What are the essentials for backpacking? Here's the ultimate backpacking gear list of everything you could possibly need to stay safe on your next backing trip!
What is backpacking?
Backpacking is a low-cost, independent way to travel. Someone who goes backpacking is called a backpacker.
There are even a few kinds of backpackers—some travel internationally or through cities, carrying all of their possessions in their backpack. Others go out into the wilderness and hike for several days at a time.
The kind of backpacking trip will require a different packing list. This post focuses specifically on packing for a wilderness backpacking trip.
What is the difference between hiking and backpacking?
If someone is going hiking, they are often going into a scenic area for a long walk. They could go on trails or up mountains, being pushing to varying strenuous limits.
The length and challenge of the hike will depend on what the person chooses, but usually hiking is no longer than a day. Want to go hiking?
Here's a hiking gear list of everything you could possibly need to stay safe while hiking!
Backpacking is essentially just a step up from hiking. When your hiking trip lasts longer than one day and you're required to sleep out in the wilderness, you're backpacking.
Backpacking requires you to carry everything you need to survive in your backpack. You will pack your sleeping gear, nutrition, clothes, and all other essentials.
Stay safe while backpacking
Typically backpacking takes place in a remote location. In order to stay safe, it's important that you take the time to prepare. Follow a packing list and double check everything you will need before you leave.
Always make an emergency plan and let someone know your trip plans before you leave.
Backpacking gear list
While this is a full backpacking gear list, you definitely don't need every item on this list. It's important to consider the duration of your backpacking trip, the weather, and the conditions of the trail.
Split up the gear between you and your backpacking buddies to lighten the load! Remember to double check for the essentials before you leave to help you stay safe.
Discount backpacking gear
Want to know the best places to purchase discount outdoor gear? Here’s a guide to the best places for purchasing outdoor gear without breaking the bank.
How to pack your backpack
Each person will pack their backpack in a way that makes sense to them based on preference. If you've never packed your backpack before, here are a few tips:
- Pack your sleeping bag on the bottom - Your sleeping bag and other sleeping items can go at the very bottom of your pack. They are typically bigger and bulkier items and you won't need them during the day!
- Place the heaviest items on the part closest to your back - Putting items close to your back will help the weight to be balanced throughout the whole pack. It will make your trip more comfortable!
- Put the lightest item on the outside and on the top - This will also help the weight balance of your pack. Your raincoat, coffee mug, bowl and spoon—all of these are good options to keep outside or in the brain of your pack (the pocket on the top.
- Keep easy access things on top - Make sure to keep the items you'll want to use the most in the brain of your pack. Think of things like sunglasses, sunscreen, water, and other items you might need during the day.
- Waterproof Everything - You want to make sure everything that isn't a waterproof material is kept dry! To easily do this, pack things in double ziplocs. It will be important to waterproof gear like clothes, lighters, journals, sleeping bags, and food.
Here's a video from an expert on how to pack your backpack!
A hiking backpack is one of the most important pieces of gear because it's how you will carry all of your gear. The size of the hiking backpack you will need depends on how much gear you will bring.
The best way to choose a backpack is to figure out the gear you will need and make sure it will fit in the volume of the backpack.
What size backpack should you bring on your trip? That will depend on how long you're going to be gone. Here is a breakdown of backpack size options:
- Daypack: If you're going hiking for a couple of hours, this size backpack (10-25 liters) will work great.
- Weekend Backpack: If you're hiking all day or overnight, a weekend backpack (30-55 liters) should be able to fit all of your hiking gear.
- Multi-Day Backpack: Hiking trips that will last from 3-5 days will require a larger backpack. These backpacks are usually 50-80 liters and are large enough to fit nutrition, sleeping items, clothes, and other essentials for being gone a couple of days.
What is the best hiking backpack?
The best hiking backpacks are durable, comfortable, and adjustable. Helpful features to consider for a backpack are adjustable straps, extra padding, and how it feels while you're hiking.
