17 Adventurers Share How They Pack for Long Distance Hiking (1,000+ km Hikes)

Packing for a 1,000+ kilometer hike requires some tough choices.

Just how much do you really need to bring, how do you avoid packing way too much stuff and should you pack in a wagon or try to carry everything?

To improve how we pack, we have talked with 17 experienced long distance hikers and asked them to share their best advice.

Read on and learn from their best tips and tricks (all 17 have walked and runned thousands of kilometers, so they know what they are talking about!).

The 17 Adventurers

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

  • Talcum powder, great for sweaty/rubbing areas.
  • Mirrored sunglasses, great for taking off and looking at yourself on very long distances when you want a bit of company.
  • Handheld Dictaphone for recording observational notes especially useful in the rain when a notebook would get wet. I have also pretended it is a Police radio when being harassed in the American mid-west and would “radio-in” the suspects licence plate number. Worked every time.

Useless thing I wouldn’t use myself: Water bag with pipe into the mouth, seems to make people pee a lot more often.

Bonus item: One of the most effective forms of personal protection I had was that I wore a wedding ring. It seemed to bring out the best in men who might have had other intentions.

How do you bring things with you?

Have used Karrimore and Blacks rucksacks with internal frames. They are still going. I always pack them with the heaviest things on the top, bulkiest on the bottom, so my shoulders are carrying the weight and not my hips which need to be free to move; makes me feel more powerful too which is a good vibe for a woman on her own to be giving off. I also have a bum bag round the front for water bottle, sunglasses, etc. I never carry things in my hands. I also used an off-road pram (baby stroller) when I couldn’t carry a pack, which worked very well.

What are your top tips for other long-distance walkers?

I think a journey begins in your heart. It rises from there and needs you to clear away the practical obsticales in it’s way so that it can take you to what it senses is out there. It’s love really, that’s why we need to do it.

Visit Ffyona Campbell’s website

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

I’m coming from a background in four-season, transcontinental walks – mountain wilderness, big cities, suburbs, farm country, red-rock desert, floods, high summer, deep winter, unfamiliar faraway places, the works. I’ve also done a bunch of smaller-scale trips around the world in between.

I don’t think I pack anything out of the ordinary. People who do similar things most likely use the same sort of gear. On the other hand, I’ve never actually inventoried another four-season transcontinental walker’s possessions in detail, and the number of people in the entire world who do this sort of thing is small, so even wrapping my head around what qualifies as “the common stuff everybody brings” is a little strange.

My impression is that gear on long-distance walks isn’t about bringing unusual stuff: it’s about figuring out which details and design variations in the basic stuff matter to you, and ultimately having a high tolerance for gear that doesn’t function the way you wish it would. The boots will give you blisters. The tent will condense and leak. Electronics will fail. You keep on keeping on and take a chance on adventure.

One personal preference for me is that I generally like flexible, non-waterproof boots with high ankles, so long as I’m not carrying a heavy pack over sharp rock. For whatever reason, mass-market recreational outdoor boots tend not to be built this way. Military boots are, but then it’s tricky to find a pair that fit and that use good quality materials. I keep dreaming of learning to make my own shoes.

How do you bring things with you?

I like 60-L internal frame packs with drawstring closures, floating lids, big compressible shovel pockets, and water bottle pockets that I can reach while walking. I don’t like integrated hip belt pockets, but I like being able to attach modular ones. On really big trips I also carry a small daypack. When I walked across the US I used a series of wheeled contraptions instead of a big backpack, finishing with a modified secondhand bike trailer.

I’m constantly having to repair gear while traveling, and packs are no exception. I haven’t had to replace one outright while on the road yet, though.

I’m currently making a backpack from scratch for the first time, because the stuff on the shelves just isn’t what I have in mind, and I’m only getting more particular with time.

A 60-L pack accommodates a lot of equipment. People who travel long-distance with 40-L bags have to make substantial tradeoffs, and people going much over 60 L usually aren’t going nearly as far.

What are your top tips for other long-distance walkers?

“Something you see a lot of long-distance walkers do wrong” – Stop, stop! You’re doing it wrong! 🙂

Visit Owen Martel’s website

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

My top three items for long-distance, self-supported running are as follows:

  • Lightweight tent: Tthe Nordisk Lofoten 2 ULW is a two-person tent that weighs only 500 grams. It is super lightweight and functional!
  • Water filter: The Sawyer SP 105 water filtration system is effective and super lightweight, making it perfect for long journeys!
  • RangeRoller muscle massage therapy tool: The Medi-Dyne RangeRoller will help you work out the kinks and pain of being on the road for so long. I won’t go without one!

