Are you planning a backpacking adventure?
If so, you’re in the right place.
Whether you’ve been backpacking for years or looking to give the adventure a first-time try, there’s nothing else quite like it. Check out some great backpacking destinations and descriptions of routes on the Hiking Project website for a fun backpacking experience.
What Do You Need to Take on a Backpacking Trip?
Once you have an idea of where you want to go, you might be wondering what to take with you on a backpacking trip. The distance to your backpacking or hiking destination determines what you should bring with you.
The farther your backpacking destination, the more gear and essentials you need to bring along. For instance, a remote location calls for a more detailed backpacking checklist.
You should make a list no matter your destination, whether you’ll be visiting a national park, exploring a forest, hiking deep into the mountains, or walking on nature trails. You should also have a backpacking checklist whether you’re backpacking for a day or multiple days with friends, family, or alone.
Ranging from hiking clothing and footwear to backpacking equipment (sleeping bag, tent, etc.) and personal items, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of everything you need for your outdoor adventure.
Creating Your Backpacking Checklist
You’ll find this backpacking checklist handy when packing for your outdoor adventure. It’ll ensure that you don’t forget any outdoor essential item you’ll need while hiking or camping in the wild.
Based on your trip duration, difficulty, availability and distance from help, and weather, you can tailor the ten necessities to your specific needs.
Just remember, when planning a backpacking trip, strive to strike a balance between packing all of the things you need and keeping the weight of your pack low.
In addition, be sure to print your backpacking checklist for a hard copy version you can easily refer to when packing. It will be helpful to have this with you while you’re away.
Backpacking and Related Gear
If you’re going to go backpacking, you definitely need a good backpack! When choosing a backpack, consider your ideal backpack capacity, fit, and available features.
Backpack Type and Capacity
The bulk and weight of what you want to carry and the length of your trip determines the size of your backpack.
Weekend backpacks range in capacity from 30 to 50 liters to last for a 1 to 3 day trip. They’re ideal for light gear. Multi-day backpacks last for 3 to 5 days and range in capacity from 50 to 80 liters. The packs are versatile for day and night trips in warm weather, and for backcountry skiing, which explains their popularity.
Extended trip packs last for at least 5 days and have a capacity of 70+ liters. These extended trip packs are ideal for adults backpacking with kids and winter treks that go for more than a night to accommodate extra gear and clothing.
Features of Your Backpack
Different features will influence the functionality of your backpack. For example, consider frameless backpacks versus those with external or internal frames.
Other features include:
Consider your torso length, not height. Your waist size and torso length determine the right backpacking fit. Also consider youth- and women-specific backpacks. Sternum strap and load lifter straps are also key considerations for backpack fit adjustments.
The backpacking gear to add to your checklist should include:
Optional backpacking gear includes:
Clothing and Footwear
What’s the weather forecast for your hiking destination? Check the forecast for your trip and choose the right clothing and footwear for the predicted conditions.
Pack extra clothes to prepare for unplanned nights and changes in weather. Choose clothes with protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Your terrain determines the right shoes to wear for your backpacking trip.
Trail runners or hiking shoes are ideal for smooth, gentle terrains. However, boots offer more support for treks on rugged, rocky trails.
When choosing the right clothing for your trip, consider:
The properties of hiking clothing to watch for include:
Popular fabric options for your backpacking trip include:
When layering in cool weather, the base undergarment options include:
Clothing options to wear on the trail from your head to toe include:
Fleece pants and jackets, and a puffy vest or jacket with enough insulation is ideal for mid-layering.
Waterproof/breathable pants and a rain jacket for outer layering offer protection from rain, wind chill and hypothermia.
Waterproof gaiters, tall leather hiking boots, and bug-protective clothing offer protection from environmental conditions.
The right hiking boots match your hiking destination and how you hike. When selecting footwear or hiking boots, consider mountaineering boots, ultralight trail shoes, hiking shoes, backpacking boots, and day hiking boots.
The parts of hiking boots include the lowers, uppers, outsoles, midsoles. The hiking boot upper materials include:
The upper materials influence your boot’s breathability, weight, water resistance, and durability. The midsole cushions your feet for comfort and durable. The most popular midsole materials include EVA and polyurethane.
Plates and shanks make up the internal support for your hiking shoes. Boot outsoles are usually made from rubber and hardened with carbon. Lug patterns improve traction and grip while heel brake minimizes slides on steep terrains.
Make sure your crampons are compatible with your boots for better safety outdoors, especially when winter backpacking or mountaineering.
In terms of fit, determine your foot size, include orthotics, try on your boots at the end of the day, walk in the boots for a while, wear proper socks, find the right boot volume, and opt for a familiar brand.
Footbeds or aftermarket insoles and change your knot type for a better fit. Your clothing and footwear checklist include:
Clothing for cold or rainy weather
Food and Water
Tasty food will nourish and strengthen you during an overnight or multiple-day backpacking trip. Every person embarking on a trip needs 2,500 to 4,500 calories of food daily.
How do you know how much food to carry? You have to consider your body size, your body weight, the expected intensity of activities you’ll engage in, the duration of your trip, and the number of calories you burn daily. Opt for lightweight portable foods – and remember that if you intend to cover long miles and the size of your backpacking group is large, you’ll need more food. The converse is also true.
Create a backpacking meal plan to ensure you bring enough food with you for all the backpacking days. Consider the days you won’t be cooking in the plan and carry extra food and fuel (without overdoing it) to ensure you don’t get a shortage.
Also consider your ultralight backpacking needs and how to store and handle your food outdoors. Pack a variety of foods, including proteins, carbs, and fats. Vary the textures (crunchy, soft, crispy, crumbly, etc.) and flavors (sour, salty, spicy, and sweet).
