Backpacking Checklist

Keep your pack light


  • Backpack
  • Pack rain cover
    alt: pack liner (garbage bag will do)
  • Shoes - one of:
    • Trail runners - lighter weight, more comfortable
    • Hiking boots - waterproof, high tops for ankle support, durable
  • Water
  • Water filter
  • Trekking poles
  • First aid kit
  • GPS/map/compass
  • Sunglasses
    polarized, side coverage, lower coverage (e.g. snow/water reflection)


  • Tent with fly + groundsheet
    or a hammocking system, if trip allows
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Camp pillow
  • Headlamp + batteries


  • Micro backpacking stove
  • Lighter
  • Fuel
  • Pot
  • Dishes
    spoon/spork (long handled), bowl (if needed), cup/mug


No cotton! When cotton gets wet (from sweat or rain) it doesn’t hold warmth or dry.

  • Rain jacket
  • Rain pants
    side zips prevent needing to remove shoes


What I’ll wear during the day. If longer than three days or likely to get wet, double up on shirts/pants/socks/underwear items. Always bring extra socks.

  • Wool Socks
  • Underwear
    hiking specific underwear dries faster, is more comfortable when sweating, and smells less
  • Sun hat/rain hat
  • Hiking shirt (sun hoody)
  • Hiking pants/shorts
    quick drying, comfortable, zip offs?
  • Bandana/Buff
  • Bug/sun shirt


Keeping warm in the evening, allowing other clothes to dry/air out

  • Midweight fleece or wool sweater
  • Light fleece pants/warm tights
  • Down jacket/pants
  • Warm hat
  • Gloves
  • Long underwear
    Only worn while sleeping, always dry in theory


  • Chapstick
  • Toiletries (teeth, eyes, feminine, etc)
  • Hair bands
  • Medication
    allergy, pain (ibuprofen can improve sleep when you’re sore), birth control
  • Toilet
    • Trowel
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Backcountry bidet
    • Toilet paper, pack bags, lighter
      may be required to pack out, may not be safe to burn
  • Multitool/pocket knife
  • Camera
  • Charging
    • battery
    • cables
    • solar (very trip dependent)
  • Camp/water shoes
    Crocs are my favorites, sandals/flip flops work. Go for lightweight and slip on/off. Lets your hiking shoes dry, your feet air out, keeps your hiking shoes dry.
  • Camp games
    cards, dice, pigs

Trip Dependent

  • Sunscreen
  • Biodegradable bathing soap
  • Camp towel
  • Bug repellent
  • Bear can (or bag/hang)
  • Gaiters
  • Ice axe
  • Crampons/Microspikes
  • Book
  • Journal
  • Permit (car/trail/campsite)
  • PLB1


  • High calorie density (~100 Cal/oz)
  • Avoid carrying water weight
  • The best backpacking meals can be cooked by just boiling water and soaking
  • Plan to snack all day. I’ve seen between 200 and 600 Cal/hour
  • Variety can be important
  • Example meal plan
    • Breakfasts
      • Morning warm up drink - Coffee/tea/hot chocolate
    • Lunches
    • Dinners
      • Pre-dinner fast treat (cup-o-soup)
    • In-between
      • Day snacks
      • Treats/candy
      • Drink powder (calories and/or electrolytes)
    • Trash containers
      I usually use a baggie that was used to pack food
    • Cooking containers
      Freezer ziplock (can handle boiling water)
      Overnight no-cook container

Packing tips

Stuff sacks, compression sacks, water resistant

  • Bulky stuff on bottom
  • Heavy stuff in middle, towards back
  • Light misc on top, outer pockets
  • Fill in spaces with compressible items (sleeping bag, down jacket)
  • Avoid putting things you don’t want wet on the bottom (like your pillow)
  • Day gear in accessible pocket (lunch, snacks, sunglasses)
  • Think about the order clothes are packed in
    • Avoid having to dig in an urgent situation (rain/cold)
    • I like to separate my clean and dirty clothes

Don’t forget

  • Are maps loaded on the GPS?
  • Will the PLB send to the right place?
  • Where are the car keys?
  • Is everything charged?
  • After hike clean clothes/treats?

  1. Personal Locator Beacon: e.g. inReach, iPhone with Satellite SOS ↩︎