Personally, the most useless thing I have brought on a journey is too much clothing. However, if you’re going to pack too many of something, it better be pairs of socks!

How do you bring things with you?

The pack I carry for long-distance running and stage races is the Ultimate Direction Fastpack 25. It is big enough to fit everything I need, but light enough to limit the burden of weight on my journey. This pack is high quality and I haven’t needed to repair it on the road!

What are your top tips for other long-distance walkers?

My biggest suggestion for long-distance runners taking on a big expedition is to keep your pack light. It’s easy to over-pack and have everything you MIGHT need, but it’s far more important to pack lightly and be effective with what you WILL need. Cutting down weight over the course of a long journey will pay huge dividends!

Visit Adam Kimble’s website

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

  • Homemade ultra light waterproof gloves.
    There are times where you wish you had waterproof gloves. This usually happens when it is a bit chilly, it rains and you get a bit of wind. With your hands on the poles they are very exposed and they also don’t move much by holding the poles. With this the circulation is also not supported much. Does it make sense to carry big and heavy water proof gloves. Usually not.

    An easy fix for this are zip-lock bags. Take a gallon bag or smaller, put a little piece of ductape over one of the side-edges and then cut a little hole in that piece. That’s were you can stick your trekking pole through and your hand will go through the regular opening of the zip-lock. PS: And they also work for your feet if they are really cold.

  • Food rotation
    One of the toughest things at the end of a long distance trail is to actually find something you are willing to eat and which you are not sick of already. Therefore: make sure you rotate your food everytime you can. Even though you might still like it and could do it another turn try not to.

    Save it for later so you will be able to eat it until the very end. Because once you have overdone it with one thing it’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to eat it again on the trail. And it sucks to stand in front of a huge candy bar isle not being able to pick anything because you can’t stand it anymore…

  • Pee bottle
    I don’t carry much water during the day. I always camel up wherever I can and only carry water if it is really necessary. Because of this I very often go long stretches without water during the day if I know there is water in the evening. But then I usually have to hydrate in the evening which forces me out of the tent a few times during the night. And there is nothing worse than having to get out of the cosy sleeping bag and out of the tent into a freezing or rainy night.

    Therefore I always carry a pee bottle. Usually it’s a Powerade/Gatorade 1l plastic bottle which weighs 50g and is squishable. Make sure to use a different coloured cap then your drinking bottle. Another cool thing about it is in really cold nights just place it into your sleeping bag…

How do you bring things with you?

Currently I am using a Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 2400 with 40l capacity. My last one lasted pretty much exactly one year and 5.500km. In my opinion more than worth the money. I used it almost every day for a year on hikes through Canada, South America, even Antarctica and then on the PCT. Only during the last weeks it started falling apart which was ok.

I love having small bags like this one for two reasons:

  • Your pack is small and light which makes it very easy to deal with it, don’t carry too much extra weight and it doesn’t throw you off balance in critical situations easily which had happened to me with my old and bigger pack.
  • The smaller your pack the more you have to limit yourself naturally. It will make you think twice or more if you really need or want to bring certain items. It’s a great helper in getting lighter. If you have space you will most probably fill it. Just think of how much stuff you used to have in a dorm as a student and how much you have living in an apartment or house now…

What are your top tips for other long-distance walkers?

Well, there are many things which are worth sharing… Probably the most important one is to find out that it is never about getting to the destination but that it is all about the journey itself.

I met a SOBO-hiker on my 7th or 8th day when I was NOBO on my first long-distance-hike. When I tried to congratulate her on this amazing achievement and I told her that I wished I was already where she was she only looked at me disturbed saying: “You don’t understand. I wish where I was where you are now.” And I thought she was completely nuts.

Only when I arrived at Cape Reinga and the only thing I wanted was for someone to push the lighthouse further out a bit to give me one or two more days I realised what she meant. So enjoy the hike and everything that happens along the way – don’t focus to get there to fast! And I know it sounds easier than it is…

Another thing you can’t stretch enough is to take care of your feet. Tackled very often but can’t be taken up often enough. Your feet. They are the most important thing on a thru-hike. They carry you and your gear. If you don’t take care of them you will have to suffer with every step or even have to go off trail. The biggest mistakes I (and I guess most of us) have made is to ignore the little signs. Especially at the beginning when you are not fully “grooved-in” this becomes crucial.

Therefore: If you only feel the lightest rubbing, pinching or whatever. Stop. Don’t think it will be ok for another hour or for the day. If you hike 25 miles a day the slightest rubbing will lead to irritated skin or a blister eventually. To heal something like this on a trail is painful. It takes forever since you usually walk on your feet every day and they don’t get the brake to recover.

