How To Hike Without A Backpack?

Rilor Staff
Update: July 26, 2022
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Hiking and backpacks are two things that go well together. In fact, they are inseparable. If you want to hike, you have to make sure that you are carrying a backpack with you. 

But can you really hike without a backpack? 

Well, there are cases where you will wish that you could do so. For instance, if you want to travel light, a load on your back would be a cumbersome problem. In other cases, people would want to hike without a pack because they are suffering from injuries. 

Regardless of your situation, it is indeed possible that you can hike without a backpack. You can either go bare or try some backpack alternatives, especially if you are bringing some stuff with you. 

Read on to learn more about this matter.

Do You Need A Backpack When Hiking?

The answer depends on the nature of your trip. 

As mentioned, you can always hike without a backpack. You can do this for hiking routes that are generally safe and short. If the trail is well-marked and commonly trekked by people, then you can discard the idea of carrying a backpack. 

Backpacks are generally necessary for long hikes. On these hikes, you would need an extra supply of food, clothing, and other gear. High-demand hikes, or those hikes that require skill and effort to complete, would need the service of backpacks, as well. Trails that have poor markings are difficult to traverse, as well. These pursuits would need utmost preparation, so backpacks are essential for them. 

Fundamentally, the need for backpacks for hiking depends on the hike that you are going to partake in. Your experience as a hiker, as well as your level of conditioning, may also influence your decision whether or not you are going to use a backpack. As highlighted, a short hike in a very familiar terrain may no longer require you to bring a backpack with you.

How To Pack A Backpack

These backpacks are important since they are your primary storage for your gear. Depending on the size of the pack, it might help you carry essential supplies, such as food, water, clothing, and a first aid kit. These things may come vital in adventures where you have to hike extended distances. They are also crucial in pursuits where there's a possibility that you will encounter bad weather or accidents. 

The rule here is that you need a backpack when you are going extra miles. Of course, with a backpack, you will be able to bring the necessary equipment and supplies that you need to survive the trip. If the hike is short and the weather is fine, not bringing a backpack is acceptable. 

Is It Possible To Experience Shoulder Pain Due To Backpacking?

There's always a possibility of sustaining shoulder pain while hiking. Typically, shoulder pain happens due to poor posture. For instance, if your head tilts forward while your shoulders are round, you will inevitably experience pains and discomforts on these parts. 

Here, the muscles in between your shoulder blades are being stretched out. At the same time, they also shorten the muscles in your chest. When these things happen, it becomes difficult for you to inhale fully. It results in muscle tension in different parts of your shoulders, neck, and head.

This particular posture also happens when you are hiking. If you are carrying a heavy pack or poorly fitted bag, it is possible that your shoulders will go round to accommodate the excess weight. This position creates muscle tensions, which, in turn, would cause various pains in your body. 

When using backpacks, it is essential that you don't overload them. Limit the weight to the prescribed capacity of the backpack. Otherwise, it will strain your body. Furthermore, it is also essential that you use a backpack that is properly fitted to your body. Going to your local stores will help you choose a back that is compatible with the shape of your back and shoulders. 

If you are consistently experiencing back and shoulder pains, you have to see a doctor right away. They will be able to spot the underlying causes of your discomforts. 

How To Hike Without Backpack?

What if you want to hike but don't want to bring a backpack? Is it possible?

Yes. That's very plausible. But at the same time, you have to consider whether or not you need extra supplies and gear for your trip. If you indeed need to bring stuff on your trip, you have to pick an alternative means of storage. 

If a backpack is not your tea, then the following options should be within your consideration:

Shoulder Bags 

If you intend to pack without a backpack, you should opt for a hiking shoulder bag instead. A sling bag is a common option for casual trips. But it is also a plausible utility for hiking and short camping expeditions. 

One of the good things about these shoulder bags is that they don't look bad when you carry them. Hence, you should have no problems carrying them over on your trip. 

These cross bags are a great option for those hikers that have bad shoulders. Instead of lifting the load using your two shoulders, only one carries the weight. It will free the other shoulder that has an injury. 

Most shoulder bags are small in size. They have a carrying capacity of up to 8 liters. But you can find models that have a capacity of more than 20 liters. If your trip doesn't require you to bring many items, then these shoulder bags should be enough. With the right size, you will be able to stow hiking essentials, such as water, food, and a rain jacket. 

Fortunately, there are different shoulder bags that you can use for hiking. Selecting one should be fun!

Lumbar Packs

Another alternative for a backpack is a lumbar pack. Technically speaking, a lumbar pack is a type of bag you hang on your waist. They also include shoulder straps on them. 

They are an ideal choice for individuals that have weak or injured shoulders. The load of these packs is distributed away from the shoulders and is redirected to the lower back and waist portion. 

There are lumbar packs that don't have shoulder straps. Instead, they only strap around your waist. These bags have an inherently high carrying capacity; they are your choice if you are planning to carry lots of gear. Lumbar packs tend to range from 10 liters to 20 liters. You can also find other options that offer more space than conventional backpacks. 

Many hikers and bikers prefer using lumbar packs because they don't burden their back. These bags help them move conveniently without their back becoming sweaty and painful.


Hiking without a backpack is a possible pursuit. It is a refreshing endeavor, especially if you are too exhausted to carry large packs on each of your trips. Of course, there are several considerations that you need to take into account before you do this. As long as the trip is short, familiar, and favorable, then you can hike without bringing anything. 

If the hike requires you to bring some extra supplies, you can try the alternative bags that I've listed here. They should be able to help you complete your trip without the need to strain your back for extended periods. 

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