How to Plan for a Multi-day Backpacking Trip

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Backpacking in the Uintas: Multiple Days

Planning for more than one day and night in the backcountry is a skill that improves with time. As you learn more about where you’re recreating, you gain perspective that dictates how you pack and prepare. As the third article in this series on backpacking in the Uintas, we’ll explore more on what to consider when planning for a multi-day backpacking trip.

Your Gear and You

Multi-day backpacking trips can require an extensive gear list. What you need to pack depends on the time of year, where you’re going, and for how long. It’s possible to get by with minimal gear or base-level items that may be heavier, but investing in quality gear can have a real impact. The right gear could make the difference between having a great trip and wishing you were back at home.

You can build up your gear closet over time. Quality gear items have design features that can make you more comfortable and help improve performance. The more advanced your gear, the more it can help. A lightweight tent, sleeping bag, and pad can shed weight from your pack so you can hike more comfortably. Also, modern backpacking packs have ergonomic designs and lightweight, breathable padding—it’s such a better experience to carry a heavy load without it hurting your back.

Quality footwear is also paramount to a successful multi-day backpacking trip. Equip yourself with shoes that can go the distance. Stop by Jans on Park Avenue to pick up a pair of hiking boots and get a fitting from one of our experts. Before going out on a big trip, remember to wear your shoes as much as possible so they’re fully broken in to avoid the ‘new shoe blister’. Combine well-fitted boots with a pair of moisture-wicking socks and good insoles that are right for your type of foot, and you’ll be able to hike for days without issue.

If all else fails, bring along some first aid blister patches. These have saved me from real pain on the trail and while rock climbing. Always go out with a first aid kit in your pack. Find the right sized kit for you or your group. Check it between trips to update medication you may have taken or bandages and supplies that may be missing.

Jans experts sporting hiking footwear in the Uinta mountains of Utah.

Personally, I like the hiking boots that come up a bit past my ankle for added support. Before big trips, you should check your hiking boots to see if the weather proofing needs to be renewed. If they do, then I dive straight into giving them a good clean before applying a homemade beeswax blend that I use to waterproof my leather boots and gloves.


I like to start with deciding how many nights I’ll be out on the trip. This helps me decide how much food I need and also how many pairs of clothes to bring. It’s nice to change socks and underwear each day—having fresh underlayers to put on can be a big morale boost when you’ve been out roughing it for a few days.

Packing for a multi-day backpacking trip requires a balance between preparedness and not overpacking. Clothing can take up lots of room, so it helps to have layers that are lightweight and don’t take much space. Plan on a set of clothes to hike in each day, and pack a set of base-layers to change into at camp so you’re not sleeping in your hiking clothes.

Having an itinerary of where you plan to camp each night is helpful. Do your research beforehand to pick campsites that have a reasonable mileage between them that your party can hike in a day. Checking out backup options is also a good idea so you’re prepared in case another party is already camped at your planned site for the night.

With over a thousand lakes in the Uintas, water is fairly abundant. These lakes offer backpackers reliable refill spots and often have flat areas to camp nearby—remember, camp at least 200 feet from water, trails, and other campers. Knowing where your water sources are and how to filter it can prevent you from schlepping heavy water for long distances when it’s not necessary.

More on Water and Natural Springs

There are many springs within the Uinta mountain range and people differ on needing to filter natural spring water. Some, even after learning the hard way, choose to drink from them without filtering despite the risk. The water is usually so crisp and unlike any drinking water you’ve had from a faucet. Others insist you should always filter your water with no exceptions.

A damp and boggy area just down hill from a spring in the Uintas, UT

I personally understand both arguments and think that it is up to the individual to make that decision for themselves. If you’ve done your research and know that the spring is legit—maybe you or your friend drank from it before—then you’re probably okay. It’s always a risk, and we do not recommend drinking natural spring water without treating it. Having said that, if you do want to drink water from a spring, make sure you can see it coming out of the ground. Walk uphill to make sure your spring is not actually part of a creek or stream. Collect your water as close as possible to where it comes out of the ground.

Having a UV light pen helps reduce the risk of drinking spring water since it sterilizes any pathogens that may have contaminated the water source. A UV pen wont change the taste of your luxurious spring water, and it’s significantly less work than pump or straw water filter systems.

Be Good Stewards

Having a stewardship mindset can make your time in the wilderness fulfilling beyond enjoyable recreation. If you’ve read the previous two articles on single day and overnight backpacking, then you know about Leave No Trace principles and how you can enjoy this beautiful region without leaving an impact. Public lands are part of our shared heritage, and it’s our shared responsibility to treat them with respect.

By Calindra Revier, Content Writer

Additional links:

How to Plan for a Single Day Backpacking Trip

How to Plan for an Overnight Backpacking Trip

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