If you don't notice the backpack while you're hiking, that's how you know it's comfortable! Other features to consider for a hiking backpack are water resistance, ventilation, and pockets.
I like when backpacks have multiple pockets to keep all my hiking gear organized.
There are plenty of awesome options available online. You could choose a backpack after doing a little bit of research. You can also go to the store and try on a couple of options to find one that will work best for you.
I love Osprey packs and would definitely recommend checking them out if you're not sure where to start!
A sleeping bag is another really important piece of gear! It’s what will keep you the most warm at night.
It’s helpful to have a bag that is light and packable since you will be carrying it in your backpack and need to make sure there’s room for the rest of your gear.
You can also consider the shape of the bag and how much covering it provides. I have a bag that zips all the way around my head, which I love in colder temperatures!
Research the weather rating to figure out how warm of a bag it is and if it will work for the temperatures you’ll be camping in!
For example, I have two sleeping bags: a warm and cold weather bag that I pack depending on what time of the year I go backpacking.
Sleeping bags are one of those gear items that can really vary in price. It’s possible to find cheap options online, but it might not be as durable or high-quality as a more expensive bag.
Consider how much you’ll be using it and what qualities are really important to you. I go backpacking often, so for me it’s important to have a bag that is light, packable, and warm!
- Warm Weather Sleeping Bag: Zero Degree Big Agnes Women's Sunbeam (FireLine Eco) Sleeping Bag Sleeping Bag
In addition to your sleeping bag, a sleeping pad is helpful for backpacking trips. Not only is this piece of gear going to go underneath your bag to keep you warm, but it can also be really helpful to sit on while you’re hanging out around the fire.
When you’re choosing a sleeping pad, you’ll want to consider how much it weighs, if it is waterproof, how small it packs, and the durability.
My personal preference is to use a small, fold-up sleeping pad that I can carry on the outside of my backpack. Some people really like blow-up sleeping pads, but I haven’t converted because I like that my fold-up pad is ready to go, durable, and won’t let me down at night.
- Fold-up Sleeping Pad: Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Ultralight Foam Backpacking Mattress
- Inflatable Sleeping Pad: Sleepingo Camping Sleeping Pad - Mat, (Large), Ultralight 14.5 OZ, Best Sleeping Pads for Backpacking, Hiking Air Mattress - Lightweight, Inflatable & Compact, Camp Sleep Pad
A camping pillow is optional. I went years without having a pillow and just packed use a piece of clothes I had in my bag.
However, the more trips I took, the more I realized my experience would be improved by having a pillow.
There are super compact, lightweight, blow-up pillows that are life-changing. It hardly takes up any space so I bring mine on every trip!
- Camping Pillow: Sea to Summit Inflatable Pillow
Tent and rain fly
A tent is one of your best friends on backpacking trips! It is the piece of gear that will protect you the most on rainy, cold nights. There are definitely better tents than others.
In my opinion, it’s better to have a tent that doesn’t cause you any troubles and makes things easy. I want my tent to be quick and easy to set up and keep me dry. I want it to be big enough to fit me, but not have extra room because that will cause extra weight and I will only be in there while I’m sleeping.
Since this is something that will be carried, it’s important that it is lightweight!
Make sure the tent isn’t super bulky and has compact folding poles and a rain fly. I can’t stress the rain-fly enough… make sure your tent has one! Most people think the purpose of a tent is to protect you from animals, but honestly, it’s really for the rain!
My favorite tent is a 2-person tent that fits me and my husband perfectly. It’s easy to set-up and keeps us dry.
- 2-person Tent: MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2-Person Lightweight Backpacking Tent
On each backpacking trip, you will need to pack one or two tarps. You will need one tarp to go underneath your tent!
The tarp under the tent will keep the bottom of your tent dry if it rains. (Trust me, I’ve been lazy and skipped this and I ended up in a puddle of water…). Because the tarp is going on the ground, make sure the material is waterproof and durable.
The size of the tarp doesn't need to be huge - it just needs to be large enough to cover the ground under your tent.
