Backpacking Checklists

sunset in a hammock
A checklist is a great way to ensure that you have everything that you need for your trip. I tend to be pretty organized, but it’s always nice to have something to check up on before you leave. Here are some checklists that you can use for your next backpacking trip!

Basic Checklist

The Ten Essentials!

  1. Compass
  2. Waterproof maps
  3. GPS
  4. Sunglasses
  5. Sunscreen
  6. Synthetic clothing (short or long sleeved shirt and shorts or pants)
  7. Insulating clothing (fleece/down/softshell jacket)
  8. Gloves
  9. Insulating hat/hat with a visor
  10. Sleeping bag
  11. Sleeping pad
  12. Headlamp
  13. First aid kit
  14. Firestarting (fire starters, match, lighters, kindling)
  15. Multi-tool
  16. Knife
  17. Duct tape
  18. Food!
  19. Water bottles
  20. Filtration system (bring backup filtration method)
  21. Shelter (some sort of shelter option, my favorite is my Doublenest with a tarp)
  22. Backpack/Daypack (with pack cover)
  23. Trekking poles (these make hiking a lot less worse on your knees)
  24. Stove/Fuel
  25. Utensils/Cookset
  26. Bear canister/bear bag
  27. ~50 ft. of paracord
  28. Boot/shoes
  29. Socks
  30. Some sort of a camera (phones work great for this)
  31. Biodegradable toilet paper/wipes
  32. Hand sanitizer
  33. Insect repellent (headnet)
  34. Toiletries (remember not to sleep with them, it brings curious animals)


Winter Checklist

During the winter time your needs will usually change based on the variation of climate that you have. Here are some changes or additional things that you might need to bring in the winter.

  1. A 4-season tent or an encompassing tarp
  2. Pad with a high r-value
  3. Sleeping bag or topquilt/underquilt (getting one that is rated about 10-15 degrees lower than temperature is a good call)
  4. Wool or synthetic underwear
  5. Warm base layer
  6. Insulating layer (fleece, softshell, or down)
  7. Insulated/waterproof pants
  8. Outer waterproof layer (hardshell)
  9. Gloves
  10. Warm hat/balaclava


Because of the very diverse nature of backpacking, there are a lot of options of things to bring on a trip, and people will tell you very different things based on where you are. Before you leave for the backcountry, be sure to get your own personal list with someone who is knowledgeable about backpacking and can help you narrow down what and what not to bring. I also like to always take a picture of all of my items before they go into my pack, just so I can have an understanding of what I took on every trip. This is a great way to keep track of how your pack changes over time. Finally, remember to keep adjusting your list! Altering and adjusting your checklist is an important and fun part of the experience that can only be done by trying out different setups!


By Samarth Vasisht

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