Ultimate Backpacking Checklist:
Must-bring items for hiking, camping, and outdoors trips.
Looking for a complete backpacking checklist? Look no further, we have just what you need for your next hiking, camping, and outdoor adventure.
It is essential to stay prepared while backpacking, but it can be incredibly easy to forget the most crucial items - or items you merely would like to have - without creating a checklist of all of the things you need.
For your benefit, we have compiled the ultimate checklist of what to bring backpacking, so you never have to worry about forgetting your favorite backpacking gear ever again.
By staying prepared and ensuring you have all of the essential items on this checklist - along with the non-essential items you prefer - you can stay safe and have a great time backpacking the next time you hit the trail.
How to Use Our Backpacking Checklist
We have broken down our backpacking checklist into several different sections, so you can easily make your way through the list without forgetting any crucial items.
The backpacking checklist is broken down into the following sections:
Best Overnight equipment
Best Clothing items
Best First aid equipment
Best Hygiene items
Best Navigation equipment
Other Extra items to consider
For each section, we provide the essential items - listed at the top - followed by other non-essential items that you may like to have.
It is essential to make sure you have all of the essentials before going backpacking to stay safe and prepared so you can focus solely on having a good time and taking in all that nature has to offer.
Best Overnight Equipment
First and foremost, it is crucial to have a reliable backpack that is capable of storing all of your essentials. Your backpack is your best friend and needless to say, you must have one while backpacking. Be sure to check out our extensive collection of backpacks and hiking daypacks.
Check out the TETON Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack
Shelter is perhaps the most important thing to have when out backpacking. A good backpacking tent can keep you safe from bad weather, warm from the cold and simply make the entire experience much easier. In addition, you get to save money by not having to pay for lodging along the route.
Check out the ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 1-Person Tent
A chair can be an easy item to forget while backpacking, but it is an essential item to add to any overnight checklist(ask anyone who has forgotten to bring one). After backpacking for hours during the day, you are going to want a comfortable place to sit and relax at the end of the day.
Check out this Ultralight Camping Chair
Your sleep is precious during an overnight backpacking trip, and you are going to want a comfortable sleeping bag to cover yourself up on while in your camping tent. If you plan to go backpacking in a cold weather climate, be sure to grab a thermal sleeping bag to ensure you stay warm.
Check out this Coleman 0°F Mummy Sleeping Bag
One of the most frustrating things to forget during a backpacking trip is a pillow - which can be a really easy item to forget. Unless you do not mind resting your head on a rock, be sure to pack your pillow and stay comfortable on your next adventure.
Although it is not an essential item, your sleep is essential to a backpacking trip. For many, a sleeping bag and a pillow are not enough to stay comfortable, and a sleeping pad is a great way to add a little extra comfort.
An emergency blanket is always good to have stored in your backpack in the event bad weather strikes out of nowhere. If you find yourself far away from available shelter, you can throw the emergency blanket over yourself and stay dry and safe until the bad weather passes.
A camping hammock is not an item many think to bring on their backpacking trip, but there is no better way to relax than to lay back in a camping hammock and rest your eyes. A good camping hammock is easy to set up and provides excellent support while laying in it.
We also wrote a review about the best camping hammocks, which you should read.
Food and Water Equipment:
Essentials to bring for any outdoor hiking and camping trip.
It is essential to plan for more than enough food while out on the backpacking trail. Along with the usual backpacking snacks - such as trail mix, fruit and protein bars - plan for your larger meals as well.
There are several different ways to ensure you have plenty of water while out backpacking. Perhaps the best way to do so, however, is to carry a water reservoir, which stores water and allows you to always have some. Be sure to plan and stay hydrated while out on the trail.
Another easy item to forget to take backpacking is cookware and utensils. If you plan to do some cooking and deal with hot food, then you are going to need backpacking cookware. Then, of course, packing some forks, spoons and knives is important as well.
In addition to a water reservoir, it is important to carry a water bottle for additional water supply. It is best to carry a larger water bottle and have a safe place to store it in your backpack. Trust me, the last thing you want to lose while backpacking is your water supply.
In addition to cookware and utensils, be sure to pack some plates and bowls to eat on. Simple paper plates and bowls should do fine, and it takes up very little space in your backpack.
There is nothing like a warm, fresh cooked meal - especially while you are out on a backpacking adventure. You can ensure all of your big meals are warm and delicious by bringing a backpacking stove along with you. While cold sandwiches may suffice, a warm meal is a great way to make your backpacking experience even better.
If you bring a backpacking stove along with you, then you are going to need gas or fuel to heat the stove. Of course, it is important to properly store the stove fuel safely in your backpack, but you are almost certain to not regret bringing it along with you.
Many trails have water reservoirs along the way. While they are almost always safe to drink and taste fine, bringing a water purifier along with you is a great way to ensure you always have good, clean water while backpacking.
A long day out backpacking can be incredibly exhausting. By bringing energy food and drinks along with you, you can stay prepared with a quick burst of energy whenever one is needed. An energy shot, energy bar or energy drink work well for this.