A second tarp can be packed if you plan to make a tarp shelter for sleeping. If you’re planning on sleeping on the ground, in a hammock, or anywhere outside of a tent, you’ll need to make a tarp shelter to keep you dry in case it rains.
Practice making a tarp shelter before your trip so you know how to set it up! Make sure to pack plenty or paracord to keep your tarp up.
Pro Tip: Keep your ground tarp and shelter tarp separate! Use the same tarp for the ground every time because it’s more likely to get holes, which you won’t want on your shelter tarp.
- Basic Tarp: AmazonBasics Waterproof Camping Tarp
Hammock and straps
Some people choose to sleep in a hammock instead of a tent. Make sure to check the area you’re going backpacking to make sure there are plenty of trees and if the area allows for hammocks.
I love sleeping in my hammock and pack it for every trip I have the option to sleep in it. It might sound strange to sleep in a hammock, but it is so comfy to be like a little cocoon in the night!
- Hammock: ENO, Eagles Nest Outfitters DoubleNest Lightweight Camping Hammock, 1 to 2 Person
- Hammock straps: ENO, Eagles Nest Outfitters Atlas Hammock Straps
An important consideration for hiking is what you are going to wear! No matter your hiking location, you will probably feel differently while you're hiking from when you start.
ALWAYS check the weather!
For rain or elevation, you'll probably want a couple upper-body layers. Layers can also be important for sun protection. Even if you're wearing sunscreen, wearing a long-sleeve shirt can help protect you from the sun.
Your best bet will be to pack extra layers in your backpack.
Depending on what you choose to bring, a few extra clothing items really won't add that much weight or take up much room in your bag.
The philosophy I follow for most trips is “wear one, pack one.” If I’m wearing one t-shirt and a pair of shorts, I will pack an extra of both. Remember that you won’t pack for a backpacking trip like a normal trip!
You don’t need to pack a new outfit everyday. You won’t have enough room in your backpack!
For the t-shirts you pack, a tech fabric that is quick-drying, sort, and has a natural feel are my favorite. Typically these kinds of shirts wicks sweat and dries really fast.
Consider how comfortable the shirts are and make sure it feels okay when you’re wearing a backpack!
- Tech T-Shirt: Under Armour Women's Tech Twist T-Shirt
If you’re going on a cold weather trip, packing an insulated jacket will be important. Consider a jacket that packs really small but still have insulation or is made out of a fabric that will keep you warm.
I love to bring an omni-heat jacket that is super versatile and lightweight.
- Insulated Jacket: Columbia Women's Delta Ridge Down Jacket, Black, Medium
The amount of top layers will depend on your trip. Consider the temperature during the day, night, and how it might change.
I choose to bring a long-sleeve, jacket, or coat based purely on the weather predictions.
- Women's Pullover: Under Armour Women's Tech Twist ½ Zip Long Sleeve Pullover
- Men's Pullover: Under Armour Men's Tech 2.0 ½ Zip-Up
I would recommend underwear that is synthetic, comfortable, and will work best for you.
The biggest piece of advice for socks is to BRING MULTIPLE PAIRS OF SOCKS.
A good pair of hiking socks can be really important for comfort on your hike! Wearing the right pair of socks will also help prevent blisters. You'll want to consider the wicking, fit, padding, and how thick they are.
My favorite socks are wicking, light, crew socks (my favorite height) kind. I love to wear light wool pairs like these all year round. Check them out:
- Mid Crew Socks: Women's Smartwool Hike Light Cushion Ankle Sock
- Men's Socks: Smartwool Hiking Crew Socks Men’s Medium Cushioned Wool Performance Sock
Similar to underwear, packing a sports bra will really depend on your preference. My suggestion is to pack one that is tight, moisture-wicking, and supportive.
I love all Under Armor sports bras and wear the same thing if I'm running or hiking!
- Sports Bra: Under Armour Women’s Sports Bra
I NEVER BACKPACK WITHOUT A RAIN JACKET.
Even if there's no chance of rain.
