This is my typical three-season backpacking gear list, although I don’t take every item on this list on every trip. What I take depends on many variables, including the weather, trail conditions, hiking distance, etc. For a typical 2-3 night backpacking trip, my final pack weight is 25-30 lbs, including food, water and a few luxury items like my backpacking chair and pillow (does not include items I’m wearing).
backpack: Osprey Aura 65 AG, XS (4.0 lbs)
This is a heavily padded pack with a suspension system that hugs your body. In other words, comfortable. The many pockets and zipped compartments are great for organizing gear. The only flaw on this pack is the teeny tiny openings for the hip belt pockets, which makes them hard to use. However, I’ve heard that the larger size packs have larger pockets. I have the extra small size.
raincover for backpack: Osprey ultralight rain cover, large (3 oz)
If there’s rain in the forecast, I like using a rain cover so the pack doesn’t get wet, and everything in the pockets stays dry too. Since I keep the backpack in my tent, this keeps the tent drier too. This rain cover has elastic cording to pull it tight on your pack regardless of the load or shape. A lot of people use trash compactor bags inside their packs for the ultimate rain protection, but I prefer to use this rain cover. I use waterproof stuff sacks for a lot of my gear inside my pack, and this rain cover hasn’t failed me yet.
tent: Tarptent Moment DW (2 lbs 5 oz)
When I’m backpacking, I like using a single person tent better than sharing a shelter. The Tarptent Moment DW is a one person double-wall tent with two doors and two vestibules – great for storing gear outside of the tent while allowing for easy access in and out of the tent on the other side. An optional crossing pole (6 ounces) makes this tent freestanding, and adds four season capability with snow load support. The Moment DW can be purchased with a mesh interior or a partial solid interior. I have both and can swap them out as needed based on conditions.
sleeping quilt: Enlightened Equipment Revelation (1 lb 6 oz)
After purchasing three different sleeping bags, I’m now using a sleeping quilt. I was looking for something lighter in weight but still warm. I also wanted more flexibility: something more snug when it’s cold, and looser when it’s not. A quilt has the advantage of being more flexible in terms of how it it used. (See my full review of the Revelation Quilt)
sleeping pad: Exped Synmat UL M (16 oz)
Extremely comfortable, lightweight, and quiet! The Exped Synmat has synthetic insulation and an R-value of 3.3. I love the raised baffles on the sides, perfect for keeping my arms off the ground. Almost like sleeping at home! This pad comes with the Schnozzel pump bag for blowing up the air mattress. It only takes two times to fill it. The bag doubles as a waterproof stuff sack, so I used it to pack my quilt and other items that need to stay dry.
pillow: Therm-a-Rest compressible, small (6 oz)
I know, most backpackers don’t take pillows. I’ve tried using clothing in a stuff sack and it’s a no-go for me. Besides, sometimes I end up wearing all of my clothing in my sleeping bag to stay warm. I’ve tried air pillows but don’t like them. This compressible foam-filled pillow makes it possible for me to get a good night’s sleep without a sore neck the next day.
- stove: Jetboil Minimo system (14 oz)
This stove is my entire kitchen setup (with the addition of a spork) and serves as my cooking pot and bowl. I like to cook, and love the simmer feature of the Minimo. It’s easy to clean, so I don’t mind needing to wash it. I eat directly from the cooking pot, so I don’t need to carry anything else. The fuel consumption is minimal (even with simmering meals), so one canister lasts for multiple trips. So far, I’ve used it on over 25 backpacking trips and it’s still working like new.
- fuel for stove: 1 small canister (weight varies based on how much fuel is left – a full canister weighs 7 oz)
- food sack: Osprey Ultralight Dry Sack, 12 liter
I use this stuff sack to carry and hang my food. It’s lightweight, with a large capacity, and it’s completely waterproof (tested on a particularly rainy night in Indian Heaven Wilderness).
- cord for hanging food: BlueWater 3mm NiteLine Utility Cord
The NiteLine cord is highly visible at night when you point your headlamp near it, making it look like a string of lights.
- mug: GSI Outdoors Infinity Backpacker Mug (3.5 oz)
An insulated mug that keeps drinks very hot, with a locking lid that limits spills.
- stuff sack for kitchen kit: Granite Gear Air ZippSack, extra small
I’m a very organized person, so I love to use different color stuff sacks so I can quickly grab what I need. This one is used for things needed at mealtime: my spoon, soap, towel and multi-tool.
- soap: Dr. Brommer’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap (2 oz) (also used in toiletry kit)
One soap, two purposes: for the camp kitchen and the body.
- towel for washing dishes: PackTowl, small – 14″ x 10″ – green (1 oz)
I like to reduce the amount of disposable items I use, and pack towels are a great way to do so. They are lightweight, dry super fast, and this brand is microbial.