Many backpackers cannot function without their coffee in the morning - including me. Let’s face it, a cup of coffee is not the same in a cup or bottle than it is in a coffee mug. Therefore, all coffee lovers should consider bringing their favorite coffee mug along with them.
Clothing Items to Bring
The quality of your hiking boots or shoes affects your overall backpacking experience. A high-quality pair of hiking boots can keep your feet feeling comfortable throughout the trip, resist weather damage and supply good traction on steep climbs.
You should also read our most recent article on the best hiking boots to buy.
If you plan to backpack through a trail that experiences a lot of rain or is just a wet area in general, then you are going to want to take extra caution to stay dry and wear waterproof socks. While waterproof hiking boots are important, they do not do much good if your socks are not waterproof as well.
The pants you wear while backpacking is an important decision to make. To ensure you have a good experience out on your adventure, your backpacking pants should be comfortable, resistant to damage and lightweight enough to keep you from becoming fatigued.
A breathable, lightweight shirt that still provides enough protection from damage can be a useful clothing item when backpacking in warm weather. In cold weather, a thicker shirt that is resistant to cold weather may be more preferable.
Whether you are backpacking in cold or warm weather, a backpacking jacket is essential to any adventure. A good backpacking jacket can keep you protected from bad weather, warm throughout the hike and safe from scrapes and bruises.
After backpacking in your hiking boots or shoes each day you are on the trail, you are likely to want a comfortable pair of sandals to walk around in when it is time to relax and rest up. If you would prefer to hike in sandals, there are also hiking sandals available as well.
See our article on the best hiking shoes and sandals to buy.
Long Sleeve Shirt
A long sleeve shirt can be a good balance between just a backpacking shirt and a complete jacket. Not only is a long sleeve shirt lightweight enough to keep you feeling good while backpacking, but it is protective enough to keep you safe from bruises and bad weather as well.
If you plan to go backpacking in an area where the climate is typically warm, then a lightweight jacket can be a good thing to wear and still stay comfortable on the trail.
It is essential to prepare for the weather when going backpacking. In dry climates, it may be worth the risk to leave the rain jacket at home. If rain is a strong possibility, you are going to want to bring the rain jacket along with you.
Gloves work well in a couple of ways. First and foremost, a thick pair of backpacking gloves can keep your hands - which are vital during a hike - warm. They can also protect your hands from unnecessary damage as well.
The sunlight can not only be incredibly annoying while out backpacking, but it can also increase the chance of getting a headache. To avoid this, bring a pair of sunglasses along with you for the sunny days.
Headgear is very important to consider on any backpacking adventure. A beanie is likely the best way to keep your head warm and still feel comfortable while out backpacking, particularly if the weather is cold.
If the weather is going to be fairly warm, then a hat is a good way to keep the sun out of your eyes and avoid sunburn on your face. In some cases, a hat can just be comfortable to wear and feel good.
Best First Aid Equipment to Buy
First Aid Kit
There are many obstacles you are likely to face while backpacking that can lead to cuts, bruises and scrapes. When these accidents occur, it is important to have the material needed to address the medical issue. A simple first aid kit should provide all you need to stay safe while on the trail.
A knife - or at the very least a pocket knife - is also an essential item to bring with you backpacking. You never know exactly when you are going to need a knife, but the fact is you most likely will come across an obstacle that requires the tool.
A flashlight is another very important tool to have while backpacking. When you are out in nature, there are not any street lights or city lights to guide you. If you are lucky, you will have the moonlight alone, which is why a quality flashlight is important.
It is important to know the climate you going backpacking in. If it is really warm with lots of sunlight, then sunscreen is important to ensure your skin is protected while out on the trail.
Insects are perhaps the biggest annoyance while backpacking. If the trail you are backpacking on has a lot of annoying insects, then be sure to bring some insect repellant along with you to keep yourself comfortable the entire time.
Best Hygiene Items:
Tooth brushes, Soap, Shampoo and other cleaning items.
Bring a travel bag to keep your toiletry items organized.
One of the most annoying things you can do when packing for your backpacking trip is to forget to bring your toothpaste and toothbrush. Make sure to check this box before you head towards any hiking trail.
Toilet paper is another item you are not going to want to forget to bring with you. One or two rolls should be enough, without taking up too much space in your backpack.
There are likely to be opportunities to shower or bathe in along your backpacking route, and it is important for you - and those you are with - to do so. It is important to bring enough soap and shampoo for the entire trip.
Towels can be easy to forget, and while they are not necessarily an essential item, they make the trip much easier. You are likely to need a towel on many occasions during your backpacking trip - including after you bathe and in the event it starts to rain.
Your hands are required to touch a lot while backpacking, and they can be susceptible to picking up germs. Since washing your hands can be a waste of water, bring some hand sanitizer instead to keep your hands clean.
