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The Complete Backpacking Checklist: Essential Items to Pack

The Complete Backpacking Checklist: Essential Items to Pack

Exploring the great outdoors with only what you can carry on your back is a liberating, unique feeling travelers worldwide chase. Whether you prefer secluded beaches, pristine mountaintops, or hidden valleys, making it a backpacking trip adds an incredible layer of adventure. This is our complete backpacking checklist to help you travel the right way.

A lot of preparation goes into a successful backpacking trip, though. It’s more complicated than packing a tent and some trail mix. Most travelers learn this by experience, and it can take time to know where to start.

With this checklist, backpacking on your next trip into nature should be easier and more enjoyable to plan. We’ve tried to think of everything the average hiker might need while off-the-grid (and maybe even everything the less-than-average hiker, like myself, would need!)

Read on for the complete ViaTravelers backpacker gear guide and our top tips for exploring the beautiful world. We’ve also included the specific products you’d find in our packs.

How to Choose the Right Backpacking Gear

Warm Winter Backpacking Destinations

Search for backpacking gear on Amazon, and you’ll find more results than any human could sort through. That’s because not all backpackers or backpacking trips are created equal, and it’s important to shop with your destination, capabilities, experience, and other conditions in mind.


Your budget is the first thing you’ll want to consider when purchasing your backpacking gear. If backpacking is something you’ll be spending a lot of time doing, whether it’s going on an extended trip or multiple backpacking trips throughout the year, you’ll want to invest in pieces that are durable and can last throughout the years. This may mean spending more on higher-quality items, especially regarding your backpack, camping gear, and footwear.

If you’re a novice backpacker just looking to dabble into the backpacking life, saving on certain items (like clothing) and cutting down to the bare essentials is the best way to go. If you love it, you can invest in more expensive items that will last years and years.


Your equipment for backpacking will greatly depend on the type of activities you like and plan to do on your future trips. For example, if you plan to do a lot of hiking, you’ll definitely want a sturdy pair of hiking boots and a pair of trekking poles. If water sports like kayaking are on your list, you’ll definitely want to add a dry pack to your list.

Conversely, if you know you won’t be doing certain things, like cooking outdoors, don’t pack things like a portable stove or foods that need to be warmed up. Before your trip, take note of any amenities available where you’re going, such as a bathroom or shower, so you won’t waste space by carrying unnecessary items.

Time of Year

This is especially important to consider if you are headed to a new destination, like a different country or state. Whether it’s winter, spring, summer, or fall, there are places with more ways to describe the seasons – wet and dry are some that come to mind, along with hurricane and non-hurricane.

These seasonal patterns indicate whether you need waterproof gear, a heavier blanket, or more serious emergency equipment. Do not go backpacking if the time of year is a very dangerous one!

Pack Weight

Some travelers are wonderfully fit people who can carry unbelievable gear on their backs. I am not one of them. If you’re like me, you need to plan your backpacking trip carefully not to require excessive gear, and you even need to watch the weight of individual items.

There’s a term in the backpacking community called ultralight backpacking, essentially traveling with minimal weight and very light gear. This idea is popular with experienced backpackers, too, as it challenges them to live with less and maximize their fun. Look for ultralight gear if you are concerned about weight.

Deciding on the Best Backpack for You

Search for backpacking gear on Amazon, and you’ll probably find more results than any human could sort through (believe me, I tried). The reason for this sprawling sea of results is that not all backpackers or backpacking trips are created equal, and it’s important to shop with your destination, capabilities, experience, and other conditions in mind.

Trip Length: 1-3 days

Shanyk 36-liter waterproof backpack
Image by Amazon

If you’re only headed out for the day, you can often get away with a 50-liter or less backpack. This way, you aren’t carrying extra weight without a purpose and still have room for everything you need.

The Zomake 35L Lightweight Daypack is a low-cost option that condenses very well for packing into a suitcase. There are a variety of colors available, and this basic bag is great to bring on vacation for day hikes that don’t involve camping.

On the other hand, if you are planning to spend the night in the wild, your load will increase significantly. But if it’s just for a night or two, you won’t need much extra clothing or a lot of food. The Shanyk 36L Waterproof Backpack has appropriate volume, water resistance, and the straps and clips needed to tack gear onto the exterior.