- spoon: GSI Outdoors Essential Spoon – Long (not shown)
The longer length of this spoon makes it much easier to stir food that is simmering without burning your hand. The spoon part is covered in silicone which is great for cleaning the pan on my backpacking stove.
(optional) bear canister:
LIGHTER1 Lil’ Sami Polycarbonate Bear-Resistant Food Canister (1 lb 11 oz)
This is one of the lightest and smallest bear canisters currently made, and it’s approved by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee for use in National Parks. The lid to the canister doubles as a lightweight cooking pan, while a metal brace inside the lid adds strength to the plastic canister and serves as a handle for the pan. A lid for the pan is also included in the kit. I’m not sure if I’ll use the pan to cook with since I love cooking with my Jetboil Minimo, but I might if I want to cook something more suited to a skillet than a pan. I bought a bear canister to take on trips where they are required, but I’ve been using it on most of my trips regardless of requirements. This is not due to bears, it’s pesky chipmunks and mice. Some rodents are particularly clever at getting into a food sack that can’t be hung a proper height and/or distance from a tree trunk, and have been known to eat holes in tents and backpacks to get to empty food wrappers (hasn’t happened to me yet, but several of my friends have experienced this). Raccoons and other critters are a problem in some areas as well, and using a bear canister will help eliminate feeding them instead of you.
Food: I can be a picky eater, and I like to cook, so I make my own dehydrated dinners. This helps keep the pack weight down while giving me something healthy and tasty to eat. Look for my recipes on this blog under the Backpacking Recipes topic. I’m planning on adding more over the next year.
- REI First Aid kit
I modified my first aid kit to make it lighter, removing duplicates of items and adding items not included, like a syringe for cleaning wounds, Second Skin blister care, and a tick remover. I highly recommend taking a wilderness first aid class so you know how use the items in your first aid kit.
- headlamp: Princeton Tec Axis rechargeable headlamp (2.7 oz)
This headlamp has high-power LEDs that are dimmable, and a red lamp, and it does not use batteries. Instead, charge it using a mini USB cable. Note: shown above is my old Black Diamond Spot – a good headlamp but it’s not rechargeable.
MAP + COMPASS
- compass: Suunto MC-2 Pro
- maps: I create custom maps to print using Caltopo. Always take paper maps!
- GPS: Gaia GPS app I use the Gaia app on my iPhone to track my hikes
- emergency blankets or bivvies are useful for when you hike away from camp on a backpacking trip, although I tend to take these on hikes more than on backpacking trips.
KNIFE + REPAIR KIT
- repair kit: Gear Aid Tenacious Tape
This tape can be used to repair just about everything.
- multi-tool: Leatherman Squirt PS4 Multi-tool (2 oz)
This multi-tool includes regular pliers, needle-nose pliers, scissors, 3 screwdrivers, wire cutters, wood/metal file, straight knife and a bottle opener. I use the scissors the most.
- I don’t take the small knife shown in the photo – it’s an option to using a multi-tool.
- I also take the repair patches that came with my air mattress, and a small amount of duct tape.
- lighter + waterproof matches + cotton balls for firestarter
I usually only take the lighter on backpacking trips.
- reflective umbrella: Montbell sun blocker umbrella (8 oz)
I only take this on exposed trips at higher altitude for protection from the heat of the sun.
- sunscreen: Sawyer Stay Put Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 (weight varies)
I use a small Nalgene vial to take smaller amounts of sunscreen.
- lip balm with SPF
- hat for sun protection: Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap
- hat, lightweight wool: Icebreaker Chase Beanie (0.9 oz)
- liner gloves: SmartWool 150 Merino Wool Gloves (0.8 oz)
I take these liner gloves on every hike. They can be combined with the waterproof mittens for more warmth.
- gloves (not shown): Black Diamond Mid Weight Digital Liner Gloves (1.7 oz)
These gloves are slim fitting and lightweight, which is great for actually being able to do things with your hands while wearing them! The digital tips make using a smartphone possible too.
- waterproof mittens: Mountain Hardwear Plasmic Outdry Mittens (1.8 oz)
- rain jacket: Outdoor Research Helium II (5.5 oz)
One of the lightest rain jackets available, so it’s easy to tuck in the top pocket of your backpack, just in case.
- stuff sack for hats and gloves Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Stuff Sack, 2.5 L
- mini toothpaste, toothbrush, comb
- sunscreen in GoTube Bottle
- bug spray: Sawyer Picaridin
- 3 containers for various lotions and ointments – humangear GoTubb 0.9 cu. in.