Best Navigation Equipment
Compass and Map
One of the biggest fears of many backpackers is the fear of getting lost while on the trail. To avoid this, it is important to bring a compass and a map with you, which should help provide direction when you lose your place. In many cases, you can find an official trail map online.
A guidebook is a great way to ensure you are fully prepared for anything and everything you might experience along your route. Be sure to talk to the ones in charge of the trail, visit the center or search online for a guidebook of the trail to learn more about what all can be expected before starting your journey.
A satellite messenger is important to ensure someone finds you in the event you become lost or get injured and are unable to seek help on your feet. Although they can be somewhat expensive for many, having a satellite messenger helps you stay safe and feel secure while out backpacking.
To even further ensure you do not get lost while out backpacking, you can purchase a hiking GPS, which helps guide you along the route and ensure you stay on schedule. While it is not essential, a GPS makes your backpacking journey much easier.
It is easy to lose track of the time while backpacking, and in a lot of instances, your phone may die while on the trail, especially if you hiking late into the evening. To ensure you always keep track of the time and know when to pitch the tent, bring a reliable watch along with you.
Let’s face it, holding a flashlight or lantern while hiking can be incredibly annoying. A headlamp makes it easy to always have plenty of light early in the morning and late in the evening without having to hold your source of light the entire time.
We also wrote a great review about the best camping and outdoor lights to wear.
Backpacking adventures are intended to be fun, memorable experiences - which is why bringing a camera is important. By bringing a camera along with you, you can capture those precious moments when you come across an incredible view, see intriguing wildlife or simply want to take a selfie with a friend.
If you own an expensive camera and want to take it with you backpacking, then you are going to want to keep it safe and protected from the rough terrain often experienced on a hiking trail. Purchasing a protective camera bag is a good way to ensure your camera stays safe throughout the entire backpacking trip.
GoPros - which are video cameras that can be attached to your forehead - has quickly become a popular tool for backpackers. Essentially, a GoPro is a camera that is worn similar to a headlamp, and it captures your very own point of view of the entire backpacking experience.
A tripod is a unique tool that allows you to set your camera up during moments you are not able to hold it, such as when taking group pictures or when you want to capture a video without the camera shaking.
It can be annoying to see something really unique and interesting while backpacking, but it is simply too far away to make out exactly what it is or its specific features. When you come across unique wildlife or an incredible view, having binoculars along with you is a good way to see the moment up close.
A whistle is a useful tool to bring backpacking, and it can be used for a variety of purposes. First and foremost, you can use a whistle to call for help in the event you become lost or injured. In addition, if all of your trail members have a whistle, you can even use it as a method of long-range communication as well.
Extra Items to Bring Hiking and Camping
There are many backpacking trails that require you to have certain permits in order to hike. Be sure to check and verify you are properly permitted before you hit the trail. In addition, it is important to also bring some form of identification along with you as well.
A lighter is another necessity that may not technically fit into a certain category. However, a lighter is essential for starting fires, which are a huge part of your backpacking experience. If you prefer, matches work just as well - if not better - than a lighter when it comes to starting a fire.
Many who try a trekking pole for the first time are amazed by how much it helps them keep from becoming sore. A good trekking pole can allow you to comfortably tackle more miles each day or simply cover the same amount of ground more effortlessly.
If the weather gets bad, then there is going to be a lot of downtime to spend in your tent. Bringing a book is a great way to enjoy a peaceful evening undercover in the event a storm occurs. If the weather is good, reading a book out in nature is a very peaceful experience as well.
At night - or between backpacking trips - you are going to want to have some fun, especially if you go with a group of friends or family members. Bringing a board or trivia game is a way to keep things lively and have some fun at night when you are not backpacking.
Bringing a journal is a great way to ensure you are able to remember the entire experience. When you do not write down your discoveries and experiences, it is easy to forget about them or not remember them correctly in the weeks after the journey. Be sure to write down your experiences in your own personal journal if you want to remember them exactly as they occurred.
Check Out Our Backpacking Gear
If you want to learn about even more backpacking gear to consider on your hikes, be sure to check out our website and search through our backpacking gear options.
Here at Angel Outdoors, we provide you with everything you need to stay safe and have a good time while you are out backpacking.
Here are several of the many backpacking gear essentials we can help you find:
The quality of the equipment you bring on your backpacking adventure often dictates your overall experience. By going through our ultimate backpacking checklist and ensuring you have all of the essentials - in addition to your favorite non-essentials - you can stay prepared at all times while hiking.
Whether you are going on a three-day trip or plan to hike for an entire week or longer, you should consider your needs and ensure you are well equipped before starting your journey.
Stay Prepared While Backpacking
While it is important to spend time with others and enjoy the beauty that nature has to offer, staying safe, ensuring you have plenty of food and water and giving yourself good shelter is important as well.
Once you make it through the essentials of our checklist, you can feel certain that you are ready for a great backpacking adventure without having to fear being unprepared and in danger at any point during the trip.
If you want to learn more about backpacking and what to bring on your trip, feel free to contact us and we would be glad to guide you through your preparation process.