Backpacking Checklist


Our backpacking checklist is your tried-and-true guide to packing smart. The list is intentionally comprehensive so you don’t forget anything important.

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The Ten Essentials

For safety, survival and basic comfort:

1. Navigation

  • Map (with protective case)
  • Compass
  • GPS (optional)
  • Altimeter (optional)

2. Sun protection

  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Sunglasses

3. Insulation

  • Jacket, vest, pants, gloves, hat (see Clothing, below)

4. Illumination

  • Headlamp or flashlight
  • Extra batteries

5. First-aid supplies

  • First-aid kit (see our First-Aid Checklist)

6. Fire

  • Matches or lighter
  • Waterproof container
  • Fire starter (for emergency survival fire)

7. Repair kit and tools

  • Knife or multi-tool
  • Repair kits for stove, mattress; duct tape strips

8. Nutrition

  • Extra day’s supply of food

9. Hydration

  • Water bottles or hydration reservoirs
  • Water filter or other treatment system

10. Emergency shelter

  • Tent, tarp, bivy or reflective blanket

Beyond the Ten Essentials

  • Backpack
  • Daypack or summit pack
  • Pack cover
  • Tent, tarp or bivy sack (with stakes, guylines)
  • Tent-pole repair sleeve
  • Footprint (if desired for tent)
  • Sleeping bag
  • Stuff sack or compression sack
  • Sleeping pad
  • Pillow or stuffable pillow case
  • Whistle (plus signaling mirror)
  • Multifunction watch with altimeter
  • Trekking poles
  • Ice axe
  • Meals
  • Energy food (bars, gels, chews, trail mix)
  • Energy beverages or drink mixes
  • Stove
  • Fuel
  • Cookset (with pot grabber)
  • Dishes or bowls
  • Utensils
  • Cups (measuring cups)
  • Bear canister (or hang bags for food)
  • Nylon cord (50′ for hanging food)
  • Backup water treatment
  • Collapsible sink or container
  • Packable lantern
  •     _______________

Clothing: Warm Weather

  • Wicking T-shirt (synthetic or wool)
  • Wicking underwear
  • Quick-drying pants or shorts
  • Long-sleeve shirt (for sun, bugs)
  • Sun-shielding hat
  • Bandana or Buff
  •     _______________

Clothing: Cool Weather

  • Wicking long-sleeve T-shirt
  • Wicking long underwear (good sleepwear)
  • Hat, cap, skullcap, balaclava or headband
  • Gloves or mittens
  • Rainwear (jacket, pants)
  • Fleece jacket or vest, and pants
  •     _______________

Footwear; Assorted Personal Items

  • Hiking Boots or hiking shoes suited to terrain
  • Socks (synthetic or wool) plus spares
  • Gaiters
  • Sandals (for fording, in camp)
  • Camera or helmet cam
  • Extra memory cards
  • Binoculars
  • Permits
  • Route description or guidebook
  • Field guide(s); star identifier
  • Outdoor journal and pen or pencil
  • Credit card; small amount of cash
  • Earplugs and eye shade
  • Toilet paper
  • Sanitation trowel
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Insect repellent
  • Bear spray
  • Toothbrush and/or toiletry kit
  • Biodegradable soap (and shower bag)
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Cell phone / satellite communicator / 2-way radios
  • Personal locator beacon
  • Post-hike snacks, water, towel, clothing change
  • Trip itinerary left with friend and under car seat
  •     _______________
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