Trip Length: 4-6 days

Teton Sports 50-liter backpack
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Once backpacking trips start to pass a night or two, the pack size needed becomes larger and larger. Unless you are a seriously skilled hunter or fisherman who can guarantee a catch, you’ll need three meals a day in tow. You also won’t want to be in the same clothes for that length of time… trust me.

Hopefully, you aren’t backpacking alone, and one or more friends can help share the load. In that case, a backpack in the 50-liter range is usually sufficient. Teton Sports makes a 50L internal frame pack that only weighs 4.5 pounds and has plenty of space for your gear. That internal frame keeps the pack durable and your body comfortable, too.

Trip Length: 7+ days

Osprey Aether Plus 100 backpack
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Realistically, only experienced backpackers should be out in nature for a week or more at a time. This requires a high level of physical fitness, extensive knowledge of the environment, and mental strength to complete the challenge. It also requires a lot more gear and a bigger pack.

If you’re going big, it’s best to go with a high-quality pack, like the Osprey Aether Plus 100. This backpack isn’t cheap, but it’s big, rain-resistant, and durable enough for an extended adventure.

You should have enough room for cooking equipment, a sleeping pad, and even more with its loads of space and extra straps on the outside.

Packing Essentials

Packing Cubes

Set of 8 packing cubes in light pink

A set of packing cubes is an absolutely essential lightweight backpacking gear item. Having everything in your pack organized will save you time so you can focus more on your outdoor adventure. This set of 8 packing cubes also includes a drawstring laundry bag to keep your dirty clothes separate from everything else and a cosmetics bag.

Toiletries Bag

Pink women's hanging toiletry bag
Image by Amazon

Having a waterproof toiletries bag allows you to keep all of your soaps and liquids in one place without worrying about them leaking onto your other belongings. This BAGSMART toiletry bag holds all your essentials while still being adorable. It comes with a hook, so you can hang it on any shower (if you’re lucky enough to have one).

This men’s version offers enough room for all your essentials while still being compact enough to fit in your pack during any backpacking trip. It features multiple compartments and elastic straps to keep all of your belongings organized.

Clothing Essentials

Rain Gear

Columbia Men's rain jacket in black

A lightweight rain jacket should be on your list no matter where you’re backpacking trip is or what time of year it is. You never know when the weather might change during a day on the trail. This women’s rain jacket is lightweight and folds up to the size of your hand.

Being prepared with rain gear ensures that any unexpected weather won’t ruin your backpacking trip. This highly-rated men’s rain jacket is also packable and breathable while also protecting you from the elements.

If matching sets are your thing, this rain gear combo by RainRider comes with an ultralight rain jacket and rain pants to keep you dry and comfortable. It comes in a wide range of sizes and is great for both men and women.

Hiking Pants

Men's hiking pants in grey
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If your backpacking trip involves lots of long hikes, you’ll certainly want to pack at least one to two pairs of hiking pants. Hiking pants should be lightweight, breathable, and allow you to have a full range of movement.

These BALEAF women’s hiking pants are comfortable and are made with UPF 50 material to protect you from the sun. Click here for the men’s version, which features loads of pockets and a belt.

Hiking Shorts

Women's hiking shorts in burgundy
Image by Amazon

Though hiking pants can protect you from the elements in all weather conditions, you might want to change it up when it comes to warmer weather. Here’s where hiking shorts enter the equation. I love these shorts from MASKERT, which come in a ton of different colors.

They’re lightweight, waterproof, offer UPF 50 sun protection, quick drying, and feature four pockets, two of which are zippered. I personally like to opt for a longer inseam to ensure a more comfortable fit throughout the day.

For the guys, these men’s hiking cargo shorts feature six pockets, water-repellent fabric, and a D-ring to hook any necessary hiking gear.

Breathable Clothing

Women's white long-sleeve hiking shirt
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Breathable clothing is something that should be at the top of your backpacker’s checklist. When you’re out and about, you want to focus on the trip, not the way your clothes feel. There are three things I look for when picking out tops for a backpacking adventure:

  • Breathability
  • Moisture-Wicking
  • Sun protection

You don’t want to be feeling gross and sweaty while trying to enjoy the great outdoors. These Vapor Apparel shirts are awesome and come in both long-sleeve and short-sleeve form. They are quick-drying and are made for outdoor activities. Dudes, don’t fret; Vapor makes these wonderful shirts for you, too.