Therfore take a quick break and solve it. If it is a rock in your shoe, take it out. If you have a hole in your sock, change it. If you feel a rubbing, get leuko-tape and tape the area properly. If the tape comes off. Fix it. Prevention is easy but we tend to think it will be ok. Don’t let it come so far.

The second point is hygiene. Especially when you sweat a lot during high temperatures make sure you wash your feet and socks as often as you can. Take them off during a break, wash both and if you don’t get them dry rather walk in wet socks than dirty ones. Your sweat will build little crystals which will function like sand paper on your feet and especially soles. Once you have open spots it’s easy to catch infections. So keep them shiny and clean!

And last but not least – HYOH. Enjoy the beauty from our amazing outdoors. Listen to the sounds of nature, smell everything which is out there and “Do What Make Good”. There is no right or wrong. Don’t let others tell you how a real thru-hike has to be done. Screw them. Hike your own hike is probably one of the most used terms on long distance hikes but one of the least respected ones. Do what what feels right for you. It’s your precious time.

Happy trails to all you #hikertrash

Visit Florian Astor’s website

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

  • Magnesium powder to help with muscle recovery at the end of each day. Walking across Australia with temps in the mid 40s (celcius), I would have struggled without magnesium powder as it speeded up the recovery process and meant I could keep going each and every day.
  • Peanuts and licorice allsorts are great high energy snacks to help the body replace what it burns (well ok the licorice allsorts are just a weakness but the good fats in the peanuts are key to getting through the tough days).
  • Dressings and betadine for treating blisters – it doesn’t matter how many long distance walks I do I always get blisters in the first week so treating them is crucial to being able to go all the way.

Have seen people take a day pack crammed with extra shoes, clothes, food and god knows what else. In my opinion this impedes the walk as you are carrying all that extra weight and you are not likely to use more than 10% of what you carry so think very carefully about the minimum you need and then embrace the challenge of it being just you and the road, it will be a far more enjoyable experience.

How do you bring things with you?

Luckily, I always have a support vehicle on my walks so I don’t have to carry much more than my water bottle and ipod. We use a big old cricket bag that I’ve had for years and stuff it full of all our camping gear, hats, sunscreens, walking gear, shoes etc and then when we get to the start point this just goes in the back of the vehicle so I’ve got everything I need on hand at all times.

What are your top tips for other long-distance walkers?

Embrace the challenge – dream big, work out the logisitics and don’t let doubts (yours or others) get in your way. If you want to achieve something then you can – 80% is mind and 20% is body so believe in yourself and get going.

Ensuring you have a reliable source of food and water, even if that means you have to drop off supplies at key locations before you set out if the route is isolated.

Don’t over-complicate it. People will tell you that you should have all sorts of extra support equipment such as poles or certain types of shoes etc, or that you have to have the latest in safety gear or supplements and more, but at the end of the day it is about what works for you.

Visit Matt Napier’s website

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

  • A Decent Quality Compact Camera: Phone cameras might have a tonne of megapixels to their credit, but in my opinion they just don’t have a decent enough lens for multi use and trying to compose a picture in the glare of bright sunlight using a screen is a mare.

    A posh SLR camera is a grand but heavy luxury but it’s no fun stopping every ten minutes to dig it out of a rucksack. My choice was therefore a compact Fuji tucked into an immediately available belt pouch. It had all the features of an SLR, a quality manual zoom lens and a tough weatherproof (not entirely waterproof) body. The photos won me an International Photography Award… so I am chuffed by my choice.

  • A Handful of Resealable Plastic Bags: Britain is a wet island and Scottish rain is particularly adept at finding it’s way into anything. Both my camera and my phone were technically weatherproof but they were only truly waterproof with the addition of a nice plastic bag. They also kept my snacks from getting soggy. All the main kit in my rucksack was contained in a proper dry-bag too.
  • Corn Wraps: These tiny little things saved my sanity and my walk – not only did they cushion a very poorly toe but they prevented many a blister. None of our feet are untouched by the slight deformations of life and a history of dodgy footwear.

    A combination of persistent rubbing and friction will undoubtedly generate painful blisters at some point, even if your footwear is as comfy as a fireside slipper. Once I discovered these little beauties from a chemist in Annan, I put one over any troublesome toe and my problem just melted away. Bliss!!!

