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Camping  >> Backpacking Gear

Backpacking Gear

  • Backpacking Tents & Bivys
  • Backpacks
  • Backpacking Sleeping Bags
  • Sleeping Pads
  • Backpacking Food & Cooking
  • Water Filters
  • Trekking Poles
  • GPS & Navigation
  • Clothing & Footwear
  • Headlamps
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    Backpacking Checklist

    Click here for a printable checklist!

    Whether you are going for a short three day trip or a week long excursion you'll need to make sure you've brought the right stuff with you. Here are some suggestions to help make sure you have everything you need:

    Essentials - Items You Can't Do Without

    Tent - There are few things that humans have absolute need of and shelter is one of them. Backpacking tents come in all shapes and sizes; in general a lighter-weight tent is a good choice.

    Sleeping Bag - Everybody needs a bed right? Look for super light weight bags that can be crammed down to very small sizes.

    Sleeping Pad - Unless you like the way the ground feels on your back it's a good idea to have one of these.

    Clothing and Personal Items - Plan on wearing more than one outfit? Then bring some extra clothes. You also might want some toilet paper and a toothbrush while you're out.

    Food - Take extra if you have space, it's always better to have more food.

    Water - Your best bet for saving space is a water filtration unit.

    Fire - Bring matches or a lighter and some kindling if you have room.

    Kitchen Items - Grab yourself a cup, thermos or water bottle to drink out of, drop in some utensils or at least a spork, add a backpacking stove and something to cook in and you'll be ready to cook.

    Tools - Bring a knife or multi-tool it's sure to come in handy. A repair kit for your backpack, tent or sleeping pad is also a good idea.

    Map and Compass - Don't get lost; also learn to use a compass if you plan on bringing one.

    Light - A headlamp or flashlight will get the job done.

    First Aid - Make a first aid kit or grab one that has been pre-assembled. Also bring along sunscreen, UV rays are more intense at higher altitudes.

    Other Nice to Have Items

    • Inflatable Pillow
    • Trekking Poles
    • Fuel
    • Tarp
    • Poncho
    • Whistle
    • Signal Mirror
    • Bug Spray
    • Fishing Gear
    • Soap
    • Iodine
    • Rope
    • Paper and Pencil
    • Shovel
    • GPS
    • Bear Spray
    • Big Foot Repellant
    • Batteries
    • Towel
    • Duct Tape
    • Watch
    • Sherpa

    Backpacking Gear Buyer's Guide

    If you're not a backpacker already, there are many reasons to start. While family camping at regular campgrounds is great, it doesn't provide the same sense of unspoiled nature that you get while backpacking. Backpacking and hiking in general are great ways to get away from the crowds and the noise of city life. There are many health benefits to the exercise involved in backpacking and hiking. While backpacking, staying light is very important because everything you have with you will be on your back, and every ounce counts. Taking the wrong backpacking supplies can hold you back and make your trip much less enjoyable. Read More ...


    When considering a backpack, weight is a large factor - though lighter may not always be better. For example, there are packs that weigh 6.5 lbs, which may seem heavy, but when the pack is worn and the weight distributed, it is easily as comfortable and feels as light as a lighter pack. Another important factor to consider is capacity. The ideal pack will have enough room for what you need with room for just a few additional accessories. Remember to think logically about what you'll need and plan accordingly. Investing in a more comfortable pack will always be worth it when you're 15 miles up the trail. Internal frame packs carry all gear on the inside of the pack, while external frame packs carry sleeping bags exposed to the elements.


    When planning your trip, know how many people you'll be taking with you. There's no reason to carry anything larger than you need. If you have three people, the ideal situation would be to bring a three-person backpacking tent and split the body, poles, fly and stakes between the three of you. While aluminum tent poles can be more expensive, they will be much lighter and more durable. Every ounce you can shed will make your trek more enjoyable. Generally, each part of the tent will weigh about the same. If you have more than three people, it will likely be in your best interest to bring at least two backpacking tents. Another thing to keep in mind is the size of your vestibule. If your tent has no vestibule, it will need a larger interior to keep the rest of your backpacking gear covered.

    Sleeping Bags

    There are two main types of sleeping bags. These are rectangular bags and mummy bags. Rectangular bags are typically larger and have more room to move around in, while mummy bags are typically tighter fitting, warmer, and compress to a smaller size than rectangular bags. Different sleeping bags are filled with different kinds of materials. Bags filled with synthetic materials offer fair insulation and water resistant materials, but will typically take up more space in your pack, as the materials won't compress very well. Down sleeping bags offer the best insulation and compress very well. While down is not as water resistant, water resistant covers are available to solve this problem.

    Food and Cooking

    It's important to know what you're going to be cooking - this will help you determine the kind of stove to bring with you. Will you only be boiling water? If so, you can get away with a smaller stove. Will you be catching fish and cooking them in a pan? In that case, you'll want a stove with a burner you can place your pan on and cook thoroughly. Backpacking food is a great alternative to food that needs to be cooked, as it is lightweight, and only requires water to prepare. If you choose to bring backpacking food, you will still want to bring a stove to heat water.

    Water Filters

    Before going into the wilderness, know where your water will be coming from. It's not always practical to pack four days worth of water in hydration packs with you. Will you be drinking water from a running stream? Will you be filtering for just one person or for a group? Ceramic filters are typically heavier and larger, but will still do a good job. Bringing along water purification tablets is also a good idea. While a filter will typically do the job on its own, having purification tablets as a backup will give you peace of mind that you'll always have a source of water you can drink, while they take up little to no space in your pack. Some bladder packs also have water filters built in to them.


    The accessories you bring, and the number of accessories you take with you on your next backpacking trip, can either make your trip much more enjoyable, or they can hold you back and make you crazy. Additional accessories include GPS devices, lighting accessories, sleeping pads and trekking poles. While these can help make your trip more enjoyable, they can also add a lot of weight to your pack. Keep in mind how long you will be gone. If you're out on a short overnight trip, a first aid kit and a flashlight may be all you need. If you're setting up a base camp for three nights or more, you may want to bring solar chargers, larger lanterns, extra water bottles, batteries, personal hygiene products, a larger first aid kit, a few pocket sized first aid kits and gear repair tools. Wherever you go, be sure to bring tools such as a knife and a fire starting kit.