I have been dumped on too many times to want to risk it. Investing in a rain jacket that actually works was one of the best decisions I ever made!
Whatever rain jacket you bring, just make sure it covers your entire top and is waterproof (not all rain jackets are waterproof!) I also recommend looking for a jacket with a hood and that zips all the way.
If it doesn't rain but gets chilly, you could also use this as a warmer layer and then you don't need to bring a top layer!
Here's my favorite rain jacket:
- REI Co-op Women's Talusphere Rain Jacket
- Marmot womens Precip Lightweight Waterproof Rain Jacket
- Marmot Men's Precip Lightweight Waterproof Rain Jacket
The idea is to wear shorts that are comfortable, durable, wicking, and flexible. If you’re unsure about a pair to pack, practice wearing them and see how it feels.
I’m not picky and wear the same shorts while I’m backpacking as I do around my house, on a run, or just lounging around.
They have a tech fabric and dry quick and are very comfortable to me.
Similar to shorts, the ultimate goal of the pants is comfort and protection. Consider pants that are water-resistant, lightweight, comfortable, and durable.
If you’re hiking through the woods, things might get dicey and you definitely don’t want to worry about your pants having any trouble!
Outdoor Research makes really awesome hiking pants. I’ve gone almost 10 days wearing these lightweight pants so I feel confident recommending them!
Some people will wear pants the entire time and not worry about leggings. I sometimes like to switch things up and hike in leggings as well. I also enjoy wearing a pair of leggings when I’m at my campsite hanging out and then for sleeping.
If you pack leggings, consider a material that wicks sweat and dries fast. It’s helpful to have breathable material, a waistband, and comfortable and durable material for hiking.
These tight, high-waisted, moisture-wicking leggings are my favorite because they make me feel like I’m not even wearing pants.
That might sound weird, but I love wearing bottoms that I don’t notice because it’s super annoying to me to have bottoms that fall down, cause chaffing, or are distracting during backpacking.
Like a rain jacket, rain pants can be very helpful when the weather is sketchy.
I didn’t use to pack rain pants but then had a bad experience and now I will always bring them! Consider pants that have taped seams, are made from a waterproof and breathable material, and are lightweight.
There are several expensive rain pants out there, but I personally just bought a cheaper pair. This is one of those gear items I just stuff into my backpack and hopefully not need unless it is an emergency!
Bandana / headband
I like to pack a headband to help keep the sweat and hair out of my face! Pack a headband that is thick, non-slip, and supportive!
In addition to using a headband for my hair, one of my biggest tips is to wear one over your eyes when you go to sleep.
Since you don’t have blinds when you’re camping, this will help you sleep longer so you don’t wake up totally with the sun!
- Headbands: Buff Headbands
Wearing a hat is a great way to protect your face from the sun while you’re hiking. Consider a hat that is breathable, lightweight, and has a full brim.
- Running Hat: Nike Womens Women's Featherlight Running Cap
- Booney Hat: Columbia Unisex-Adult Bora Bora Booney
Even if you're hiking in a covered area, it can still get sunny! Bring a pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sunshine.
Consider a pair of polarized sunglasses for extra protection!
My favorite brand of sunglasses is Goodr. They have affordable sunglasses that are great for outdoor activities because they are no slip, no bounce, and all polarized.
- Polarized Sunglasses: Goodr OG Sunglasses
One of the most important pieces of gear for your hike is a pair of hiking boots! You'll want to consider the comfort, support, grip, material, size, and cut of the boots.
- Comfort: It's important to wear boots that are actually comfortable because you're going to be wearing them all day! I recommend wearing a new pair of hiking boots around your home before you hit the trail to help break them in.
- Grip: Consider the amount of tread on the bottom of the boot. What kind of terrain are you going to be on the most? Hiking on dirt is a lot different than rocks or snow and would require a different kind of boot!
- Material: There are so many different kinds of materials for boots. The main divide is between leather and synthetic. I love to have full-grain leather because they're very supportive and sturdy for long, tough hikes.