- towel for bathing: PackTowl, medium – purple (1 oz)
- stuff sack for toiletries: Osprey Ultralight Zip Organizer
- toilet paper or wipes (always carried out after use)
- hand sanitizer
- towel used for pee rag: PackTowl, small – 14″ x 10″ – purple (1 oz)
I don’t use toilet paper for peeing, and drip dry doesn’t work well enough for me, so I like using a bidet to spray water and the pee rag for drying off. I keep it on the outside of my pack and it dries super fast, with no smell (this towel is microbial).
- stuff sack for bathroom kit: Granite Gear Air ZippSack, extra-small
Used for my trowel, toilet paper, wipes, hand sanitizer and an odor-proof bag for carrying out used toilet paper.
- trowel: Deuce of Spades trowel
Super lightweight and easy to use.
- odor-proof bag: Loksak Opsak, 11″ x 9″
An odor-proof bag is the best way to pack out used toilet paper. I keep one in my bathroom kit, and place a color plastic doggie bag inside it so it conceals the contents and keeps the Opsak clean. Also helpful for carrying out doggie poo.
- bidet: Blue Bidet BB-20 (2 oz)
There’s nothing like a strong spray of water to keep you feeling clean and refreshed on an overnight trip. This bidet is small and lightweight, and for going #2, it makes toilet paper almost not necessary.
For filtering water on backpacking trips, I use a DIY gravity setup using a Sawyer Squeeze water filter. See my post on how to set up this system.
- bladder for collecting water: CNOC Vecto 2 liter bladder (2.6 oz)
I use this bladder instead of the Sawyer bags for collecting water to filter. The opening at the top makes getting water easier, and the opening at the bottom connects to the Sawyer water filter.
- water filter: Sawyer Squeeze Plus (6 oz)
The Sawyer Squeeze is a popular choice for filtering water and is lightweight and inexpensive.
- water bottle: Nalgene BPA-free Tritan, 1 quart (6 oz)
I didn’t used to take an extra water bottle and instead, accessed all of my water from my hydration bladder in my pack. After a couple of trips, it was easy to see how handy a water bottle would be, especially when cooking or when you want a drink of water and don’t want to lug the backpack around.
- hydration bladder: Camelbak Antidote 3 liter (6.5 oz)
I drink water much more often when I use a hydration bladder, which is important to stay well hydrated. The Camelbak is easy to fill, with a plastic ridge to hold onto and two thin plastic brackets to hold it open. The tube is easily detachable at the bottom for removing the reservoir to refill. The bite valve is easy to use, and I don’t detect a plastic taste in the water. Once at camp, I pull the hydration bladder out of my pack and use it for water storage. Combined with the Nalgene water bottle, I usually filter four liters of water at a time, which is good for a full day’s use while backpacking.
- alternate water filter/pump: MSR HyperFlow (10.3 oz)
If access to water is difficult, this is the water filter that I’ll take since it has a long intake tube and pre-filter that can access water from a small trickle or pool, or a high bank beside a stream or lake where it would be impossible to reach the water for scooping. It’s easy to use and relatively easy to maintain, even while out on a trip. I rarely use this water filter since I converted my Sawyer Squeeze to a gravity setup.
- stuff sack for water system: Osprey StraightJacket Compression Sack, 12L size (2 oz)
With a larger opening and a zipper to close, it’s easy to get things in and out of this waterproof stuff sack. I pack clothing or my down jacket in it to keep them dry in my backpack. Then at camp, I empty it and use it to carry my hydration bladder, filter, and water bottle back and forth from camp to filter water. This keeps me from losing any of the filter parts while keeping everything clean.
- camera: Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera (1 lb)
To get all of the photos that I need for my hiking books and this blog, I take hundreds of photos on every hike, so I always carry a DSLR.
- camera attachment: PeakDesign Capture 3.0 Camera Clip (3 oz)
The Capture attaches to the straps on a backpack to keep your camera easily accessible.
- alternate camera bag: Think Tank Slim Changer (8 oz)
This pouch attaches to a backpack hip belt for ease of access while hiking. It has room for a few extras, which I use for trail snacks and my reading glasses. Pockets on the outside hold the lens cap and a spare battery, and a zippered compartment on the bottom holds a rainfly.
- Personal Locator Device: DeLorme InReach SE (7 oz)
I added the InReach to my backpacking kit for the peace of mind that comes with an SOS device, but also so I could stay in touch with my husband when I’m out backpacking. The InReach SE is a two-way satellite communicator, so you can text back and forth as needed, which could be critical when an emergency requires it. The SOS button contacts emergency responders with your location and message. The device pairs with smartphones for use with the Earthmate app, adding mapping and the ability to type messages on a keyboard instead with the device’s clunky four-direction button. Annual or monthly service plans are required.