In terms of useless kit I have seen others with it has to be their choice of clothing, particularly big bulky coats and shorts. For me it was thin layers and long trousers always and I topped it off with the most brilliant lightweight wind shirt (Buffalo Classic) and breathable quick drying trousers (Montane Terra).

Keeping the wind out, keeps the chill off, which can be a huge enemy the moment you stop to admire the view, eat or just rest a bit. And as for shorts? Well if you want to attract ticks, insect bites, scratches, thorns and sun burn then feel free. Just please remember that ticks can carry Lyme Disease and that really isn’t nice a nice way to end your walk.

How do you bring things with you?

With the advantage of a roving basecamp, for most of my walk I just carried one small lightweight 25 litre day sack (Montane Cobra), with a belt pouch for my camera. For nights away in the wild, with careful packing and extreme lightweight considerations I could carry everything I needed, including a lightweight 2 man tent, into a 38 litre rucksack (Osprey Kestrel).

For me, access to handy essentials was always important as I never liked to stop to remove my sack and access kit, so all my rucksacks would have hip and side pouches that I could reach while I walked. The only addition was a belt pouch for my camera.

For weeks away from civilisation I don’t think you can go wrong with Osprey packs. I have a 70 litre Osprey Aether I have used, but I couldn’t have done the daily mileage I did with that thing fully loaded – after all I am not military trained. Both my Montane Cobra and Osprey Kestrel are still as good as the day I bought them and both have been through a real battering. Don’t forget either a good waterproof cover and / or the additional use of dry-bags for keeping your kit bone dry inside.

What are your top tips for other long-distance walkers?

Be realistic and prepare. From nerdy research prior to my 5,000 mile walk I found that about 50% of people who had made a previous attempt at walking the coast of Britain in one go, failed. The reasons for failure were numerous but apart from the few who just had bad luck, most of the failures were down to lack of preparation.

Whether it be lack of training, overestimating capability, poor kit or route choice, lack of logistical support or money – all eventualities can be covered with a really good planning and preparation stage.

I learnt very early on that tough stages with plenty of ascent and corresponding descent couldn’t be done on a 25 mile day. So I trimmed the distance down and did 17 or 18 miles as I roughly calculated that every 1,000ft of ascent was the equivalent of an additional mile of effort. Steep days were short and on flat days I could make up the distance with 27 or even 28 miles. My overall average was nearly 21 miles per day and that was enough for me.

I did make one mistake, which hurt for a long time. I went off too fast. I think enthusiasm and adrenalin was high and my pace overstressed my feet. As a consequence, the fourth toe on my right foot just collapsed and broke on day 3. It was only the thought of an embarrassing early defeat that kept me stubborn enough to bite through the pain for a few months and learn to ignore it. Get into a nice easy stride to start.

Reviews and links to all of my kit, details of my planning and an international award winning photo illustrated journal of my walk can be found in the book ‘I May Be Gone For Some Time’ (Vertebrate Publishing).

Visit Peter Hill’s website

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

  • I like reusable cable ties. You can fix them or open them with one hand, they are sturdy, and I usually carry so many that I’m not afraid to lose them.
  • Since I’m traveling with the Caboose (my beloved handcart), I can afford to take a fiber mat along, one of those thin Chinese bamboo mats. It is absolutely awesome in the summer, when the ground is scorching hot.
  • Does the Caboose count as a thing? I love her.

Okay, here’s the thing about the Caboose: I got her in June 2008, when I arrived in the Gobi Desert and figured that there was no way I could cross it with only my backpack. Because water is heavy. So I had her custom made in a welding shop in the city of Zhangye. And she has been my friend ever since.

Useless things? Not sure, I don’t pay a lot of attention to other travelers.

How do you bring things with you?

I have a 75+10 liter German backpack that I’ve been using for the last ten years. Love it, but I’m not going to talk about brands. It never needed any repairs. I mostly strap it onto the Caboose for transport, though. Room is fine. I use compartment bags to organize the space in my backpack.

What are your top tips for other long-distance walkers?

I will pass on a tip that I once received from a more experienced walker: you can spend two days preparing yourself for your walk, or you can spend two years with your preparations. But either way, you will have to make the first step eventually.

I know this sounds like some “chicken soup for the soul” type of empty advice. But it’s true. Starting is the hardest part. That and stopping.

Visit Christoph Rehage’s website

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

  • A jogging stroller.
  • A standard size pillow.
  • A small notepad and pen.

My long-distance walks are always for a cause and therefore I choose to walk on roads rather than trails for more exposure to people. With that in mind, I am able to have a pushcart for my things rather than a backpack. The one I use is originally designed to be pulled behind a bicycle and it is for carrying a dog. I gutted it and added a front wheel and it became a cross-country pushcart that I named Lieutenant Dan.