- Size: I usually size up a half size in hiking boots so that I can wear thicker hiking socks. Additionally, your feet might get hot and swell up after being outside all day, so having some extra room might be more comfortable. Making sure the boots fit because if they rub your feet in a weird way, you might get blisters.
- Cut: The cut of the hiking boot refers to how high up the boot is on your ankle. Low-cut hiking boots don't provide any ankle support while high-cut are very supportive.
My favorite brand of hiking boots is Salomon! They make really supportive, durable, and comfortable hiking boots I bring on every sort of hike.
- Salomon Women's X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boots
- Columbia Women's Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped Hiking Shoe
- Salomon Quest Prime GORE-TEX Men's Backpacking Boot
After a long day of backpacking, it’s so nice to change into a pair of camp shoes.
Camp shoes are lightweight, comfortable shoes you can wear around your campsite. You won’t do any sort of serious hiking in these, they are just for lounging!
Make sure the pair you pack are lightweight since you’ll be carrying them.
- Camp Shoes: Teva Women's W Ember Moc Slipper
Packing a beanie is helpful for colder weather. Whether you’re wearing it while hiking or while sleeping, beanies are a great way to get some extra warmth in the cold.
If you’re going on a cold weather trip, pack a pair of gloves for some extra warmth! It’ll be really helpful to have a warm of quick drying, starchy, comfortable gloves to keep your hands warm while you’re out of your tent or hiking around.
- Cold Weather Gloves: Mountain Made Outdoor Gloves for Men & Women
There are several other optional items you can pack based on what you might like to us. These items are usually packed depending on how much room you have available in your backpack.
This isn’t a necessity, but packing a book to read before bed or on a break during the day can provide some extra entertainment when you’re off-the-grid.
Journal & pen
Packing a journal is a great way to reflect, think, and pray on a backpacking trip. I always pack two journals: a tiny adventure journal and a writing journal.
My adventure journal is where I document the cool adventures of trips (where I hiked, camped, explored, etc.) and the writing journal is where I write down ideas, reflections, and more.
The wilderness provides so many amazing experiences so I want to write them down to remember!
Several people enjoy carrying a camera or phone on their hike so they are able to document the adventure! It's so cool to take a picture at the top of a mountain or in a new place.
Every smartphone has a camera so if you're already bringing a phone, there's no need to bring an additional camera.
However, if you are planning on taking some action shots or videos, you might want to consider a GoPro. Remember to waterproof your camera or phone in case it rains!
Here's one of the more popular GoPros available:
- GoPro HERO7 Black — Waterproof Action Camera with Touch Screen 4K Ultra HD Video 12MP Photos 720p Live Streaming Stabilization
If you think you might be hiking when it's dark, you will need a light! A headlamp is more convenient than a flashlight because it keep your hands free.
You'll be able to see the trails and your surroundings well. Having a headlamp with the strobe-light function can help in emergency situations as well. When purchasing a headlamp, consider the different power modes, batteries, and if it is waterproof.
Don't forget to bring extra batteries!
My favorite headlamp:
If you have room for extra batteries, pack them in case your headlamp dies!
Several people choose to hike with trekking poles. While trekking poles aren't a necessity, they can provide balance and help relieve strain from your back and legs.
Trekking poles can really make a difference when hiking on rocky and hilly terrain. When purchasing a pair, consider the height, material, durability, and affordability.
A multi-tool can be a really helpful piece of equipment when you don't have a lot of resources around. From repairs to fixes, a multi-tool can really save you in an emergency situation!
When considering a multi-tool, think about what you might need it for, the tools available, and where you will carry it.
One of the most popular multi-tools on the market:
Whether you'll be gone for one day or one week, nutrition is a very important consideration for your trip. There are so many factors to what you will pack, and I would suggest using this post as a starting point to get you planning.
Water bottle or hydration system
The rule of thumb I follow is to bring 3 liters of water per day. You can either bring a water bladder that goes inside of your backpack or a few water bottles that equal 3 liters.
However, you'll need to check where you are backpacking to see if there are water sources available.
