July 31, 2017

Backpacking Gear List

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). Note: this list is continually updated with new gear and replacements.


Osprey Aura 65 Women's 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.

Purchase: REI  /  Amazon

Osprey Ultralight Rain Coverraincover for backpack: Osprey ultralight rain cover, large (3 oz)
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.

Purchase: REI  /  Amazon


Tarptent Moment DW

tent: Tarptent Moment DW (2 lbs 8 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.

Sleep System

Enlightened Equipment Revelation Quilt

sleeping quilt: Enlightened Equipment Revelation (1 lb 6 oz)
(See my full review of the Revelation Quilt) 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. Available only by ordering directly from the manufacturer, you can choose from three fill weights (850, 900, or 950), six temperature ratings, five lengths, four widths, and more than 15 fabric colors for a totally customized quilt. I ordered a 950-fill, 10 degree, short length, regular width quilt with 20D fabric on the outside and optional water resistant stripes. This quilt weighs only 22 ounces, which is less than half as heavy as the my old sleeping bag I used to take backpacking. The Revelation quilt has a short zipper at the foot, with snaps in a few spots and buckles that can be used with included straps to attach the quilt to your sleeping pad. On colder nights, wrap the quilt all the way around your body and connect the buckles and snaps. The top has a pull cord that tightens for keeping warm air inside, but there’s no hood. I wear a hat when I sleep, or if it’s really cold, I wear my puffy with the hood. In hot weather, leave it flat and use like a blanket.

Exped Synmat UL M
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!

Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow
 Therm-a-Rest compressible, medium (9 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 is a bit bulky for backpacking, but it is very comfortable, so I take it whenever possible.

Winter Sleep System

Mountain Hardwear Phantasia 0sleeping bag for colder weather: Mountain Hardwear Phantasia 0 degree (2 lb 8 oz) no longer available, but the Mountain Hardwear Phantom Torch 3 is similar.
I mainly use this sleeping bag in the winter. The Phantasia keeps me toasty warm on the coldest of nights, even when snow camping. I can even go to bed cold, and within about 5-10 minutes, it feels like a heater has been turned on. It has a double zipper, so I can leave the bottom partially unzipped when my feet get too warm. The hood wraps around your head snugly, keeping cold air out, and an inner draft collar blocks the heated air from escaping out of the bag.

sleeping pad: NeoAir Xtherm
winter sleeping pad:
 Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm, regular (15 oz)
This sleeping pad is very comfortable (2.5 inches thick) and lightweight. The Xtherm model has features to help keep you warm, with a reflective coating and an R-value of 5.7. I usually fill it up all the way, then lay on it and let out quite a bit of air until it’s just right. It isn’t the quietest pad, making crinkly bag sounds when you move around on it.

Therm-a-Rest Universal Sheet
(optional) sheet for sleeping pad:
 Therm-a-Rest Universal Sheet (3 oz)
I purchased this sheet to fit over my sleeping pad to keep the sleeping bag from sliding around on (and off) the pad, which the Mountain Hardwear Phantasia will do all night long without a sheet.

REI Backpacker Pillowpillow: REI Backpacker Pillow (6 oz)
This pillow is shaped like the hood on a sleeping bag, so it fits inside the hood of a mummy bag much better and doesn’t pop out. On one side, the fabric is slick polyester, while the other is a polyester/cotton blend so it’s more comfortable to sleep on (and less slippery). The fill is a combination of synthetic and down, good for loft and warmth.


backpacking gear: stove, mug, food bag

  • 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
    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.

backpacking gear: kitchen kit

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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: Sea to Summit Alpha Light Spoon – Long (not shown)
    The longer length of this spoon makes it much easier to stir food that is simmering.
  • spork: Light My Fire

backpacking gear: bear canister(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.


  • first aid kit: 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 and Second Skin blister care.

backpacking gear: essentials

  • emergency blanket: SOL Emergency Bivy (3 oz)
    Shaped like a sleeping bag, this bivy is more durable than a typical emergency blanket.
  • headlamp: Black Diamond Spot (3 oz)
    This headlamp has high-power LEDs that are dimmable, and a red lamp.
  • compass: Suunto MC-2 Pro
  • repair kit: Gear Aid Tenacious Tape
    This tape can be used to repair just about everything.
  • fire starter kit: mini Bic lighter, cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly, waterproof matches
  • extra batteries: 2 AAA for headlamp
  • stuff sack for essentials: Granite Gear Air ZippSack, medium


backpacking toiletries kit

Bathroom Kit

backpacking bathroom kit

  • 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.
  • 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).
  • trowel: Deuce of Spades trowel
    Super lightweight and easy to use.
  • toilet paper or wipes (always carried out after 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 plastic doggie bag inside it so it conceals the contents and keeps the Opsak clean. Also helpful for carrying out doggie poo.
  • hand sanitizer (without alcohol, which aggravates skin conditions like eczema)
  • 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.