Hiking Socks

A pair of Columbia moisture control crew socks in brown

If your backpacking trip consists of some fun winter camping, you’ll definitely want to pay attention to what kind of socks are on your backpacking list of gear. You’ll want to look for hiking socks that will keep you warm but also control moisture to keep you comfortable all day long.

The Columbia Moisture Control crew socks are the perfect thing. They are breathable yet still keep your feet toasty warm, with the fantastic quality that the Columbia brand is known for. They also make a great gift for the traveler in your life!

Polarized Sunglasses

Three pairs of polarized sunglasses
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When you’re adventuring out in the sun all day, you’ll definitely want to protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. These DEMIKOS polarized sunglasses will become your best friend. They don’t have to be from the most expensive brands; they just have to be polarized.

Look for sunglasses that provide 100 percent protection from UVA and UVB rays. Anything around UV 400 is ideal. I never bring anything with me on a camping or hiking trip that is super expensive and can break easily, and sometimes I bring an extra pair if it’s a longer trip.


Beige Columbia hat
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A hat is another way to protect yourself from the elements on your backpacking journey. You’ll want something lightweight and a brim that is long enough to shade your entire face and neck. This Columbia booney hat is my favorite! I first got it for a family fishing trip and have been using it ever since.

It blocks UVA and UVB rays, includes a moisture-wicking sweatband, and a vent panel for breathability. It’s completely adjustable and folds up super small when you’re not using it.


black speedo one piece swimsuit
Image by Amazon

If you’re planning to backpack during the warmer months, you’ll probably want to take a dip wherever you’re going. Especially if you’ll be around a lake or (swimmable) river. Even if not, you may want to pack a swimsuit just in case.

I consider a swimsuit as one of my backpacking essentials because you’ll need it whether you’re planning a trip to Costa Rica, hiking to Havasu Falls in the Grand Canyon, or even just camping near your local lake. It also comes in handy if you’d like to shower out in the wild.

Camp Shoes

A white pair of slide slippers
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After a long day of walking around in your hiking boots, you probably won’t want to keep them on once you reach your campsite for the night. Allow your feet to breathe for the remainder of the day and change into something more comfortable, like a pair of slides. If you’re short on space, you can also opt for a basic pair of flip-flops instead.

I recommend anything that can get wet and nothing that’s too expensive. They’ll most likely get pretty dirty and, depending on the terrain, could retain some damage over time.

Laundry Bag

Black laundry bag that is waterproof, prevents odors, and is convenient to hold
Image by Amazon

If your backpacking adventures consist of multi-day hikes, a laundry bag should certainly be on your backpacker checklist. Keeping your dirty clothes separated from all of your other belongings will give you peace of mind.

This pack of two laundry bags is perfect for carrying all your sweaty hiking clothes until you’re able to wash them. They are washable and waterproof, so they can hold any wet swimming clothes and be washed along with the rest of your clothes.

Food and Water

Portable Backpacking Stove

Portable camping stove with canisters of gas (not included)
Image by Amazon

If you plan to be backpacking for more than just a few days, add a backpacking stove to your backpacker gear list. Not only is it essential in order to heat up or cook any food that you bring, but it can also be used to boil water if you run out and don’t have a water filter on you.

This portable camping stove is awesome. All you need is a small canister of isobutane or propane and a match or lighter. Then, bam! You have a way of cooking a nice warm meal. You may find that you love cooking outdoors, and it’ll definitely be a fun memory for kids.

Dehydrated Food

Pack of freeze-dried strawberries from Natierra
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Dehydrated food has been around for a while, but only recently has it become a fun way to enjoy your favorite snacks. Freeze-dried fruits are my absolute favorite thing to snack on whether I’m out adventuring, on a plane, or even just at home on the couch. They’re fantastic on backpacking trips because they’re lightweight but still have all their nutrients intact.

