hiking without backpack?
March 2, 2012 3:07 PM   Subscribe

Can I get away with hiking without backpack? I'm going on a trip soon, and there might be hiking involved. But, I also want to pack superlight, and don't really want to bring my hiking pack (it's a 30L pack, so it does take up some space). I've tried stowaway backpacks before but they are rarely comfortable. If I'm just bringing water, a clif bar, and my ID, do I really need a backpack? can I get away with a canvas tote?

also, any suggestion on how to make those drawstring backpacks comfortable? or a cheaper alternative for Chico's stowaway backpack?
posted by atetrachordofthree to Grab Bag (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Depends on the hike. We've gone on lots that are just "carry the water bottle in your hand, tie the windbreaker around your waist" kinds of hikes. But these are not in any way back-country hikes, and they're rarely longer than three hours or so. I'd hate the tote because I'd feel unbalanced carrying a bag in just one hand, but maybe that's just me.
posted by rtha at 3:11 PM on March 2, 2012

It'll probably be less or around 5 miles.
posted by atetrachordofthree at 3:15 PM on March 2, 2012

Make one of those Hobo stick satchels!

I have one of the really small Camelbak packs (I think it cost ~$30, it might be their budget line), which has 2 small pouches to put things like energy bars, trail maps, and a camera in. And it naturally holds the water, so pretty much everything is taken care of.
posted by JauntyFedora at 3:19 PM on March 2, 2012

that's an afternoon trip? you can get away with it. I would tie an extra long sleeved shirt around the waist, grab some bandaids and an extra cliff bar- you really don't want to get stuck with absolutedly nothing out there. I'd also carry a waterbottle.

Grab a fleece or vest with pockets- you should be able to jam those full and be fine. it's not the smartest idea in the world, but as long as you don't go off trail, you'll be fine.
posted by larthegreat at 3:19 PM on March 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

If it's less than five miles, then I think a water bottle and a clif bar would be good enough.

But if you find yourself being asked to go on a 10+ mile hike with just a bottle of water, I think you should say 'no' -- unless someone else is willing to carry extra water for you.
posted by mild deer at 3:19 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

In that case, I'd say the backpack is totally unnecessary. Plan for the weather (jacket, suncreen, hat, whatever) and bring water and a snack that fits in your pocket. And a cellphone, just in case (because I always think of people around here who clamber down a beachside cliff and get stuck, and have to call 911, but you won't do anything that dumb). I'm assuming that the hike is not in a place that's extreme weather- temperature- or terrain-wise - if it's a five-mile hike in Yosemite in winter, for example, the advice would be quite different.
posted by rtha at 3:21 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding the camelbak, they're great for just the keys/water/bar sorts of trips. I have a very old, very cheap one and I adore it.
posted by restless_nomad at 3:21 PM on March 2, 2012

I go on 5-20 mile hikes without a backpack all the time. It's no different than going on a run and who hauls a pack on a run?
posted by fshgrl at 3:34 PM on March 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oops, I meant 5-10 miles. For 20 miles is probably bring a coat and a snack.
posted by fshgrl at 3:34 PM on March 2, 2012

Dayhikes are no problem. To carry a waterbottle wo a pack I cut the heel out of an old wool sock and put the bottle in the foot part. A 1 litre Nalgene wide mouth fits perfectly. The ankle part ties easily to a belt loop. Wet the sock to keep the water cool.
posted by bonehead at 3:46 PM on March 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

It depends. If you're with someone else, sure you can skip the pack. Cargo pants/shorts will give you spots for the lip balm/car keys/etc. that you might want.

If you're hiking alone, no, you should carry a pack. This is because solo hikers should always carry matches, a flashlight, a map & compass (or GPS if you don't know how to use a compass), a gore-tex jacket (or other extra layer), mobile phone, a couple of liters of water and a couple thousand calories. Sure, it's an easy trail and you know it well so you're tempted to skip all this stuff but it just takes one wrong step and you've broken your ankle and then you're out overnight while your friend (you DID tell your friend where you were going and what time you'd be back, right?) alerts SAR, they get to you and extract you and your broken ankle.

So if you're solo, carry a pack, OK?

Bad things happen to good hikers all the time, and being out there a lot makes it more likely that something bad will happen to you eventually. I have not needed my emergency provisions myself, but I have rescued a couple of hikers who were in over their heads.
posted by workerant at 3:47 PM on March 2, 2012 [10 favorites]

Why not get a water bottle hand pack thingy with a small pocket that can hold your keys and a bar. A lot of them come with nice bottles but I also have one that fits and standard 12-oz water bottle, and is about the size of a golf ball when rolled/crumpled up. Buy the water when you get there. You can find these at any running store.

For me, depending on the weather, one bottle would be plenty for 5 miles. YMMV.

There are also waist packs with water bottles and pockets, but it's going to be the bottle, not the pack, that takes up the most space. Though you can probably cram the pack into the empty bottle to save space in your luggage.

Or forgo the water and just use a Spibelt.
posted by Brittanie at 3:50 PM on March 2, 2012

Get one of these water bottle carriers. They'll leave your hands free and won't be awkward like a tote would be. You can slip a protein bar and your ID in the side, or in a pocket.
posted by DoubleLune at 4:19 PM on March 2, 2012

Your canvas tote is enough to carry what you need. Don't get weighed down with too much stuff.
posted by Flashman at 4:32 PM on March 2, 2012

It totally depends on where you are hiking, not the distance. I mean, I walk 5 miles to work a few times a week, and I range between carrying nothing, or a drink bottle only, or my phone and wallet in a handbag, or a gym bag slung over one shoulder.

But if I was doing even a 2 mile walk in the mountains with no phone reception and few other people around, you bet I'd be taking a backpack with warm clothes, extra food, matches and a first aid kit. You can get lost, you can get cut off by floods/fires/rockfalls, you can break a leg, you can get caught in a sudden snow storm...
posted by lollusc at 7:22 PM on March 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

i'm not sure what Chico bag you were talking about, so i'm not sure if this is cheaper, but i've used an earlier version of LL Beans Stowaway daypack for many all day excursions and I have been very happy with it. It was comfortable even completely stuffed to the gills with layers/water etc.
posted by nanhey at 7:26 AM on March 3, 2012

The REI Flash 18 is fantastic for carrying water, snacks and anything extra without being a real "pack". It suited us just fine at a 3-day DMB festival last year.

Sorry, i don't know how to link ....but google is your friend. I assure you, you'll be pleased.
posted by AnneBoleyn at 8:36 AM on March 3, 2012

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