It's so important to research if there is water available on the trails so you can plan the correct amount of water to bring!
Here are some options for a bladder and bottle:
- WACOOL 3L 3Liter 100oz BPA Free EVA Hydration Pack Bladder, Leak-Proof Water Reservoir
- Vmini Water Bottle with New Wide Handle Straw Lid, Wide Mouth Vacuum Insulated 18/8 Stainless Steel, 32-40 oz
Water filter / bleach
Make a plan for how you will get drinkable water. Whether you're going to pack bleach to add to water or use a filter, make your plan.
- Water Filter: LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking, Camping, Travel, and Emergency Preparedness
- LifeStraw Flex Advanced Water Filter with Gravity Bag - Removes Lead, Bacteria, Parasites and Chemicals Blue, 1 gallon
Electrolytes are important because they help balance the amount of water in your body and move nutrients to your cells. Most electrolytes can come in a tablet that dissolves in water or even a little packet.
My favorite electrolytes:
I consider coffee a part of my daily nutrition! Seriously, I’m not going to sacrifice a cup while I’m backpacking.
There are several different methods to make coffee on a backpacking trip, and my favorite is with an Aeropress. It’s lightweight, quick, and easy to make a morning cup.
I will ALWAYS bring this on a backpacking trip. I switch up what kind of coffee I bring, but it’s always a smooth dark roast.
It’s totally up to you to choose what kind of coffee you want to bring on a trip. I usually pack some in a small ziplock so that I don’t carry a big bag. If you would rather pack instant coffee you can add to hot water, that’s fine as well.
- Coffee: Death Wish Coffee Company Ground Coffee, 16 oz
- Intant Coffee: Starbucks Premium Instant Coffee
It's important to bring nutrients while you're hiking! If you're going to be gone for more than 3 hours, it's important to consider nutrition.
Your body needs to refuel from the exertion so some hiking snacks can fix that!
I like to bring high-protein snacks when I go hiking. Protein bars, trail mix, and foods with a balance of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats will give you the fuel you need for your hike!
I avoid snacks that will melt (like chocolate), that take up a lot of space (bags of chips), and that aren't going to give me the fuel I need. If you're going to be gone longer than a day, consider all of the meals you will need and make a plan to fuel.
Check out this post full of my favorite hiking snacks.
The meals you pack will depend on if you are backpacking or car camping. If you are backpacking, you'll want to keep meals light and compact.
The amount of hygiene items you pack will be based on personal preference. I like to pack all of the basic hygiene items so that I can feel as fresh and clean as possible while I'm backpacking.
However, I have a lot of friends that don't pack anything!
Here are some daily hygiene possibilities:
- Face Wipes
- Face Wipes: Combat Wipes Active Outdoor Wet Wipes | Extra Thick, Ultralight, Biodegradable, Body & Hand Cleansing/Refreshing Cloths for Camping, Gym & Backpacking w/Natural Aloe & Vitamin E
If you're outside, it's a good idea to wear sunscreen! Even if there are trees and cloud coverage, there's still a chance to get a burn from UV ways.
I like to wear sunscreen lotion on my face and sunscreen spray on my body. Don't forget to reapply!
- Facial Sunscreen EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 for Sensitive or Acne-Prone Skin, Oil-free, Dermatologist-Recommended Mineral-Based Zinc Oxide Formula
- Body Sunscreen: Sun Bum Original Sunscreen Spray | Vegan and Reef Friendly (Octinoxate & Oxybenzone Free) Broad Spectrum Moisturizing UVA/UVB Sunscreen with Vitamin E | 6 oz
I always bring chapstick when I go backpacking! This became a lifesaver when I started going on long hikes.
Being in the sun all day can really cause some chapped lips, so considering a chapstick with UV protection really can help. I would definitely wear this if you decide to not wear a hat as well.