If you’re planning for multi-day backpacking trips, you may also want to consider freeze-dried meals. Now, I have to be honest. Do they look the best? Not really. But all you have to do is add water and you’ll have a complete meal ready in just minutes!


A pack of camping cookware including pots, pans, bowls, and spoons
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No backpacking trip in the great outdoors is complete without some outdoor cooking. It’s all part of the experience! In order to do so, you’ll have to have the right camping gear, including pots and pans.

This 11-piece cooking set from Wealers is perfect for an ultralight backpacking kit because it all fits into a small and compact mesh bag that you can totally fit into your pack. The set includes two pans, two pots, two spoons, three bowls, and a sponge. It’s the perfect all-encompassing mess kit and is easy to clean and handle.

Bear Canister

A large blue bear canister
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A bear canister is a necessity that will not only keep your food from being eaten but it will also keep you safe! The point of a bear canister is to prevent your food from not getting stolen by any bears that may walk by your camp. It also helps bears to not associate humans with food.

Bear canisters aren’t smell-proof, so bears may still be able to smell your food. This is why you should keep any smelly food away from your camp while you’re sleeping. Good bear canisters will be certified by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee to be bear-proof. If a bear does find your canister but is unable to get in, it will allow you to continue on your way without having to turn back due to a lack of provisions.

Water Filter

LifeStraw water filter
Image by Amazon

One piece of backpacking gear that should always be on your travel backpacking checklist, no matter where you’re going, is a water filter. This is especially important if you’re going on a long journey where you won’t be able to carry in all of your clean water or if you’re traveling to a foreign country.

The LifeStraw is always a go-to for me. One straw can purify up to 1,000 gallons of safe drinking water with correct use and maintenance. The brand also makes water bottles with built-in straws if that is more convenient for you.


White Yeti brand cooler
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If you’re backpacking with a large group of people, you’ll most likely want a cooler to keep any drinks or fresh foods cold. It also comes in handy if you’re going on a fishing trip with your pals.

I know YETI coolers are a bit pricey (okay… VERY pricey), but they are worth it, in my opinion. The cooler will keep your ice cold all day, and they are certified bear-resistant. It also comes with a dry goods basket so you can keep all your food in one place.

Coolers come in various sizes, so choose one that you’ll think you’ll use the most based on your usual backpacking trip lengths and the number of people you go with (solo, couple, family, group, etc.).

Instant Coffee

Single-serving packs of Nescafe Taster's Choice instant coffee
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I could go on and on about my favorite backpacking food, but something that is an absolute non-negotiable for me is coffee. There’s truly nothing better than waking up surrounded by nature and enjoying a warm cup of coffee during those chilly mornings.

While I love a good espresso when I’m at home, opting for instant coffee just makes more sense for backpacking trips. All you need to do is add hot water, and you’ve got yourself a cup of joe. NESCAFE’s Taster’s Choice is my favorite instant coffee. I enjoy the chocolatey flavor, and there’s no grittiness that I’ve experienced with other instant coffee brands.

Insulated Tumbler

Ice pink 20-ounce YETI rambler
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Making a steamy hot coffee without having a proper vessel to put it in would be a waste. My tried-and-true coffee tumbler is my 20-ounce YETI rambler (in ice pink, of course). You’ll be thankful for a little warmth when you wake up to the cool, crisp air. It’ll also come in handy on those cool evenings when you want to enjoy a hot chocolate, and it can even be used to keep soup warm for hours.

Hiking Essentials

Hiking Boots

Brown leather men's hiking boots from Columbia

When backpacking through the wilderness, besides the backpack itself, probably the most important thing to have on your backpacking checklist is a good-quality pair of hiking shoes or boots. Three things to consider when choosing a pair of hiking boots:

  • Durability
  • Waterproof-ness
  • Comfort

Columbia’s Newton Ridge hiking shoes check off all of the above, and they come in both women’s and men’s styles of shoes. The leather styles are better for cooler climates as they provide more warmth, while the canvas and suede version is more breathable. Make sure to break in any new hiking footwear for at least a week before taking them out on the trail.