I get made fun of all the time for bringing a full standard size pillow. I get so much use out of it though. Of course I use it to sleep comfortably but it also serves as a cushion to sit on while taking road-side breaks and my dog gets to use it as a cushion when she needs a walking break and rides inside Lieutenant Dan.

A small notepad and pen have been very valuable to me. I keep a daily blog and this allows me to take notes throughout the day so that I don’t leave anything out. I talk to a lot of people when on my walks so taking down notes, names, and numbers happens often and it’s great to have the pen and paper handy.

How do you bring things with you?

Pushcart: Novel by DoggyRide – The Cadillac of long-distance walking carts. I have had to practice good maintenance, make my own upgrades, and do a few repairs here and there but it has held up very well for me.

An Eddie Bauer Stowaway 40L duffle bag, this is for all of my clothes, hygiene, and medicine. It serves me very well.

Ozark Trail waterproof bag – My food bag. Durable and easy to hang at night.

What are your top tips for other long-distance walkers?

Don’t expect the ‘trip of a lifetime’ to happen all at once. It is going to be extremely difficult at times. Especially in the beginning as you figure things out. Just keep going. The good experiences will happen if you stick with it. You cannot expect instant gratification.

Don’t be intimidated. Set your goal and know your direction, but do not focus on that on a day to day basis. All you have to do is make a little progress every day and you will eventually get where you are going. Read books and blogs of others who have done it before so you can have somewhat of an idea of what to prepare for.

Visit Brett Bramble’s website

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

  • SteriPen – Water purifier, helps to purify water in places where clean water is hard to come by. Water is life.
  • Handkerchiefs – Easier and more durable than gauze and light weight. Cleans and dries easily and can be used for multiple things, stops blisters, face cover, neck cover, tissue, gauze replacement, cleans wounds.
  • Podcasts – When surrounded by the environment/nature I generally don’t listen to anything except the world around me, but on loud/busy walks I find that listening to podcasts really helps me keep going.

The most useless things I have seen have probably been things like pillows (just use soft clothing), or deodorant (you’re going to smell regardless) or makeup or really large books (I love reading, but books are heavy, go for an eBook if you can). These things are usually not needed on your journey and just take up space and weight. However, everyone is different and places different values on things, so don’t go without something that will keep you happy. It’s important to stay in good spirits over long distances.

How do you bring things with you?

I carry a 65L Mountain Designs bag, I’m not sure of the make or model as I purchased it in 2007 and I don’t think it is in production any longer. I’ve had this bag for over 10 years now and it has been on many expeditions with me. The last expedition was for over 10 months and although it now has a few tears, it is easily fixable. It is one of the best purchases I have ever made. I didn’t have to repair or alter anything whilst on the road and I always felt like I had plenty of space.

What are your top tips for other long-distance walkers?

My top tips would be to slow down. Going too quickly is actually something that I am guilty of, but I really recommend slowing down and actually taking in the sights around you. It’s okay to take an extra rest day here and there. Go and stop by the waterfall for lunch, take a swim! Watch the animals and have lunch with people that invite you in to their homes. Absorbing everything is a part of the adventure, don’t let it pass you by because you’re too busy trying to reach camp.

The best thing you can do to get out of the door is to put your shoes on. Put your shoes and bag on and then you’re halfway there. What’s the point of putting them on if you’re just going to stay in the house? It motivates you to actually USE them. Another thing would be to ask a friend to join you, that way you can motivate each other to keep going and place one foot in front of the other.

Visit Gabrielle Murphy’s website

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

One of the first things that I thought for the success of my walk around the world was the way to introduce myself to the population. Step by step I developed an album showing prestigious newspaper clippings interviews telling my story in different languages, of course the map of my trajectory across the five great continents covering the 64 countries gave them the amplitude of my world walk. Also, it contains pictures with Luce, my life partner at that time, my children, grandchildren, my parents.

This page was the most interesting for people. Also, photos in different cultures and some letters from authorities as the one from “the UNESCO’s decade 2000-2010 for peace for children”. Turning these pages suddenly my interlocutor wondered, “You met Nelson Mandela!” Every time I feel respected and protected by them.

In Mexico, I asked a shoemaker: Can you please cut a piece of leather, fold it and sew each side to contain a couple of local banknotes? Thief did not notice my thin wallet throughout my trouser! Otherwise, those hidden wallets for tourists (that everybody knows, anyway) was useless on sweating conditions.

