Exploring Monument Valley

Ultimate Backpacking Checklist for Hiking and Camping

Being a backpacker and backpacking through new areas can lead you to some of the best views you’ll ever see. However, before slinging a pack over your shoulders and heading off on a backpacking adventure, it’s good to make a backpacking checklist. Making a list ensures that you’re conveniently packing all that you need. Read over the backpacking gear checklist below to make sure that you’re set with all the supplies you need!

Downloadable Backpacking Checklist

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Backpacking Checklist for Essentials:

If you’re searching for the bare minimum to bring with you on your trip, check the backpacking checklist for essentials listed below. However, be sure to keep reading for extra gear list recommendations and tips to make your trip more comfortable.

  • Hiking backpack with rain cover
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Emergency & First Aid Kit (read on to see what to include inside)
  • Food: For snacks, pack things like granola bars, nuts, or jerky so you can eat on the go. For mealtimes, plan to eat something more substantial. With all the exercise you’re getting, you should be eating about 2,500-3,500 calories a day. Also, don’t forget to pack an extra day’s worth of food! Do some research on lightweight meals to pack that will fill you up but won’t weigh you down.
  • Water: While hiking, you should be drinking about a half-liter of water per hour of activity to keep your body hydrated. Be sure to keep a thin water bottle or reservoir on you so you can hydrate as you go.
  • Water filter/purifier or chemical treatment
  • Headlamp or flashlight with extra batteries
  • Lighter and/or matches
  • Map and compass: It’s good to have these on you in case your app or GPS device fails while you’re out on the trails. Also, be sure to have your map in a waterproof sleeve.
  • Permits: To walk or camp, some places might require you to have a permit. Be sure to do your research and reserve in advance if necessary.
  • Pocket knife
  • Sun protection: Even while hiking in the woods, the sun can be a beast. Bring a hat, sunscreen, and/or sunglasses to keep you protected from the heat and potential sunburns.
  • Personal Items: Be sure to carry all credit cards, cash, car keys, ID, cellphone, etc. with you. It’s also a good idea to put them in a waterproof case or bag while trekking.

Tip: It’s smart to make a separate backpacking checklist for food items specifically to ensure you have all the nutrients necessary for your trip.

Camping Gear Checklist:

  • Backpacking tent with stakes and guy lines for camping or a bivy sack for minimalist shelter.
  • Sleeping pad: The sleeping pad goes beneath your sleeping bag to add comfort while camping.
  • Packable lantern
  • Pillow or stuff sack
  • Bear Spray

Cooking Gear Checklist:

  • Backpacking stove
  • Fuel for stove
  • Cookpot and lid
  • Lighter to light stove
  • Dishes/bowls
  • Eating utensils
  • Biodegradable soap
  • Small quick-dry towel
  • Bear canister or food sack
  • Large Ziploc to use as a trash bag and pack out

Clothing & Footwear Checklist:

Check the forecast before your backpacking trip, so you dress based on the conditions. Just in case, you should always bring an extra set of clothes! All clothing should be lightweight, moisture-wicking, and quick-drying. Try to avoid cotton as it absorbs moisture and takes a long time to dry out, leading to blisters and chafing. Also, be sure to treat clothing with Permethrin before you go to repel bugs while you hike. For footwear, determine what hiking shoe is best to wear based on the terrain. For hikers walking on smooth trails, hiking shoes or trail runners are perfect. However, for treks on rocky terrain or rugged trails, hiking boots provide more support and grip. Read this backpacking checklist for clothing and footwear for suggestions on what to bring:

Cold Weather Backpacking Trips:

  • Insulated jacket
  • Fleece jacket
  • Fleece pants
  • Warm gloves
  • Fleece hat
  • 1-2 Pairs of warm wool socks
  • Baselayer bottom
  • Baselayer top

Rainy Weather Backpacking Trips:

  • Rain pants
  • Rain mittens
  • Down jacket
  • 1-2 Pairs of warm wool socks
  • Baselayer bottom
  • Rain jacket
  • Baselayer top
  • Gaiters (optional for if it gets muddy or snowy)

All Backpacking Trips:

  • Hiking pants
  • Running shorts
  • Long-sleeve shirt to protect from the sun and bugs
  • Short-sleeve shirt
  • 1-2 Pairs of underwear
  • 2-4 Pairs of hiking socks
  • Whichever shoes you deem fit for the trip (hiking shoes, trail runners, or hiking boots)
  • Sandals (optional for warm weather or when you’re camping)

Navigation Checklist:

  • For remote locations, it’s good to bring a satellite messenger or personal locator beacon
  • Watch
  • Hiking poles; a hiking pole or trekking pole helps with stability and guidance throughout the hike.
  • 2 itineraries: one for you and one to leave with a friend just in case

Emergency Kit & First Aid Kit Checklist:

Emergency

  • Whistle
  • Duct tape or tenacious tape for repairs
  • Stormproof matches and small fire starters
  • Backup water treatment pills
  • Repair kit in case of small rips or tears in equipment

First Aid Kit

  • Band-aids of various sizes
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Gauze pads
  • Medical tape
  • Latex gloves
  • Tweezers
  • Safety pins
  • Moleskin
  • Antihistamines
  • Antidiarrheal

Health & Hygiene Checklist:

Customize these to whatever makes you feel comfortable!

  • Lip balm with SPF
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toilet paper and sealable bag to pack it out
  • Digging trowel
  • Menstrual products
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Prescriptions
  • Contact lenses or glasses
  • Bug repellent
  • Small comb or brush
  • Hair ties

Entertainment Items Checklist (Optional):

  • Daypack for hikes/trips away from the main campsite
  • Camera gear
  • Star chart or night-sky identifier
  • Journal with a pencil or pen
  • Book
  • Cards or other small games
  • Compact binoculars

General Packing Tips to Think About:

  • Pack ultralight backpacking gear! On a hiking trip, especially an overnight trip that requires more supplies, it’s good to be mindful of your pack weight. Buying items such as tents, backpacks, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, clothing, and other backpacking essentials, make sure you buy lightweight options. Ultralight backpacking is easier on the body and makes for more room in your pack.
  • Double-check your packing list before you go to be sure you have all that you need!

About the author
Katee’s passion for writing and fascination for language has forever guided her path in life. Follow Katee on Instagram or read more articles from Katee on Thought Catalog.

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