Trekking Poles

Man using trekking poles
Image by Amazon

You’ll often see folks in the backpacking world walking around with trekking poles, like these ones from TrailBuddy. This important piece of backpacking gear assists backpackers with navigating through tough terrain by taking some of the strain off of their legs and feet. They also increase stability, allowing you to move more quickly and confidently.

Look for a pair of trekking poles that is durable yet also lightweight since you’ll be carrying them around all day whether they’re in use or not.

You’ll also want to look for comfortable handles preferably made of moisture-wicking material. One more feature that is great to have is interchangeable feet on the trekking poles so you can change them out based on the type of terrain you’re hiking.

Waterproof Dry Pack

Orange dry pack with phone holder
Image by Amazon

A waterproof dry pack, like this one from Earth Pak, should be on everyone’s lightweight backpacking checklist. A bag like this will ensure that all of your most important belongings, such as your phone and camera gear, can be protected from water damage.

This is also something that is easily compacted and can be folded and kept in your main backpack when you don’t need it. It’s perfect for water activities like paddle boarding, kayaking, and fishing, or it can even be used in the event of an unexpected downpour.

Camping Essentials


Green camouflage single person tent
Image by Amazon

When searching for the perfect backpacking tent, you’ll want to look for something that is durable and can withstand any unfavorable weather conditions while still being light enough to carry with you on your long backpacking days.

Ultralight tents can come in all sizes, from individual tents like this ultralight one-person tent to two-person tents like this one all the way up to family-sized tents. Make sure to choose one that best fits your situation. You don’t want to be carrying extra weight because of a tent that is too large.

Sleeping Bags

Packed away blue sleeping bag
Image by Amazon

I don’t need to tell you that a sleeping bag is absolutely essential to have on your backpacking gear checklist. You’ll want to research sleeping bags that offer a high warmth-to-weight ratio, meaning that they provide a high level of warmth without contributing too much weight to your pack.

An envelope-style sleeping bag like this one is great for warmer months, as you won’t need too much additional warmth, and it weighs just over one pound. However, if you require a little more protection from the cold, a sleeping bag like this sleeping bag from VILLEY is rated for weather between 32 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you’re considering some winter camping, it’s important to have a sleeping bag that will provide extra warmth, even if it impacts your pack weight a little bit. This flannel-lined sleeping bag is rated for temperatures between 18 and 32 degrees and weighs in at just over five pounds. If sleeping in a tent is uncomfortable for you, consider adding a sleeping pad. Speaking of which…

Sleeping Pad

Blue inflatable sleeping pad
Image by Amazon

If the thought of sleeping on cold hard ground in a sleeping bag already has your back aching, try adding an inflatable sleeping pad. This piece of backpacking gear can make a big difference in your sleep quality, which contributes to whether or not you’ll have a successful backpacking trip.

This Sleepingo inflatable sleeping pad is made with durable ripstop nylon and adds up to two inches of sleep support. It weighs less than one pound and rolls up to the size of a small water bottle.


Blue memory foam camping pillow
Image by Amazon

For even more comfort, you can add a compressible pillow to your backpacking gear checklist. I would recommend a pillow made of memory foam like this one over an inflatable pillow. Personally, I find inflatable pillows too stiff and uncomfortable. They’re not worth the space and weight they may save.

Portable Shower

Green portable solar shower with hose attachment
Image by Amazon

If you’re going somewhere that doesn’t have designated restroom facilities, a portable shower would make a great addition to your backpacking checklist. Consider a solar shower that will warm up the water before you shower using power from the sun.

This solar shower from KIPIDA folds up nicely when not in use and also features a small toiletries pocket and a place to hang the hose so you can enjoy a refreshing hands-free shower experience.

It does take about three hours in direct sunlight to heat the water to a hot temperature (113º), so fill it up before you leave your campsite for the day.

Personal Care Essentials

Sun Protection

La Roche Posay SPF 50 face sunscreen
Image by Amazon

You don’t want to neglect your skin while on an extended outdoor adventure. La Roche Posay Anthelios Ultra Light SPF 50 is my go-to for face sunscreen. The bottle is small, so it can fit anywhere. As for the formula, it’s non-greasy and doesn’t break me out or clog my pores. It can even fit in the hip belt pocket of your backpack, so you can reapply it every few hours.

