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Backpacking Checklist: Everything You Need for Your Outdoor Adventure

Backpacking on a trail with nothing more than life’s necessities on your back is the quintessential outdoor adventure. To ensure a successful and enjoyable trip, it’s crucial to pack wisely. Your gear choices should be influenced by the hike’s distance, remoteness, and expected weather conditions. The more remote and challenging the hike, the more prepared you need to be.

What to Bring on a Backpacking Trip

Here’s a comprehensive backpacking checklist to ensure you don’t forget any essentials:

  1. Footwear
  • Hiking boots or shoes: Choose based on terrain difficulty and personal comfort.
  1. Backpacking Gear
  • Backpack: A 30-50 liter pack is ideal for overnight trips.
  • Tent: Include stakes and guylines.
  • Sleeping bag: Ensure it’s appropriate for the expected temperatures.
  • Sleeping pad: For insulation and comfort.
  • Headlamp or flashlight: Bring extra batteries.
  • Optional: Trekking poles, packable lantern, tent footprint, pillow, bear spray.
  1. Backcountry Kitchen
  • Backpacking stove and fuel
  • Cookset: Includes a pot grabber.
  • Dishes, bowls, eating utensils, and a mug/cup
  • Biodegradable soap and a small quick-dry towel
  • Collapsible water container
  • Bear canister or food sack, plus 50’ nylon cord for hanging food
  1. Food and Water
  • Meals: Plan for each day plus an extra day’s supply.
  • Snacks: Energy bars, jerky, hard cheeses, and nuts.
  • Water bottles and/or reservoir
  • Water filter/purifier or chemical treatment
  1. Clothing and Footwear
  • Base layers: Moisture-wicking underwear and T-shirt.
  • Quick-drying pants or shorts
  • Long-sleeve shirt for sun and bugs
  • Lightweight fleece or jacket
  • Boots or shoes suited to the terrain
  • Socks: Synthetic or wool.
  • Extra clothes
  • Additional items for cold or rainy weather: Rainwear, long underwear, insulated jacket or vest, fleece pants, gloves or mittens, warm hat.
  • Optional: Sandals, bandana, gaiters.
  1. Navigation
  • Map and compass: Store the map in a waterproof sleeve.
  • Optional: Route description, watch, GPS, satellite messenger/personal locator beacon.
  1. Emergency and First Aid
  • First-aid kit
  • Whistle
  • Lighter or matches (in a waterproof container)
  • Fire starter
  • Emergency shelter
  • Itineraries: One left with a friend and one under your car seat.
  1. Health and Hygiene
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Sanitation trowel
  • Toilet paper or wipes and a sealable bag (to pack it out)
  • Menstrual products
  • Prescription medications and glasses
  • Sun protection: Sunglasses, sunscreen, SPF-rated lip balm, sun hat.
  • Optional: Insect repellent, urinary products, additional blister treatment supplies.
  1. Tools and Repair Items
  • Knife or multi-tool
  • Repair kit: Include supplies for your mattress and stove.
  • Duct tape strips
  1. Backpacking Extras (Optional)
  • Daypack for side trips
  • Camera or action cam with extra memory cards
  • Field guides
  • Star chart/night-sky identifier
  • Outdoor journal with pen or pencil
  • Book or reading material
  • Cards or games
  • Compact binoculars
  • Two-way radios
  1. Personal Items
  • Permits (if needed)
  • Credit card and/or cash
  • ID
  • Car keys
  • Cellphone

Happy hiking and stay safe on the trails!