- phone: iPhone 6 with LifeProof NUUD case (6 oz)
The LifeProof NUUD case is water, snow and drop proof.
- battery backup: Anker Astro Ei 5200mAh (6 oz)
For recharging my DeLorme InReach, rechargeable headlamp, camera battery, and iPhone. I have a larger battery backup (shown above in white) but I only take this on car camping trips. Also shown are two connection cords.
- I no longer use the Garmin GPS unit shown above. Instead, I use the Gaia app on my iPhone (see Map + Compass above).
Clothing shown is for a typical spring/fall backpacking trip in the Pacific Northwest.
- long sleeve top: Women’s Butterlicious Stripe Long Sleeve Half-Zip
Super soft against the skin, this top feels great day after day. I wear it while hiking and relaxing at camp.
- base layers: Icebreaker Oasis Crew Long Underwear Top and Icebreaker Oasis Long Underwear Leggings
I wear these merino wool base layers for sleeping, and if it’s really cold while hanging around at camp at night, I’ll add them under my hiking clothes.
- puffy jacket: Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer (6.7 oz)
This hooded down jacket is extremely lightweight, provides a lot of warmth, and layers well with an outer shell due it’s trim shape.
- rain jacket: Outdoor Research Helium II (5.5 oz)
One of the lightest rain jackets available, so it’s easy to tuck in the top pocket of your backpack, just in case.
- soft shell jacket: Mountain Hardwear Super Chockstone Hooded Jacket
I’ll wear this soft shell jacket while hiking, which is more breathable than a rain jacket, and won’t cause overheating as easily as an insulated jacket.
- hiking pants: Mountain Hardwear Women’s Dynama Pant
These are extremely comfortable pants for backpacking, with a yoga band top instead of a zipper, and lightweight stretchy fabric. Good for hiking, great for relaxing.
- socks: Icebreaker Hike+ Medium Crew (2 pair) and REI Co-op Lightweight Merino Wool Hiking Crew Socks
Socks are one of the few things that are good to have in multiples for backpacking. I like to take three pair: two are for hiking, and one pair is for sleeping.
- underwear: ExOfficio Give-N-Go Bikini Briefs – Women’s (2 pair)
All you need is two pair: wear one and wash one, they dry super fast.
ADDITIONAL CLOTHING ITEMS
- rain pants: REI Rainwall, women’s petite, including a stuff sack (8 oz)
I only take these if there is a chance of rain in the forecast, although they are also great at keeping your lower body warm in cold temps.
- stuff sack: Osprey StraightJacket Compression Sack, 8L size (2 oz)
I use this stuff sack to keep my clothes in my pack and in my tent at camp. It’s shaped to fit stacked in a backpack.
- backpacking chair: Helinox Chair Zero (16 oz)
A camp chair is certainly a luxury item, but it’s a game changer for me. It helps to be able to fully rest my back at camp, and I use it to load and unload all of my gear, keeping it from getting dusty, wet or muddy. I keep the chair inside the tent vestibule at night, storing gear in it off the ground.
- sit seat: REI sit seat (4 oz) or Therm-a-Rest Z Seat Pad (2 oz)
I take one of these on all trips. On day hikes, they make sitting on the wet ground or hard rocks much more pleasant. At camp, I use one inside the door of my tent to make it easier on my knees getting in and out of my tent.
- solar lantern: Mpowerd Luci Outdoor Lantern (4oz)
I use this lantern inside my tent at night. It lights up the interior better than a headlamp, which is good for getting organized and journaling before going to sleep. I also leave it on when I get up in the night to use the bathroom so I can easily find my tent in the dark.
- wallet: Sea to Summit Traveling Light See Pouch (2 oz)
This wallet holds my eyeglasses, smartphone, car keys, cash, credit card, and ID. One side is clear plastic so I can use my smartphone without removing it from the wallet.
- trail running shoes: Saucony Peregrine 6
I’m a complete convert to trail running shoes over hiking boots, and I’m not a runner. These Saucony Peregrines are very comfortable right out of the box, extremely lightweight, and have the best traction of any hiking boot or shoe I’ve ever worn. They provide great support, even for backpacking with a 30 pound load. I prefer using them to wade creeks and cross streams, and with the open mesh of the shoe allowing the water to drain, they are usually dry before I’m done hiking. Bonus: there’s no need for camp shoes since these are so comfy to wear. I loosen the laces for wearing around camp and to make them easier to slip on and off.
- Black Diamond trekking poles
I take these on every trip, but especially for backpacking to help reduce the impact on the lower body (especially knees) and to keep stabilized on trail. They also help with water crossings and going up (and down) steep steps.
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