- Lip Balm: Sun Bum Lip Balm, SPF 30, 0.15 oz. Stick, 1 Count, Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB Protection, Hypoallergenic, Paraben Free, Gluten Free, Vegan
Similar to sunscreen, it might be a good idea to consider bugspray. However, this will depend on where you're backpacking, the time of year, and the climate.
If it's a hot summer evening, I will always wear bugspray to avoid getting mosquito bites!
A bobo bag is a small bag filled with the items you need to poop in the woods. You'll need a trowel, toilet paper, and ziplock bag.
The trowel is helpful to dig a hole in the ground to do your business and then cover it up. The toilet paper and ziplock are optional based on how you decide to clean up.
If you decide to use toilet paper, you'll need to pack it out in a ziplock so that you're following all of the guidelines for leave no trace. If you don't want to pack out any toilet paper, you can use a rock, leaves, or whatever else you find in nature. I promise there are great smooth rocks out there!
A Kula Cloth is a reusable antimicrobial pee cloth. This pee cloth is a way that to stay comfortable AND have a positive impact on the environment at the same time.
This item is new to me and is a total game-changer!
Because you won't have regular access to soap and water, it's very important that you bring hand sanitizer to kill germs and bacteria!
- Hand Sanitizer: The Honest Company hand sanitizer spray
Pack necessary menstrual items if you think your period might come while you're backpacking. I swear by the Saalt Cup! A period cup makes it WAY easier to deal with business than tampons.
Don't forget to pack a ziplock to pack out your used products to follow the Leave No Trace guidelines.
Navigation and safety
While you're backpacking, it's important to be prepared! Always make sure you have everything you need for navigation and safety.
Have an emergency plan and let someone know (who isn't going with you) your plan before you leave.
Most parks will have maps at the trailheads so you can take a picture of it before you head out.
There are also navigation apps with maps you're able to download if you're going to be gone for a couple of days. I always bring a paper map (waterproof ones are great!) and download a map on my phone.
It's so smart to have backup!
In order to correctly use a map, you'll need a compass. Most smartwatches and phones have one built in, but if that isn't an option, make sure to bring another.
Some wilderness areas require a backpacking permit. In fact, most national parks and national forests require a permit, especially for groups of hikers going out for multiple days.
It's important to do some research before leaving on a hike to make sure you have whatever papers you need. If you a permit is required, follow the proper steps to receive one and carry it with you.
If you're planning on hiking in unfamiliar places, it's a good idea to bring a GPS or safety device.
There are apps you can download on your phone if you don't want to make a completely new purchase, but make sure you have a plan.
If you're purchasing a GPS device, consider the maps, waterproof capabilities, battery life, readability, and affordability.
- GPS option: Garmin Inreach Mini 2
First aid kit
The contents of your first-aid kit will depend on your needs and resources. I usually pack at least a small first-aid kit, along with some other important items based on the people backpacking with me.
You never know what might happen so having a few extras can be helpful.
- Small First-Aid Kit: Adventure Medical Kits UltraLight and Watertight
Even though you might not have service for your backpacking trip, it might be helpful to pack your phone in case of emergency. I usually pack my phone in a waterproof case and use it for pictures.
Solar power charger
If you are going to use your phone, packing a solar-powered charger is a good idea so your battery can recharge. A lightweight and durable charger will be your best option!
- Charger: Solar Powered Phone Charger
- Charger: Portable Charger 9000mAh Ultra-Compact Power Bank with Built-in Cable
Other personal items
Depending on where you're backpacking, it could be helpful to pack personal items like an identification or cash. Look into where you'll be going and see if you'll need this!
The kitchen items you pack will depend on how you decide to cook. The affordability and durability of these items will depend on your needs.
For backpacking trips, it's important to consider the weight and size of items since you will need to fit these into your backpack.
If you're traveling in a group, it will be easier to split up larger items among the group.
Because it’s important to me that I’m able to make dinner quick and easy, I like to use a stove I know can get water boiling fast.
Consider the size, weight, and durability of a stove. If you’re backpacking in a group, you might need to pack more than one stove so you can boil pots of water simultaneously.
