Ultimate Checklist for Your Next Backpacking Trip

Ultimate Checklist for Your Next Backpacking Trip

Do you love backpacking? Perhaps you’re just starting out or maybe you’re a veteran. There’s nothing quite like taking a backpacking trip through nature. There are so many beautiful places to explore and enjoy. However, backpacking can become downright dangerous if you’re not prepared and you don’t have the right gear. Here are a few ideas for when you go to pack for your next big adventure!

1. Backpack and Storage

  • Backpack
  • Compression sacks or stuff sacks
  • Dry Bags or ziplock bags

One of the most important things to have when backpacking is a good hiking backpack. Preferably, one with plenty of space for all of your gear. It can be really helpful to have a backpack with a shoulder harness that is adjustable too. That way, if things get uncomfortable, you can adjust your backpack to fit you better.

As far as storage goes, if you’d like to take bulkier items, be sure to buy stuff sacks. Stuff or compression sacks can help you make items like a sleeping bag, blanket, jacket, or clothing, a lot less bulky. You simply shove the item in the sack and push as much of the air out as you can. You could also buy some waterproof bags to store things in case you and your backpack get wet. Always put things that you have to keep dry in a dry bag of some kind.

Dry bags are super, super important. You can buy fancy dry bags, or this could be simply a plastic ziplock bag. If things get wet, you’ll be cold, and it could become a life-threatening situation. There are certain things you need to keep dry at all costs. A few examples of this are your sleeping bag, shelter (tent or tarp), an insulating layer of clothing, etc. Many places get very cold at night, so making sure your bedding and shelter are dry could save your life, or at the very least, make you more comfortable.

2. Shelter

Shelter is a basic necessity, no matter where you’re going. The first thing to remember is you need something to sleep under. This could be a tent or a tarp. Make sure you have all the supplies to put together a tent or rope and a way to steady your tarp, if needed. You’ll also need something to sleep on top of. The ground will get very, very cold at night, and it can suck the heat right out of you (even if you’re in a sleeping bag.) Make sure you have a camping mat or inflatable sleeping pad to sleep on at night. This will insulate you and keep you more comfortable.

3. Sleep Items

  • Sleeping Bag
  • Small travel or camping pillow
  • Camping pad or mat
  • Or cot
  • Or hammock

At the bare minimum, you’ll need a sleeping bag. Sleeping bags vary by how cold the temperature can get outside and how warm the sleeping bag keeps you. So make sure you do your research on that. 

You’ll also want to get a small travel/camping pillow. Just make sure you get one that inflates or is tiny so it doesn’t take up too much room in your backpack. 

As mentioned above, you’ll also want to get a camping pad or mat. This ensures that your back and legs don’t hurt and you’ll stay warm! If you don’t like sleeping on the ground you could always get a cot, but those can take up a lot of space. A hammock might be a better option since they pack down smaller. You’ll still need some insulation in a hammock, but it will get you off the ground.

4. Food

  • Packable cooking kit and mess kit
  • Camping stove
  • Freeze-dried items
  • “Just add water” items such as pancake mix or soup
  • Hard candy and trail mix
  • Water purification system
  • Container for water
  • Soap and a small towel

You want to make sure you have plenty of food while backpacking since you might not be close to any stores or other people. You will need to get a packable cooking kit and mess kit. This way you’ll be able to eat and not make a huge mess. Also consider taking a camping stove, if you have room. 

As for food, freeze-dried items can be great since they are lightweight. You can also get “just add water” items such as pancake mix or Bear Creek soups. Hard candy and trail mix can also make great snacks. The hard candy has the added bonus of helping you keep your mouth from drying out. 

Water is also really important. So, make sure you have a water purification system and consider getting a single-walled steel container for water. You’ll be able to use it for boiling if needed. Don’t forget some soap and maybe a small towel to wipe up your cooking supplies.

5. Tools/Accessories

Generally, as your skillset increases, the number of tools you’ll need to bring along will decrease. This is because you’ll be able to make a lot of tools yourself. So, this is a very customizable area of the list. For example, some people might want a camp chair to sit on, but others would prefer to just sit on a stump or rock. It’s all preference-based. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Navigation equipment
  • First aid kit
  • Personal toiletries
  • A fire starter
  • Water purification system or tablets
  • Poncho
  • Knife
  • Solar-powered electronics charger
  • Sunscreen
  • Sun Hat
  • Bandanna
  • Paracord/rope
  • Extra tarp
  • Flashlight or headlamp
  • Duck tape

Again, tools and equipment are a really customizable section of your list. Everyone might want or need different things. It’s more about your comfort level and where you’re backpacking.

6. Clothing

woman hiking with a backpack in summer

Clothing is very dependent on the season and the climate of your backpacking trip. Will you need rain gear? Insulation? A heavy coat? It is important to know! Many people also pack way too much clothing. So, keep that in mind. Here are some general ideas to get you started, though!

  • A rope belt
  • Lightweight jacket
  • Long underwear
  • Regular underwear
  • Socks
  • Several changes of clothes
  • Pajamas
  • A Hat
  • Sunglasses

No matter where you’re backpacking, make sure to take a map, make a plan, and let people know where you are going/when you’ll be back. This, along with the right gear could save your life!