Finally, a simple small camera in a case on my belt, hidden by open shirt over my t-shirt was fast to draw for hunting amazing pictures. Big camera was too cumbersome for me.

How do you bring things with you?

Bringing more than 40 kilos of gears on my back was impossible in 11 years and two months walk. Sometimes I had in addition 50 kilos of water and food walking across deserts. I brought my belongings in a sport baby stroller from Chariot Carrier. It was strong, easy to push and to fix, and also foldable for the flights. It took three of them to cover 75,500km, nearly twice the circumference of the planet.

What are your top tips for other long-distance walkers?

Acceptance would be my main advice. Behave well in any situations that may happen. Culture is hard to understand. Walking in a long arid zone, the warm the cold, rain — we must keep good attitude.

Also, even if I’m the first who did walk through the five continents, I thought it would be no sense to walk all those years for a record. I walked to promote non-violence for children. I would advice to dedicate your endeavor to raise awareness on any themes.

Finally, if you feel the blues, just go take a walk. But be careful, you may continue walk around the world. Enjoy!

Visit Jean Béliveau’s website

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

  • Trekking poles (a pair, not just one – two are miles better). They make you look a bit keen and over-serious, but the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, allowing far more energy-efficient walking, like a four-wheel drive;
  • Head torch – much easier and less effort when you’re tired than having to hold a torch in your hand;
  • One-cup electric water heater with one-litre steel flask – if you’re not taking cooking gear, being able to boil water (in the flask itself) when you can get some power can be very useful.

Most useless thing I’ve seen people bring? – a donkey to carry the gear (but that was me bringing it …)

How do you bring things with you?

I’ve usually travelled with a Berghaus Cyclops Vulcan 100-litre army-green pack. These seemed better quality some years ago when they were still made in the UK rather than abroad, and were arguably the most durable rucksack available – though they’re still good today.

The downside of such a large pack of course is that you’ll fill the space with stuff you don’t need and be tempted to carry too much. And in trouble spots, it’s often a bad idea to have anything military-looking with you (clothes or equipment), this can lead to potentially dangerous misunderstandings.

It’s important to get a rucksack that fits you. This can be tricky with so many people buying equipment online these days, but carrying a reasonable load long distances in a rucksack that doesn’t fit is about as comfortable as doing the same thing in boots that don’t fit. Personally, given the choice I’d prefer a fixed-back rucksack in the right size – the moving parts on adjustable rucksacks are likely to be less durable long-term than something permanently fixed. Though if different people of different sizes are likely to be using the same rucksack at different times, then obviously adjustable is the better option.

What are your top tips for other long-distance walkers?

Ideally, go at your own pace rather than having to adjust to other people’s pace constantly – either by travelling alone or by finding others who prefer a similar pace to yours.

Avoid pack animals (unless you know what you’re doing or have someone with you who does!).

Trekking poles again – some people you see don’t use them properly, e.g. they do things like placing each pole after a couple of steps or just whenever they happen to feel like it rather than with each individual step.

Walking is better exercise than a lot of people think (and burns more calories than a lot of people think).

Visit Fran Sandham’s website

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

  • Sailing cloth needle and dental floss for repairing bag, shorts, shirt, etc. oh, and you can floss your teeth with it.
  • Dan moi. This is a very small Vietnamese instrument that is fun in camp, on summits and sometimes at a walking pace to keep rhythm.
  • A small statue of St. Jude – the patron saint of lost causes and hopeless cases.

How do you bring things with you?

I used a Salomon S/LAB Peak 20. This is a 20L pack with no waist belt. I added on a small front pack that would allow me to access most small things (camera, gloves etc) throughout the day. This is for the minimalist hiker that can pack their gear in under 8kg.

The pack held up fairly well considering my trek was 3700-miles in length. Only minor repairs.

What are your top tips for other long-distance walkers?

I find that most hikers bring waaaaaay toooo much stuff. I would much rather have the bare necessities and be able to cover more ground than have the camp chair or two types of gloves or the puffy jacket. These are all things that you have in your pack already… you just need to be creative. The reward of all of these things after a long day in the hills is all the greater when you are tired.

There is a great book that taught me how to fast pack called Lighten Up.

Visit Rickey Gates’s website

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

I don’t think I bring anything that unusual but probably less common are binoculars, e-reader, notebook.

The binoculars are for wildlife watching, which is one of the joys of long-distance walking. I’ve also used them for route-finding – scanning pathless terrain from a high pass or summit for the best line – and occasionally for checking with a dark shape up ahead was a boulder or a grizzly bear! Once it was a bear and I changed my route a little.

