age, overall health, wildlife of the area, cell phone reception, and trail difficulty. As attractive as it may be to get out and get some peace and quiet, playing it safe and bringing a buddy may help you out in the long run. You also may want to ask a couple of people who know you best what their opinions are, just in case you’re forgetting any important considerations. Hiking solo and hiking with a pal both have benefits, so either way, you’ll have an excellent journey.