What to Bring Backpacking: The Ultimate Backpacking Packing List

This ultimate backpacking packing list is for those who are looking to get started and want to ensure they’re comfortable from start to finish. For trips that last from 1-3 nights in the backcountry, this suggested backpacking gear will serve you well and not cause any frustrations along the way.

By the time you reach the trailhead on your way back home, you’ll be eager to plan your next trip!

FULL DISCLOSURE: Some of the items listed below have links to Amazon. By Land participates in the Amazon Associates program where we’ll earn a commission on qualifying purchases from these links at no extra cost to you.

I’ve spent a lot of time and energy sorting through all the gear out there so you can cut right to the chase. Some of this gear can be purchased at your local outdoor store, however others cannot. I’ve personally used nearly all of this gear and if I haven’t, I’ve researched and spoken to those who have who recommend these items as well.

As always, if you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

**This packing list is tailored to a summer trip during average summer temperatures in fair weather.


Gear 

Backpack

Osprey Atmos AG 50 (Mens) or the Osprey Aura AG 50 (Womens): This backpack has fans all over and for good reason. The suspension system is second to none and Osprey has one of the best warranties you’ll find.

Tent

This tent is perfect for both you and a friend without cramping anyones style. Sierra Designs is known for the livability of their tents and ease of use.

Sleeping Bag

Unlike a mummy bag that can be restricting to sleep in, this sleeping bag promotes comfort by allowing you to move freely and tuck yourself in like you might at home in your own bed.

Sleeping Pad

Klymit Insulated Static V Sleeping Pad: I’ve owned a couple of pads and had the opportunity to hike over 2000 miles of the PCT with this one. It’s light, comfortable, and durable.

Cook System

Jetboil Flash 1L: The Jetboil Flash comes with an integrated ignition and it includes everything you need to warm up that dinner. It boils water extremely fast, is fuel efficient, and is simple to use.

*BE SURE TO BRING FUEL

Pillow

Sleep is HUGE when backpacking. Even short trips can be miserable if you’re not sleeping well. For me and many others, a lightweight inflatable pillow is a must have.

Pack Liner

Instead of a pack cover, try simply lining the inside of your pack with a pack liner. It’s a superior way to ensure your gear remains dry when the weather moves in and you’re on the trail.


Clothing

Insulation Layer

Pategonia Micro Puff: A lightweight insulation layer that is provides a synthetic insulation option. It will pack down as small as a down insulation piece, but will retain warmth when wet.

Pants or Shorts

If you’re not comfortable wearing a pair of exercise shorts on the trail, just pick up a pair of these PrAna pants. They’re durable, light, and cost effective.

Gloves

Fingerless Wool Gloves: I spent money on gloves of all types and by far the most effective, both in cost and comfort, in all seasons and weather conditions (minus extreme temps) have been a simple set of fingerless wool gloves.


Food and Water

Water Filter

Sawyer Squeeze: This filter is lightweight and easy to use. Attach it to a threaded water bottle to drink directly from it. It’ll last for as long as you take care of it and simplifies filtering water in the backcountry.

Spoon

Sea to Summit Long Handled Spoon: Trust me, having a longer handled spoon for those bits of food at the bottom of your meal will be worth it.

Food Bag

Toss all of your food into this thing, roll it up, and call it a day. It makes sorting through everything much easier and saves you time.


Accessories

Trekking Poles

There will come a time when you realize why trekking poles are so awesome. Until then, you’ll feel goofy and dorky, but there’s a reason why nearly all long distance hikers use them. They conserve energy and protect your knees.

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Organizational Bag

Use an organizational bag for all those extra items you don’t need throughout the day or for snacks.

Power Bank

Cord Third Power Bank: You don’t need solar power to keep your things charged. Get your self one of these and charge your phone and whatever else on the go.

Charging Cable

Just…make sure you have one of these so you can use that power bank.

Small Multitool

This little guy is worth every ounce.

Hygiene

Colgate Whisps: Dealing with toothpaste and a brush in the backcountry sucks. These work just as well, saves you space, and isn’t messy.

First Aid

You don’t need to perform surgery out there, so don’t go crazy. Just make sure you have what you need to dress a wound and get home safely.

Seat Pad

It sounds like it’s not necessary, but it’s a blessing when you’re taking a break on rocks or wet ground. One of my personal favorites I never leave home without.

Sunglasses

It’s important to protect your eyes from the sun. Be it gas station glasses or fancy ones, just have them on you. Make sure they protect the side of your eyes as well for bright days or when you’re walking over snow.

Paracord

Don’t go crazy, but having a little extra cordage on you can really pay off sometimes. Use it to hang up wet clothes, a food bag, or replace tie-down points.

Meds

If you have any medications, make sure you don’t forget them. Bringing a little extra anti inflammatory to take throughout the day will really help out.

Ibuprofen is great to help take the inflammation down while on trail and before you hit the sack. talk to your doctor before taking any medications

Fire Starter

It’s always important to ensure you have a method to start a fire if needed.

Compass (secondary navigation)

Unless you’re extremely familiar with where you’re going, make sure you bring a paper map and a compass with you so you can get your bearing if all else fails. Contact your local Forest Service Office for information on where you can attain maps for the area you’re headed into.

Blister Prevention

At the very first sign of a hotspot, take your shoe off and slap some of this tape over it. Don’t wait until the next break or put it off until the end of the day. Blisters suck and can be miserable, so just take care of them right away.

Duct Tape

I bet if you look hard enough, you probably have a roll hanging out in the garage. Make a few wraps of it around your trekking poles so it’s on hand and ready to go when you need it. It can repair all kinds of things.

Tenacious Tape

This stuff is great for making actual repairs to tents, bags, jackets, and whatever else. Take a large square of this with you on each outing and you’ll be glad you have it in the event you rip something.