The e-reader is for evening entertainment if cooped up in the shelter in rain or to escape mosquitoes or midges. The e-reader can also hold guidebooks and nature guides. And you can read it while walking in the rain if it’s in a waterproof case. I once read my way over a pass in the Scottish Highlands on a day of mist and rain. You can’t do that with a paperback!

The notebook is my journal. I’ve tried electronics for this but typing on a tiny keyboard with cold fingers is just too difficult. Pen and paper is much easier.

How do you bring things with you?

I’ve used many packs over the years. My current favourite is the ULA Catalyst, which has proved durable, and was big enough for a bear resistant canister and all my gear on my last long walk. In the past I had had to repair or replace packs during long walks.

What are your top tips for other long-distance walkers?

Take it easy when starting out and don’t try to do high mileages unless you’re already super fit and used to carrying a load. Fitness will come with time. Setting too high initial targets can result in disappointment. Also, don’t carry more than you need. Check the weight of everything and consider whether you really need it. Many beginners take too much stuff because it feels more secure. At the same time your gear must be suitable for the expected conditions.

Visit Chris Townsend’s website

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

I don’t know that I bring anything that is all that different from what most long-distance walkers/cyclists pack. In fact, my kit is more or less what you would find on most packing list.

The oddest part of my equipment is that I choose to walk in flip-flops or minimalist sandals. I started out in more substantial shoes but went more and more minimalist as I went and the last 15,000 km were more or less completely done in flip-flops. Something that I have received a lot of comments about! 🙂

Apart from that, there are no secrets.

The most important thing to remember is to have some nice coffee with you.

How do you bring things with you?

I choose to walk with a cart and built the cart around an aluminum box. The great benefit of the alu-box is that it was lockable and, most importantly, completely waterproof.

That meant that I could lock my stuff up outside stores and in campsites and had a little bit more peace of mind.

The box itself was 81 liters in size and was plenty big enough. I did occasionally need more space for drinking water and food, but there was plenty of space on the cart outside of the box so even when I was walking through the driest parts of Australia, I had no problems packing the 40 liters of water and a weeks worth of food.

What are your top tips for other long-distance walkers?

The top tip is to just get out and do it. Don’t spend too much time planning all the details, it’s much more about starting, committing.

Then, when you head out, don’t try to have too much of a set itinerary, let it take the time it takes in the beginning while you get used to walking and your equipment.

If I was to start a really long walk again (and I will once I finish the-walk), then I would very much like to do it without having any sort of goal. Just head out the door and start walking and let serendipity lead where it will. The ultimate vagabonding experience! 🙂

Visit Mats Andren’s website

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

  • A two-litre thermos which means that I don’t have to boil up water on the road. I always ask at cafe, garages, etc. Also, don’t scrimp on the cost of a thermos. So what if it is over a hundred euro. Mine now costs just a few cents per fill up, as that’s how many times I have used it! It’s a Stanley two-litre 48-hour rating.
  • A small light-weight extension lead. That means that I can still waste time on social media if the socket is too far away from my bed. It’s also handy for charging devices in places where the socket is inaccessible.
  • I hand out business type cards to everyone I talk to so as I can share my cancer awareness message of my world walk: Life is precious and early cancer screening saves lives.

How do you bring things with you?

I push most of my gear in a Chariot Cougar 1 jogging stroller and as it is designed for only 35 kilos if I’m on a long waterless stretch I take the pressure off the cart by carrying extra water food, etc in an Oz Trail 40-litre backpack.

I have to do occasional preventive maintenance on my cart. Currently, I need a wheel straightened. My backpack is superb!

I know I have too much gear. I wish I was more minimalist. I realise that the bigger the cart or backpack then there is a temptation to fill it up!

What are your top tips for other long-distance walkers?

Live in the moment and answer any “when” questions with “whenever!”

Stop being in a hurry, let everyone else rush. There never should be a reason to be in a hurry.

Look not at your feet while walking but all around you. Observes observe, observe and ask plenty of questions about the area to everyone you talk to. Sometimes even silly questions can lead to interesting answers. I mean: A few weeks ago I asked someone in Queensland what the paper and plastic bag debris was on some barbed-wire fences along the highway. I assumed it was all blown there by the wind. In fact, it was flood debris.

For pot scrubbers, cut up a foam cleaning pad into one centimeter small pieces and then throw it away after cleaning. That means the whole pad doesn’t get infected.

Use lots of zip-lock bags. The ones with a zip and not the push closed ones.

Carry your passport inside one of these zip-lock bags and keep it in a stitched in pocket inside your walking top.

