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Backpacking Checklist

Finding the balance between what you think you need and what you actually need is a process that only comes with experience. This backpacking checklist will provide an understanding of what you will need to survive in the wild. The top two mistakes made by inexperienced backpackers is taking 1) too much clothing and/or the wrong type of clothing (i.e. avoid cotton) 2) too much food. You can add as much you would like to this list, just keep in mind every ounce you add is literally going on your back.


  • Backpack (Most backpackers are happiest with a 65 to 75 liter pack)
  • Tent (remember, two person backpacking tents are tiny….consider a 3 person tent for 2 people and save weight by going super light or ultra-light)
  • Sleeping bag (Down is nice because it compresses into a smaller space in pack…and it’s soooo comfy!)
  • Sleeping pad (if temperatures are below 45 degrees, we recommend an insulated pad)
  • Pillow (air pillows are nice to have, consider adding only half the amount of air it could hold and fold in half for extra pillow height)
  • Single burner stove
  • Fuel (butane/propane mix)
  • Matches or a lighter (and always have a back-up so if you go with a lighter, take an extra in a sandwich bag)
  • Camp Cookware (if your just boiling water, Jetboil is our most popular option and it is highly efficient)
  • Spoon (I mention this because of forgotten one before and it sucks)
  • Food (freeze dried is the lightest)
  • Trail snacks (also great for lunch because you can eat on the go)
  • Candy (just a little bit of sugar might help you make that final push over the pass to camp for the night)
  • Water Bottle
  • Water Filter
  • 96 oz mylar water container (I always take this item. It weighs almost nothing and allows me to filter enough water each night for dinner, breakfast, and night time use)
  • First Aid Kit (with something to handle foot blisters, a little duct tape works well  for hot spots on feet)
  • Sun Screen
  • Bug spray
  • Rain Gear (we highly recommend a rain jacket and rain pants)
  • Bear Canister (some areas require this, but required or not, you generally need it in bear country)
  • Nylon Cord
  • Multi-tool
  • Clothing
    • Short sleeved shirt (typically one or two)
    • Long sleeved shirt (typically one of two)
    • Long sleeved warmer material possibly fleece
    • Shell jacket (I sometime use my rain coat for this)
    • One pair of shorts
    • Wool socks (this is a must have, you will want at least two pair…one to wear while the other dries out)
    • Ten Mountain Essentials
  • Navigational Map (this means one you will pay for and includes important details like elevation, possible water sources, and possible camping locations)
  • Compass (see “Ten Essentials”)
  • GPS & Locator Devices (The DeLorme Inreach Explorer has a GPS and communication features)
  • Ten Mountain Essentials

Make every trip an awesome adventure by using this list, and customizing your own backpacking checklist!