Learn Skills Multi day hill walking and backpacking

Multi day hill walking and backpacking


What’s better than a day in the hills? Easy – several days! There are a few different names for multi-day hikes, from backpacking to trekking or fastpacking. Whatever you call it, they all involve being self-contained and carrying everything you need to survive in the outdoors such as a tent, sleeping bag and food, whilst walking from one location to the next.

Planning is often just as big a part of a successful multi-day walk as the execution. Here are our tips for walkers looking to take their first steps into walking far and sleeping enroute:

First Steps

Start with one or two night trips to experience walking day after day with a heavy pack – and whether or not you actually like it! Shorter trips are an opportunity to test out kit and get a feel for how much distance and or ascent you can cover in a day.

Make A Kit List

Working out what gear you need to take is one of the most important parts of planning a successful multi-day hike. Make a list of everything you need to pack, from essentials like tent, sleeping bag and sleeping mat, to food and water, and any items you just can’t leave home without. If you really want to get geeky, include the weight of each item so you can keep an eye on how heavy your bag will be. With time and experience, you’ll strike the right balance for you between survival, comfort and luxury.

Plan The Route

When planning your route think about daily distance, the amount of ascent/descent, and any options to cut the route short or escape if you need to. When starting out it’s wise to keep things manageable; look for well-established routes or national trails rather than an epic backcountry expedition with huge daily distances for your first trip. Remember what looks straightforward on a map in the comfort of your home may seem very different when you’re out there. Choose a route with civilisation close at hand as a backup and have plenty of ‘Plan Bs’ and escape routes to allow for a change in the weather, injury, kit failures, emergencies or other unforeseen problems.

Where to stay

Depending on your route, there are a variety of options from bivvying wherever you find yourself at sunset, to wild camping, bothies, campsites, club huts, or even a pub or Air BNB. If you do wild camp, remember to follow this best practice advice in our BMC Respect The Wild: Wild Camping video.

Go With Company

When attempting something new in the outdoors, it’s often best to it attempt it with others, at least at first. Backpacking is no exception – companions give you company, moral support and backup kit in case yours fails.

Use Expert Advice

Backpacking, particularly of the lightweight and ultralight variety, has a cult following, and there are hundreds of YouTubers, blogs and websites out there run by people who live and breathe it. The depth of the enthusiasm – or geekiness, to put it another way – of some of these folks can be intimidating, with detailed pack lists, equipment analysed down to the gram and thousands of words expended in the minute analysis of stoves and tents. But amidst all this there are many gems of wisdom to be found – don’t be afraid to wade in.

Do what you enjoy

Over time you can progress to longer and bigger objectives, go faster and further, or enjoy the luxury of walking from pub to pub!