Take as many bank cards as you can. That way if your bank stops your card you have more. Authorise a family member on your account to help sort out any problems.

Write your pin numbers down in a code that only you can understand. Send a photo of that to a secure location and also leave a copy at home along with a photocopy of your passport information.

Visit Tony Mangan’s website

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

I don’t really know if what I bring or don’t bring is typical for long distance walkers. But wherever I go I take a notepad and pen. Large parts of my trip across the world were on my own and so I had to take the time to make sure I looked after my mental well being. I wrote a lot, made notes as well as doodles and sketches.

Again I don’t know if this is common among long distance walkers but I didn’t have a chair for 4 and a half years until the final leg of Australia. I saw them on discount in a hardware shop. Up until then it was just pavement, trees or walls. I thought it would be great to get away from the ants attacking me everyday. It changed lunch breaks for good! I only wish I had bought one sooner.

I met a man in Asia on the walk who had made cue cards for foreign countries he was travelling in, they were pictures of toilets and certain foods, to signal to people what he was after. It was a good idea for an emergency, but I felt that part of the fun was going through the steps of trying, not to just learn the language, but also that mutual attempt at working together that happens often when communicating with someone who doesn’t speak your language. It can build a rapport with the person that can lead to great moments .

How do you bring things with you?

I have two bags from the Lowe Alpine series, AirZone 35:45 and 45:55. I’ve had them for the majority of Borderwalk. They’ve been through mountains, deserts, jungles and never needed repairing, probably the best bags I’ve owned. I only went for the second Lowe Alpine bag because I wanted to downsize. I found I was carrying more than I needed and to stop me over packing I decided to just get a smaller bag. It was liberating yet scary at the same time. Owning so little in the world and your life being consigned to a 35 litre bag and most of that being a laptop, charger and bedding.

What are your top tips for other long-distance walkers?

I think the best thing you can acknowledge is that everyone is different. We all have different limits and comfort zones. Know yours, or take the time to learn what you like and what you don’t like, what you can do and what is expected of you. Because people along the way will have opinions of what, in their mind, you’re doing wrong and what you should change. People who have never even thought about something you’ve vocalized and become overnight experts. The best thing you can do in those situations is take their advice on-board but know what works for you and know when something won’t.

I see a lot of people have a regimented plan/schedule and even though I’m not the best person to talk to about schedules (for me a 3 year walk took 5), I do believe the best plan is to stay flexible and loose.

Also I met a few walkers on the journey who were quick to give up, I met one walker from Italy who told me the route I was taking led me to a closed border or a border that wouldn’t let foreigners through. He wasn’t going to bother so was getting a plane across. This was not in the spirit of the trip for me, I don’t mean getting a plane, but at least not trying.

Every time I went to a border someone said I wasn’t going to be allowed through, I got through, with no extortionate bribes paid as it was a rule I had from the beginning. Maybe the tip from that is to be stubborn I don’t know, but at least don’t give up so easily.

Visit Arjun Bhogal’s website

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

  • Scarf. Not only do I wear them too keep my neck warm, but instead of using Sun screen I use it to cover the top half of my exposed skin, as a pillow or sheet in that tent, a shade structure or turban to keep my wild hairs tame after a month of not showering!
  • Baby powder (or Arrowroot powder). This is a must for me as I walk long distances and the feet get a real sweat on. So, I use this to refresh my trainers and minimize smell and moisture. It also helps to soak up the oil in my hair if I plan on trying to look somewhat decent in public- 😉
  • Baby wipes. I carry at least two packs at all times. This is my nightly bath routine. I also use them to clean my kitchen wares when I’m in places where water is limited. For instance, in Western Australia I would never have used water to clean anything, including my body, because water was so difficult to find.

How do you bring things with you?

I am a big fan of Monowalker, a company by German designer Kai Fuchs. He not only makes carts for long distance walkers but he has his own line of duffel bags. Kai handmade my cart for my needs and I use his roll-down duffel bags. They’re waterproof and make flying with my cart and gear super easy.

I have used Ortlieb bags in the past which are very durable and waterproof as well but the reason I’ve switched to Monowalker bags is because it’s a roll-down design so zippers can’t break on me!

What are your top tips for other long-distance walkers?

I am into the slow nature of walking. I don’t want to feel that I’m always trying to get somewhere but I often run into other travelers who measure their success by their distance. My greatest tip for outdoor adventurers is to attempt to feel everything and experience what they are walking through. Let go of measuring success by distance and time.

Perhaps one day we will start giving acknowledgment to those who took the time to listen, feel, connect and learn!

Visit Angela Maxwell’s website

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