As for body sun protection, I definitely recommend wearing a breathable long sleeve shirt with some kind of UV protection. As an added layer, I like to apply any spray sunscreen like this one. Spray sunscreen is quick to use and great for when you’re outside all day. Make sure to find one that is water-resistant and reapply as directed.

Insect Repellent

Travel size bottle of OFF! Botanicals insect repellent
Image by Amazon

If you love backpacking but don’t love the annoying bugs that come with enjoying the great outdoors, you’re going to want to have some sort of insect repellent on you at all times. The OFF! Botanicals repellant repels bugs without the strong scent of many other insect repellents on the market. Plus, this one comes in a travel size so it’s awesome to have on a backpacking trip when you’re limited on space. Being plant-based, it’s also better for the environment!

Biodegradable Soap

Green container of trek & travel body wash soap leaves
Image by Amazon

When your goal is to be an ultralight backpacker, you’ll want to find a lightweight alternative for all of your normal, everyday items. One easy swap is your soap. Instead of bringing a big bottle of body wash, consider trying these soap leaves from SeaToSummit. All you need to do is add water to about two to three leaves, and it’ll turn into a sudsy soap that you can use to clean your body. They completely disintegrate and are made using environmentally-friendly ingredients.

If you want something a bit more substantial to wash your hair, bring a few of these EarthRx soap pods. They’re basically like laundry detergent pods but filled with soap for your body instead.

Toilet Paper

Packet of 100 compressed towelettes
Image by Amazon

Even if you plan to backpack somewhere with bathroom facilities, don’t count on them being stocked with toilet paper. One roll should last you through your entire trip. If you’re a fan of wet wipes, you can bring a few of these Portawipes Coin Tissues. They’re compact, super convenient to bring with you anywhere, and biodegradable.

One pack of Portawipes comes with 100 dry towels and two small waterproof cases for them. All you need to do is add a teaspoon or two of water and you’re good to go, literally.

Feminine Hygiene Products

Pink menstrual cup from Saalt
Image by Amazon

Sometimes that “time of the month” isn’t always at the same time. Even if you plan your backpacking trip to not interfere with your menstrual cycle, you should always be prepared. The easiest and most environmental-friendly way to handle this situation is by using a menstrual cup.

They can be used all day and don’t have to be thrown away like pads and tampons. Just wash it out and sterilize it properly between each use. Make sure to try it out at home before you take it on a backpacking trip to ensure it’s comfortable for you.


Bausch and Lomb BioTrue contact solution
Image by Amazon

Please, please, PLEASE do not forget to add any prescriptions and medical necessities to your backpacking checklist. I once forgot to pack a backup pair of contact lenses after one of mine fell out and it was…not a good time.

Make a list of necessary medications that you’ll need in order to go on your trip. If you can keep duplicates in your backpack (like a travel-size contact solution), that will also help you out in the long run. Just don’t forget to replace any empty items before you leave on your trip.

Safety Essentials

First-Aid Kit

First aid kit featuring bandages, scissors, ice packs, burn cream, and more
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Being prepared with a first-aid kit is a no-brainer, but it should be on your backpacking checklist, so you don’t forget. I always like to leave one in my backpack so that I never forget to pack it. As long as you’re not going anywhere completely off-grid, a basic first-aid kit like this one should suffice.

You’ll want your kit to include bandages, a pair of scissors, alcohol wipes, burn cream, and medical-grade tape. Other things like safety pins, an instant ice pack, and tweezers can also be useful.

Duct Tape

Rolls of silver duct tape
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A roll of duct tape can come in handy for a multitude of situations. If your tent rips in the middle of the night or your shoe gets punctured, duct tape can offer a quick fix until you can get these items repaired. There’s really not much else to it!

Waterproof Matches

Orange canister of waterproof matches
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Even if you are just going for a day hike and won’t be spending the night, it doesn’t hurt to have access to fire. Matches are small, light, and can literally save your life if you get lost or stuck overnight.

Even more useful are waterproof matches that can be used whether it’s raining, you drop them in a lake, or you need to cross a river. These come in a waterproof case that floats for extra protection and will light even if they go under.