backpacking water filter kit

  • hydration bladder: Camelbak Antidote 3 liter (6.5 oz)
    I switched from using only a water bottle to a hydration bladder and now I drink more often, which is important in staying 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.
  • water filter: Sawyer Squeeze Plus (6 oz)
    The Sawyer Squeeze is very lightweight, inexpensive, and does the job well. Using the fast fill adapter kit, the Sawyer filter and bag can be converted to a gravity system.  I made a scooper for gathering the water by cutting the top off of a standard plastic water bottle. Scooping with the water bottle, then pouring into the Sawyer bag helps keep debris out.
  • alternate water filter: MSR HyperFlow (10.3 oz)
    If access to water isn’t easy, 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 difficult to scoop. It’s easy to use and relatively easy to maintain, even while out on a trip.
  • 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. The nozzle for my water filtration pump fits on this bottle, making it part of my water filtering system.
  • 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. At camp, I 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 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.


  • GPS Navigation: Garmin GPSmap 64s (7 oz)
    It takes time to learn how to use it, but this is a full-featured GPS that has helped me stay on the right trail on many trips. Plus, I am able to print custom topo maps using Garmin’s Basecamp GPS software, and after a trip I can download the tracks to use in making maps for my hiking books.
  • 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 Garmin GPS, DeLorme InReach and iPhone.


backpacking clothing

Clothing shown is for a typical spring/fall backpacking trip in the Pacific Northwest. In the summer, I add a sleeveless top and shorts, but still take everything else shown here since most summer trips are to alpine areas where it tends to be colder overnight.

backpacking warm essentials


  • 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.

Luxury Items

  • backpacking chair: Tribe Provisions Adventure Chair (1 lb 3 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. I used to own the Alite Mayfly Chair (1 lb 4 oz), but replaced it for a chair that sits higher, helpful for those of us with back issues.
  • sit seat: REI sit seat (4 oz)
    I take this on day hikes, for making sitting on the wet ground or hard rocks much more pleasant.
  • umbrella: Montbell sun blocker umbrella (8 oz)
    Though I still haven’t used this umbrella, I plan to use it in the rain if I need to, but the main reason I bought it is to keep the sun off me on exposed hikes.


backpacking wallet

  • 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.
  • water resistant trail running shoes: Saucony Xodus ISO Runshield
    These are comfortable for use in cold and wet spring and fall weather, keeping my feet dry on rainy Pacific Northwest trails.
  • winter hiking boots: Keen Kovan Polar
    I use these boots primarily for snowshoeing in the winter. I wanted a boot to keep my feet warm and dry in the snow, yet not be stiff. These are very comfortable without needing to be broken in.

Trekking Poles

  • 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.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that I make a small commission if a purchase is made. This does not change the price of the item. Regardless, the items listed here are owned by me and purchased with my own funds. All reviews are unbiased and not paid for by any company. Thank you for supporting this blog!

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  • Heather Currey

    Thanks for sharing your list. Have you been using the Bidet long and how inconvenient is it? Inquiring minds what to know…

    • I’ve been using a bidet for about 5 months and now I don’t like to use the bathroom without it while hiking or backpacking. The only inconvenience is filling it with water. It’s just a plastic bottle with a spray nozzle on a long wand. The actual use is quite easy… just hold it behind you, aim and squeeze the bottle. It never touches your body, so it stays clean. It’s handy for washing your hands too. Some people don’t like to use it in cold weather, but I don’t mind getting sprayed with cold water.

    • Heather Currey

      Thanks for the reply! I ordered one 🙂

  • Monica Ozwoeld

    Lisa, what a detailed incredible guide for backpacking. I am just printing it out.

    • Thanks Monica! I’m glad it is of use to you.

  • Martha Koenig

    What a great, clear list, Lisa! Thank you for compiling.
    Have you ever done a post of “Yeah, I brought this item this one time and decided it wasn’t worth it because….”? You mention a couple items here, but I’d love to hear more of those stories if you feel like writing them in your non-hater voice.

    • Well, I do take a lot of stuff, but there are a few things that I don’t bother with… like extra clothes. I only take the pants and shirts I wear to hike in, but do take base layers to sleep in so the sleeping bag stays clean. I find that there’s no need for much more than that… two pair of underwear (wash one, wear one), and three pairs of socks. For a trip to the Wallowas, it was hot on the drive in, so I zipped off the legs of my hiking pants so I was wearing shorts, but I forgot and left the pant legs in the car. I wish I had remembered them since it did get fairly cold overnight (32 degrees). All was good, however, since I wore my base layer pants under the shorts when I needed to. Some people like to take a book to read at night, and besides not wanting the extra weight, I just am not in the mood to read while backpacking. I like to be as unplugged as possible. I also don’t like to use/listen/read on my phone, but I do take my phone. And I don’t take many toiletries… no deodorant (we all smell good, so why bother!) and no makeup (we look good too!).