When planning a backpacking trip, it’s wise to pack snacks like jerky, energy bars, nuts, and hard cheese to crunch on the trail. However, you need a heavier meal for lunch.
Nuts, seeds, and baguettes are some fresh foods to pack. Fresh produce such as broccoli, carrots, onions, bell peppers, apples, kale, oranges, and snap peas can last a day or two depending on the prevailing climatic conditions.
Add spices, flavored beverages, and lightweight food options. Dehydrate your meals and freeze them as necessary. Plan your meals well and carry enough food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Don’t forget to pack enough snacks.
As for staying hydrated, think about total activity and intensity level, weather, trip duration, age, body type, and rate of sweating. You need about half a liter of water to drink each hour in moderate temperature and when engaging in moderate activity.
Make sure there’s enough water within reach and drink it often. Your food and water checklist include:
Kitchen supplies help with food preparation and eating while backpacking. Your kitchen supplies checklist includes:
First Aid Kit
Disasters or medical emergencies may arise anytime, which means you need to be prepared. A first aid kit can help you attend to an emergency medical need outdoors. You’ll need:
Your first aid kit checklist include:
You can buy a basic first aid kit or an advanced emergency medical kit to cater for your emergency needs when hiking or camping outdoors. You can also customize an existing kit to accommodate your unique needs or even build a first aid kit from scratch for custom use.
Navigation is key when backpacking. The right navigation gear helps you find your way during a hike or trek. Navigation tools are essential in pinpointing your direction and finding your way back on-route in case you get lost.
The right navigation gear depends on your personal preferences, budget, type of trip, and intended destination. Your checklist includes the following:
Whether you opt for the GPS or not, you can’t substitute it for a compass and map – those two items are a must-have when backpacking.
Why? Because a compass and map help you navigate your way across any backpacking location. Make sure your map is enclosed in a waterproof sleeve for protection from water or moisture.
Health and Hygiene
Your health and hygiene are still important even when backpacking. You need to keep your body clean, especially your hands. Your checklist should include the following:
Optional health and hygiene items include:
The sun’s ultraviolet rays are harmful to the skin and can cause skin cancer after prolonged exposure. When planning a backpacking trip to a destination with hot weather or a great deal of sunlight, you need something to protect your skin from the harsh sun rays.
It’s even recommended to protect your skin on a cloudy day. Your sun protection checklist includes:
Tools and Repair Kits
Your repair tools should include:
Other optional things you may need to bring with you to a backpacking trip include:
Some personal items to include in your backpack are as follows:
10 Must-Have Backpacking Necessities
We’ve covered a large list of items already, which may be overwhelming as you plan your trip. Let’s narrow it down to the most important ones.
Whichever items you decide to include in your backpacking checklist, the following are a must-pack for your next hiking adventure:
Recommended Backpacking Brands for Beginners
Whereas the market is flooded with hundreds of brands that manufacture high quality backpacking gear, beginners may be spoiled for choice.
If you’re new and not sure about where to begin looking for your preferred gear, consider the following two brands for most backpacking gear you may need.
Although only two brands are mentioned, the list of top backpacking brands is endless. These two are meant to help you get started.
Founded by Glen Van Peski, Gossamer Gear is a pioneer manufacturer of ultralight backpacking gear. The founder was hiking with his son’s Boy Scout group in the mountains when he was inspired to design a lightweight backpack.
The writings of a popular ultralight backpacking pioneer and rock climber, Ray Jardine, also encouraged Glen to begin sewing his own backpacks. His craft improved so much that other hikers began making backpack orders from him.
Today, the company manufactures shelters, cooking equipment, trekking poles, and related accessories. Gossamer Gear backpacks are popular. They’re made from Robic nylon to balance durability, weight, and cost metrics.
The backpacks are also highly functional and comfortable for prolonged carrying on your back during long treks. The Gossamer Gear Mariposa Backpack supports multi-day backpacking trips, making it one of the best backpacks for you.
Based in Austin, Texas, the company manufactures ultralight backpacking gear for lightweight travels.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear
Hyperlite Mountain Gear is a leading backpacking manufacturer. It designs and manufactures tents and shelters, ultralight backpacks, and related accessories.
The company was founded in 2000 by Mike St. Pierre. The lack of long-lasting, design-driven, and ultralight backpacking gear drove him to start his own backpacking company.
He focused on designing minimalist product designs using ultralight materials. The products are only made with critical features to reduce them to the minimum basics required to get tasks done.
Dyneema Composite Fabrics (DCF), also referred to as Cuben Fibers, are used to make the backpacks. The material is strong, waterproof, and ultralight. However, it’s a bit costly.
The Hyperlite Mountain Gear backpacks are popular among lightweight backpackers and true hikers. They’re bomb-proof, comfy, and ultralight. The company also manufactures pillow stuff sacks, tents, and tarps.
Feel free to explore other brands when creating your backpacking checklist.
Maintenance and Cleaning
When backpacking, opt for essentials that are easy to clean and maintain. Make sure they’re strong, durable and made from dirt-resistant materials.
As mentioned before, you need a backpacking checklist when planning for an adventure outdoors, be it hiking, mountaineering, or camping. The right list ensures you pack all the necessities you’ll need for the number of days you intend to trek or hike.
Whether you’re backpacking for an overnight, two day, three day, or multi-day outdoor adventure trip, you have to pack enough essentials to bring with you. With a complete first aid kit with medical supplies and sufficient food for everyone in your group, you’ll be in for endless adventures!
Visit Amazon today for any of the items in your backpacking checklist to prepare for your upcoming backcountry adventure.