Multi-tool with red handle
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Every camper and intense hiker should be carrying some form of a multi-tool in the wild. Rather than carrying a bunch of things from your toolbox, save space and weight with a 14-in-1 camping multi-tool and be ready for whatever comes at you.

It could be a horrible storm that forces you to chop down branches for shelter, or it could be an aggressive animal that you need to fight off. Or, it could simply be that you need a bottle opener to enjoy an ice-cold drink after a hike. Whatever it is, you’ll be ready!

LED Headlamp

Headlamp with black strap and LED light
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An LED headlamp is a small item on your backpacking checklist that can have a big impact on your trip. It’s important to have a headlamp so you can see whether you’re exploring a cave or just walking around your campsite at night looking for a place to do your business.

This headlamp from GearLights is super bright and water-resistant. It can be used in a variety of weather conditions and will definitely help to keep you safe in the dark. It also makes for a great birthday gift or stocking stuffer for the outdoorsman in your life.

Rechargeable Lantern

LED rechargeable lantern
Image by Amazon

While headlamps are great in certain situations, you will want a lantern if you want to illuminate your entire tent or camping area. Make sure to look for one that is bright and weatherproof.

This LE LED camping lantern is rechargeable and lasts up to 12 hours on a single charge. Charging your phone or other electronics can also be an additional power bank. It has four lighting modes, including a flash to alert someone of your location in an emergency.

Miscellaneous Essentials

Portable Charger

Solar power bank with flashlight and compass
Image by Amazon

While I adore my Anker portable charger for long trips where I’m traveling and have places to recharge it, that’s not going to fly when it comes to being out in the wilderness. That’s where a solar-powered portable charger comes in.

This portable charger is solar-powered and has a high capacity, so it can charge multiple devices on just one charge. It also features a flashlight, a compass, and a carabiner to latch it onto the outside of you’re backpack, so you can build up a charge as you hike. Additionally, this charger can be plugged into an outlet to recharge if you have electricity access.

Quick Dry Towel

Blue microfiber quick dry towel
Image by Amazon

A quick dry towel may not be one of your first thoughts, but it definitely comes in handy while backpacking. You won’t want to bring a bulky bath towel with you, and you’ll also want something that dries quickly so you can pack it away as you travel from place to place.

This Youphoria microfiber towel is the perfect solution. It packs away to a small size and is quick-drying while also being super absorbent at the same time. The medium-sized towel weighs in at just eight ounces and is the best option for backpacking.

Portable Bluetooth Speaker

JBL Clip 3 portable speaker
Image by Amazon

While you’ll certainly admire the stunning views and scenic trails during your backpacking trip, you might also want to listen to some of your favorite tunes along the way or pass the time at your campsite. A portable Bluetooth speaker is a perfect companion to enjoy some music or your favorite podcasts in the great outdoors.

The JBL Clip 3 Bluetooth speaker is an awesome burst of energy in a tiny package. It’s lightweight and can be clipped anywhere on your tent or backpack. It features 10 hours of playtime and recharges quickly. It can even be fully submerged in water, though we wouldn’t recommend doing that.


What is the most popular backpacking season?

Most hikers prefer to go backpacking in the warmer weather as the days are longer, the gear needed is lighter, and there’s much less shivering involved. However, the cold months open the possibility of seeing snowy landscapes and even the northern lights and eliminating most of the bugs.

What’s the ultimate backpacking checklist for day hikes?

If you’re just headed out for the day, your backpack checklist is shorter, and your gear will be slightly lighter. There’s no need for a tent, sleeping bag, or cooking gear. Important things not to forget for a day hike are insect repellent, sunscreen, a flashlight, and some basic first-aid materials.

What is the best way to save weight on my next backpacking trip?

Carrying all your outdoor gear can get very heavy, and many backpackers have turned to ultralight backpacking in response. This means traveling with minimal gear and going as light as possible. If this is your goal, prioritize weight when shopping for packs, tents, and other gear, and leave behind luxuries like coffee and your portable speaker.

What type of hiking footwear should I buy for my first backpacking trip?

If you’re a first-timer, know that footwear can make or break a backpacking trip. Trail running shoes or trail runners are light and breathable but won’t withstand the same conditions as hiking shoes or hiking boots. Choose your footwear based on the terrain you are headed into.

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