Backpacking Gear Checklist

backpacking gear checklist

There are many approaches to backpacking gear checklists – and most contain extra gear that can weigh down a backpack. This is my minimalist approach to what I take on three-season trips.

A backpacking checklist should be based on the gear you use, so while I’m providing this list here, I encourage you to make your own list based on your actual gear.

Don’t forgot to review your checklist before you head out on a trip and you’ll be less likely to leave something important behind. I once forgot a spoon, and while that may not seem like a big deal, for every meal on a five day trip in the Olympics, I had to wait for my friends to finish eating so I could borrow their spoon. I’m not gifted at being able to carve a spoon from a stick, but I did learn how to use the pliers on my multi-tool as a makeshift eating utensil on more than one occasion. If only I’d remembered to check my list…

For a full list of what I take on backpacking trips, including what I like about each item, the weight of each item and links to purchase, see My Backpacking Gear List – A Lightweight & Comfortable Approach.


  • tent body & rainfly
  • tent poles
  • tent footprint
  • tent stakes

Sleep System

  • sleeping bag/quilt
  • sleeping pad
  • pillow

Kitchen Gear

  • backpacking stove
  • fuel canister
  • cookset/pot
  • spoon/spork
  • biodegradable soap in tiny bottle
  • pack towel for drying dishes

Food Storage

  • bear canister / bear bag / food sack with carabiner and cording to hang food
  • odor proof plastic bags to store food in

Hydration & Water Filtering Gear

  • water bottle / hydration bladder
  • water filter
  • container for collecting dirty water
  • container to store clean water
  • connector hose for gravity filtering


  • map for navigation
  • repair kit
  • knife or multi-tool
  • headlamp


  • smartphone
  • battery backup and cords
  • SOS communication device

First Aid

  • prescription medications
  • over the counter medications (antihistamine, ibuprofen, antacid, anti-diarrheal)
  • bandages / gauze
  • syringe for cleaning wounds
  • tweezers

Personal Hygiene & Bathroom Kit

  • toothbrush, toothpaste
  • comb
  • sunscreen, body lotion, chafing cream, lip balm
  • trowel
  • wipes / toilet paper / pee cloth
  • hand sanitizer
  • plastic bag to carry out tp/wipes
  • portable bidet (water bottle with spray head)
  • laundry kit for longer trips (gallon-size plastic bag, biodegradable soap, cordage, mini-binder clips for hanging items to dry)

Gear for Buggy Conditions

  • insect repellent lotion or spray
  • head net
  • mosquito repeller device

Luxury Gear

  • backpacking chair
  • camera, mini-tripod, extra batteries

Additional Gear

  • trekking poles
  • wallet with ID, cash, credit/debit card, medical card, car keys
  • notebook, pen
  • sit seat pad

Clothing & Outerwear

For Hiking

  • shirt
  • pants
  • socks
  • shoes / boots
  • hat with brim

For Sleeping

  • base layer top
  • base layer bottoms
  • socks

For Rain

  • rain jacket (always take!)
  • rain pants (optional)

For Warmth

  • insulated jacket
  • hat / beanie
  • gloves
  • additional layers if needed for colder conditions
    • insulated pants
    • fleece top or jacket
    • neck gaiter

Extra Clothing

  • extra underwear (one pair)
  • extra socks (two pair)

Items to take for the drive

  • water bottle
  • wipes
  • clothes to change into at the end of the trip
  • snacks