A stove is only helpful if you have fuel! Make sure to pack fuel bottles, and enough fuel to get you through your trip.
Serving spoon & spatula
A serving spoon and spatula will be helpful while you’re cooking. Think about what you will be cooking and the kitchen utensils you will need.
Consider packing tools that are multipurpose so you can use them for more than one cooking method to avoid packing extra tools. Make sure the tools are durable, easy to use, and easy to clean.
- Multi-Use Tongs & Spoons: Cusinine Heart 2-in-1 Silicone Food Tongs, transform from tongs to cooking spoons, salad servers, tongs, fork and spoon, all in 1
Pots & lids
Whether you're boiling water for coffee, making dinner, or even baking a dessert, you will likely need pots and lids to cook.
It's great to have pots and lids that are lightweight, packable, compact, and durable. Make sure they are clean before they go into your backpack!
- Pot: MSR Alpine Stowaway Pot
- Cookset: 1 Liter Camping Cookware Mess Kit Backpacking Gear & Hiking Outdoors Bug Out Bag Cooking Equipment 10 Piece Cookset
Depending on what you plan to make on your trip, a skillet can be a helpful tool to elevate your meals. Like the pots you will bring, make sure its lightweight compact, and durable.
- Skillet MSR Alpine Fry Pan
In addition to having a pot, a pot grabber can be a helpful tool when you're cooking! This can easily protect your hands while you're cooking.
- Silicone Pot Grabber: GSI Outdoors 74010 MicroGripper Silicone Pot Gripper
- Aluminum Pot Grabber: Olicamp Aluminum Pot Lifter
A personal bowl is what you will eat all of your meals with! Also, it's great to have a bowl that is easy to clean and lightweight.
Some backpacking bowls have lids and others are collapsible—it all depends on your preference and what you want! I like the bowl with the lid to keep critters and dirt out of my bowl.
There are so many options, so it just depends on your preference.
- Light My Fire BPA-Free Original Spork BIO
- Orblue 2-PACK 4-in-1 Camping Utensils - Portable Stainless-Steel Camping Spoon, Fork, Knife and Can/Bottle Opener - Backpacking Utensils with Case
- Navaris Titanium Spork Camping Utensil - 3-in-1 Fork, Spoon, Knife Cutlery Combo - Lightweight Metal Silverware for Backpacking, Hiking, Outdoors
Coffee mug (personal)
Because I'm definitely making coffee in the morning, I always bring a coffee mug. I like to bring a mug with a handle because I can easily hook this on the outside of my backpack.
Usually I choose one with a lid as well to keep the dirt and bugs out of it!
- Coffee Mug: COOK'N'ESCAPE Lightweight Titanium Pot with Lid, Titanium Camping Cookware Backpacking with Foldable Handles, Space Saver, Easy Clean
Because you won't have access to running water and soap, a pot scraper will really help you easily clean your dishes.
- Pot Scraper: GSI Outdoors 74125 Compact Scraper
Don't forget a lighter, and find something durable!
- Lighter: Zippo Matte Pocket Lighters
Small cutting board
Whether or not you pack a cutting board will depend on the meals you bring on your trip. If you are bringing foods you will need to cut, having a small cutting boards make it easier than just cutting items on the ground.
Consider a cutting board that is lightweight and two-sided to stay safe with foods.
- Cutting Board: GSI Outdoors Ultralight Cutting Board- Small
Spice containers (with spices)
Brining a spice container can elevate your meals while backpacking! These spice containers are compact, convenient, and easy to clean.
This might go without saying, but make sure to pack it with your favorite spices!
- Spice Container: GSI Outdoors - Spice Missile: Lightweight, Modular Spice Carrier for Camping and Outdoors
Knife or multitool
It's always smart to carry some sort of knife or multitool. You might need it while cooking or to double as a pair of scissors in certain situations.
- Smith & Wesson Extreme Ops SWA24S 7.1in S.S. Folding Knife with 3.1in Serrated Clip Point Blade and Aluminum Handle for Outdoor, Tactical, Survival and EDC
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