The Brief and Only Backpacking Checklist You’ll Ever Need

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Did you know that one backpacker stayed in the wilderness for more than a quarter of a century? There’s something so appealing about leaving the hustle and bustle of society behind and enjoying the freedom of the forest trails.

Of course, backpacking for 25 years represents backpacking to the extreme. Most backpackers are content to spend a long weekend in the mountains! If you’ve ever thought about backpacking, you probably find yourself both excited and a little nervous at the prospect.

What should you bring to make sure you stay safe, hydrated, and fed? This backpacking checklist will answer that question. Read on to learn everything you need to bring on your next backpacking trip.


When it comes to your sleeping setup, almost every backpacking professional says the same thing: do you want to hike comfortably or sleep comfortably? The more you bring, the harder it is to hike but the better you’ll be able to sleep.

With that in mind, try to find the lightest items without completely sacrificing your comfort.

You’ll need three basic things: a tent, a sleeping bag, and a sleeping pad. You can also find several lightweight camping pillows that can provide a bit of comfort.

Some of the lightest tents available are less than 20oz, but most are around 40oz. That’s a good weight for both sleeping and hiking in relative comfort.

Picking your sleeping bag depends on the season. The warmer your sleeping bag is, the heavier it will be.

A good sleeping pad will keep your sleep comfortable, no matter how rocky the ground is. Find the lightest one possible that still lets you sleep.


Besides sleeping, cooking is another important aspect of your hiking basecamp.

You’ll need a backpacking stove: a lightweight, gas-powered cooker. You’ll be able to boil water and cook simple dishes with it. Don’t forget fuel and a lighter!

The simplest cooking method is to just boil some freeze-dried meals. They’re lightweight and easy to cook. If you plan to go more complex, you’ll also have to add some pots to your pack.

In addition, get a set of camping utensils, a bowl, a knife, and a mug.

Research the water source in your area and determine what kind of water treatment you’ll need. You might need a filter or you might just have to boil your water. Either way, pack a water bottle to carry water with you while you’re going hiking.

Personal Care Items

While you’re hiking there are a few personal care items and toiletries that you should never forget. Here’s a quick list:

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Quick-drying towel
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Hand sanitizer or wet wipes
  • Toilet paper
  • Trash bag
  • Small trowel
  • First aid kit
  • Firestarter
  • Whistle
  • GPS and map
  • Compass

Make sure to never skimp on your GPS. This will help keep you oriented, and guide you home if you get lost.


There’s no harm in adding a few extras to your pack. Think national park stickers, keychains, and other fun souvenirs! They make a good record of the places you’ve set up camp!

Start Preparing for Your Trip With Our Backpacking Checklist

The specifics of what you pack depend on your intended camping spot, but this backpacking checklist will give you a great start. With it, you can start packing like a hiking expert! Keep it on hand next time you pack for your next trip and have a safe and fun time in the wild!

If you enjoyed learning about backpacking, check out our blog for more content about travel and the tourism industry!

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