How to Prepare and Pack for Hiking in High Altitude: Your Guide

Last Updated on March 3, 2020

Hiking in High Altitude

It is known to hikers that high altitude hiking is the most challenging and rewarding outdoor sport. The fun and thrill one can get from a high altitude hiking is beyond any description. You need to add this activity to your bucket list right away.

The experience will be worth remembering; trust me! No matter where high altitude hiking will give you an unforgettable experience. Divine experience doesn’t come without obstacles. Yes, high altitude hiking requires hardship, practice, preparation, and focus.

Without those, the quintessential summit sunrise will never come in front of your eyes. There are some risks of high altitude hiking. Let me tell you those at the beginning.

The Risk of High-altitude Hiking

You need to understand the risk of high altitude hiking very clearly. To understand, you can do some research to know about Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) and how to face those problems. You should be prepared to take immediate action if you or any of your team members have these symptoms.


It is the harsh form of altitude sickness where you will experience a headache, nausea, or you will feel exhausted. AMS is similar to a hangover. If you notice these symptoms, be aware!


If liquid seeps into lungs and feels like the wind knocked out of you or you may cough up frothy foam, you need to take immediate precaution!


If you experience that your speech is slurring and you are stumbling, you need to be aware without delay.

You should search more and learn what to do in such cases. I just mentioned those so that you can do proper research before going for high altitude hiking. Now it’s time to make you prepared for the journey, and the truth is you will never get a real way to train for high altitude.

You’ve to learn on your way on your own. In the following section, I will tell you the right way to pack for your high altitude hiking. On the mountain, the weather condition is not stable. You can even experience four seasons within a few moments. Let’s see what you should pack for that:

Clothing Considerations

  • Base Layers made of Merino-wool or synthetic material should be there. It pulls moisture away from your body. You will stay warm longer.
  • Specially made hiking pants or leggings are must that are designed with a layer of DWR. A layer of DWR will repel light rain and snow.
  • Keep a pair of lightweight rain pants too. Who knows about the weather condition out there? Also, you should keep a rain jacket along with the pant to get full protection from the rain. Gore-Tex rain jacket is recommended as they breathe better and never overheats.
  • A hiking shirt with quick-drying ability is a must. You can get wet from sweat or rain on the mountain. Be aware of that. Never hike around wet all day. Sickness can catch you anytime.
  • Keep a good pair of gloves. The gloves should be lightweight and breathable also able to provide warmth in cold conditions.
  • Keeping a warm beanie can protect your head from extreme heat. It is a must-have item on your pack.
  • Another essential and versatile thing is a buff that can be used as a balaclava, or a headband, or a hat, or even a hair tie.
  • You need to be prepared for extreme cold too with a good and lightweight down jacket.

Footwear Consideration

You need a good pair of hiking boots or trail runners. Remember, you need to walk miles, so the boot must be lightweight and comfortable. There must be enough cushioning and also a bit waterproof. You need to have a boot that provides stability and support in those unshaped terrines.

Shocks are another essential thing you need to have on your baggage. A few pairs of wool socks are recommended as wool dries quickly than other materials. At least keeping two pairs is highly recommended. A good pair of waterproof gaiters will save your life on muddy or snowy conditions. Gaiters will keep those elements out of your boots.

Gear Consideration

A backpack is a must. It is recommended to have a backpack of 20 to 40-liter range. Otherwise, you cannot keep everything secured. If you are going for a long time, you should consider a bigger capacity. In case you need to carry trekking poles, purchase a backpack that has carrying loops included.

The weather in the mountain is unpredictable. Anything can happen. You can encounter severe snow or rain while on the Great Smoky Mountains. That’s why you need to be prepared with a waterproof pack cover.

Trekking poles help to save knees, so they are not an optional item. You can pick a trekking pole that folds down small so that you can adjust it inside your backpack. A first aid kit box is a must. I repeat, it is a must.

As I mentioned earlier, anything can happen out there, so you have to be entirely well prepared. You also have to have a good map, a compass, and a GPS communicator. They can even save your life out there! Don’t forget any of them before going for the journey of your life.

A headlamp will show you the right path in the darkest hour. Always keep it on your outdoor adventure trip. And also keep extra batteries for them. Also, keep Sunscreen and SPF lip balm on your backpack. Don’t be exposed in front of the direct sunlight without them.

A good hydration reservoir instead of water bottles should be a better choice for you. On a hydration reservoir, you can hold a large quantity of water, that’s why. You’ve to spend your time outdoors in different weather conditions. So, your eyes can get damaged. For keeping your eyes away from the reflection of harmful UV rays, sunglasses are a must. Don’t get out without cool sunglasses.

Food and Water Consideration

Pack some high-calories food bars; you will need them frequently. Those are great for afternoon snacks or light meals whenever necessary to boost up your energy.

You have to drink enough water to lessen your chances of altitude sickness. At least three to four quarts of water are recommended every day. You should keep your urine output clear.

A small water filter and a decent amount of water-purification tablets should be there on your backpack. You can run out of water out there. So you need to be ready for that.

You see, any better thing in this world comes at a price. High Altitude hiking is one of those better things you can enjoy if you’ve dedication, focus, and proper preparation. The cost to see the heavenly view of the sunset from the summit requires hardship.

In the article, we tried to provide knowledge so that you can be well prepared for your journey. Later on, we will also include all the other factors you need to consider for a high altitude hiking. Keep an eye on our blog. See you soon with many more.


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