Summary: cooking gear, footwear, clothing layers, sleeping mat, tent, my backpacking packing list. *I use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases. Thanks for your support!
Backpacking brings me so much joy and opens the door to a great experience outdoors. There are a lot of barriers to backpacking. Gear can be costly and it can be difficult to know what gear you need to start. I hope that by reading my Backpacking Packing List you have a better understanding of what to bring and are inspired to find your own adventure outside!
- BEAR SAFETY & GENERAL SAFETY
- EVERYTHING ELSE!
Backpacking tents are a bit different than typical car camping tents. They are lighter weight, more compact, and unfortunately usually more money.
I’ve had the same basic REI 2 person backpacking tent since 2015!! It weighs just over 5lbs and honestly gets the job done. This tent is one of the more affordable tents around for backpacking and would be a good place to start.
2 MSR Hubba Hubba NX Tent: 2-Person 3-Season (currently 25% off for Labor Day)
I recently polled my network on social media and this was the winner for most popular tent. I’m looking to upgrade my tent for next season and this tent has wonderful reviews. This tent weighs in at 3lbs making it 2 whole pounds less than my current set up! Definitely ready for this to be part of my Backpacking packing list.
I personally recommend a 65L pack. This will give you options for multi-day backpacking trips! It works just as well for one nighters. Just because you have the capacity, doesn’t mean you need to use the full capacity.
I am a petite woman sitting at 5’3, 105 lb and a very short torso. I have had a hard time finding packs that fit well for me. Weirdly the REI tween/teen pack has been my go-to! It has a lot of customizable options for “growing teens” hahaha.
I know a lot of people that are very happy with this pack and I’m wanting to upgrade solely for the back ventilation that this pack offers. The way it’s design allows your back to breathe instead of sweating into the padding.
3 Osprey Packs Atmos AG 65L Backpack – Mens (25% off!)
My boyfriend has the Men’s version of the above pack and loves it.
A lot of packs have a removable top (brain) that can turn into a small day pack. I’ve found this to be really handy for mini day hikes or sunset hikes leaving camp and your large pack behind. This pack is small enough to roll up and bring along and even has a sleeve for a water bladder!
It has taken me a WHILE to learn how to sleep well outside. I really skimped on my sleeping set up when I first started backpacking and my new set up has made a HUGE difference. Here are my backpacking packing list sleep essentials:
My bag is a few years old and is no longer made! But this is as close as I could find and within the same price range. After sunrise naps are the best.
My boyfriend has been using this bag and it packs down just as small as mine and has done excellent at alpine lakes and on cooler nights. Here I am stealing his at sunrise hah!
This pad has made the BIGGEST difference for me. I was using the bare minimum before because I was trying to save money and weight. This is worth every penny. I love that Big Agnes pads come with an inflation bag so that you can blow it up without being short of breath. Can be used for men or women! ALSO just want to note that I’m a side sleeper and this works well for me.
Get a pillow. It takes up such little space and is so much nicer than rolling up a mound of clothes or whatever else you use.
I use the 14L eVent compression sack to ensure my sleeping bag stays dry and also compresses it to the size of a soccer ball so that I can fit it in the bottom part of my bag.
I’ve been using the same CamelBak system for 4 years. I sometimes will store it in the freezer when I’m not using it to kill bacteria. I find 3 liters is perfect because I don’t always have to fill it up, but having the option to store 3 Liters for backpacking without a water source is really nice.
This water filter is so portable, light weight and perfect for my needs. It is also cheaper than other larger systems.
If you like to bring along a water bottle, this could be a great 2-in-1 for you. This bottle can also filter water from hotels and hostels during international travel!! I highly recommend it if you travel frequently.
I’ve been using my Jetboil for a couple years now and I will never use anything else. It has never let me down. The wind guard allows me to boil water very quickly even in unideal conditions. It is also small and lightweight. Don’t forget to pick up and pack a small fuel canister (I did that once and it was so miserable)
BEAR SAFETY & GENERAL SAFETY
I plan to do an entire blog post on bear safety, but for now common practice is to keep all scented items (foods, toiletries) in a bear canister or bear bag. Bear canisters are required on a lot of backcountry trails, so it’s good to have one so that you do not have to wait in line at a rangers station and pay to rent one and return.
I personally prefer this size for 1 or 2 people. Other bear canisters can be quite large and take up your entire pack when you only need about half of the space for your food.
I carry bear spray on every overnight. It’s my personal preference to feeling safer against any encounter (animals or humans)
I bought this device before heading out on my first solo backpacking trip and road trip to Alaska! It gave me so much security having it and knowing I have an SOS button if needed. I was able to keep my parents informed on my location throughout my road trip utilizing the texting capabilities from the middle of the mountains. There are so many other features (weather, tracking) – I highly recommend looking into it.
A first aid kit is part of the 10 essentials for hiking. I recommend buying a small kit like this and then customizing it as you learn what you may need more of.
See my complete guide on finding the right hiking shoes for you HERE
See what clothes I wear hiking and backpacking HERE. If it is warm I usually wear shorts while actively hiking and bring a pair of long leggings for night-time and the morning. Extra pair of socks is key and make sure you bring a warm jacket, gloves and base layer for chilly nights. See my guide linked above.
- Headlamp and extra batteries
- Trowel for burying toilet paper and poop – always bury 6-8 inches deep and 200 feet away from water, trails and campsites
- Pee cloth
- Sunscreen & bug spray
- toiletries (wipes, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, chapstick)
- bug face net
- Trekking poles! (I usually only bring one, but it SAVES my knees)
- Camp Mug
- Pocket knife
- Eating Utensils
- Powerbank & phone charging cable
- camp shoes (mine double as water shoes for river crossings!)
- mask or bandana for COVID safety on the trail
I’m happy to answer any questions you may have in the comments or on Instagram. I hope this was helpful to build your own backpacking packing list!
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