If you're planning your first backpacking trip, figuring out what to pack may be a bit overwhelming. This backpacker's checklist will help!

The Backpacker’s Checklist: Everything You Need For A Backpacking Trip

If you’re planning your first backpacking trip, figuring out what to pack may be a bit overwhelming. This backpacker’s checklist will help!


Guest Post By Liz Pekler


Backpacking, is a diverse type of traveling covering cities and sometimes, countries with just a backpack. It is seeing new places and experiencing strange things while still finding beauty in it. Usually, backpackers who travel on a budget and long distances must make sure that  they have packed all the things they need.


If you’re backpacking for quite some time now, you may be familiar with what stuff to pack. However, are you sure that what you’ve brought does not just add extra weight in your baggage? Mapping out you’re backpacking route first may help you identify the gear and stuff you need.


If you’re planning on taking on mountain trails, you may want to add some hiking accessories or if you’re planning to go to a humid city, of course, you want to pack the right clothes. These simple considerations may help determine the right gear to pack and may relieve you of travel-hassle.


Here is a backpacker’s checklist with the essential things a backpacker needs for efficient and light backpacking.


Personal Backpacking Essentials

Backpack, hat, trekking shoes, map and compass are part of backpacker's checklist
Backpack, hat, trekking shoes, map and compass


Heavy Duty Backpack

The essence of backpacking will be lost without a heavy duty backpack. An ideal backpack for backpacking trips should be able to carry loads such as bulky, dense, heavy, oversized and long items.


When picking out your backpack for adventure, always consider the size, straps, pockets, material, maximum weight you can carry, and most especially, comfort.  Also, opting for a waterproof heavy duty backpack assures you that rain or shine, you do not have to worry about keeping your belongings safe and dry.


Durable But Light Tent

Tents could probably be the bulkiest thing a backpacker would want to carry. Bringing a tent with you saves you much cash, gives you more option on where to camp and prevents you on forcing a night at an inn. The market today offers a wide variety of tents ranging in size, capacity, and quality.


However, being outside the comfort of your neighborhood, you must pick out the best and most suitable for your backpacking trip. When picking a tent go for one that has a reasonable size when packed and when opened, a complementing price to its functionality, strength and durability, fast pitching time and versatile for all seasons.


Comfortable Sleeping Pad And Bag

Backpacking can take you to unexpected places with freezing temperatures or humid jungles and might force you to sleep in these kinds of environments. You may be secured inside a tent but what about comfort? Are you ready to compromise comfort?


A sleeping bag with an extra layer of mattress may help you get a good night’s sleep with an increase level of warmth, insulation, and comfort. It prevents you from hurting your back from sleeping on a rough and uneven ground. Dimension, inflation, and durability, are some of the aspects you might want to take into consideration when picking out your sleeping pad.


Your sleeping pad should complement your sleeping bag. Since you would be sleeping in it for several nights, the primary aspects to consider are temperature rating to match the weather, type of insulation, and comparing carrying weight and room for your body to rest comfortably. Also consider added features such as zipper compatibility, hood style, etc. to utilize the functionality of your gear.


Maps And Compass

Since walking in unfamiliar terrain and alien environment is not far from happening, there is always a chance that you may get lost once in a while. Packing a handy map and compass can help set direction for your journey and save you time from committing tiring detours.


Use a compass with a map for accurate navigation. Lay your map on a flat surface and put your compass on top. Set a line from your point or origin to your destination. Always make sure that the directions in the map are aligned with your compass.



Headlamps help in illuminating while you’re still out walking, looking for a campsite. Headlamps with built in LED are a good light source for when you are setting up your tent since they are rugged, energy-efficient and long-running.


To choose the perfect headlamp for your backpacking trip, consider the lumens or the amount of light it can produce, beam distance or how distance the lamp can cover, run time, weight, and different brightness levels.


Backpacking Cooking Essentials

Blonde girl pouring a drink to her friend in the woods
Cooking while backpacking


Backpacking Stove And Fuel

If you are planning to go backpacking for quite a while, packing a mini stove and equipping yourself with extra fuel will make you look forward to cold mornings warmed with hot coffee and long nights with “home”-cooked meals. Opt for a stove with a specific type of fuel you’re comfortable to use, inspect its burn time and boil time, and utilize its usage tips for a more hassle-free cooking experience.


Water Bottles And Filter

Packing a water treatment system and a water canteen for your backpacking trip is important to avoid getting infected from infected water sources. You can either bring a water filter or water purifier with you, depends on whichever you are comfortable using. Water filters physically strain biological pathogen content of the water while water purifiers combat microscopic viruses. If you have a stove with you, you can purify water by boiling it for a minimum of 1 min.


Backpacking Clothing And Toiletries Essentials

Three backpackers on a trail
Comfort is important while backpacking


Comfortable And Functional Clothing

A backpacker only needs to pack fundamental pieces of clothing – underwear, shirt, long-sleeve shirt, shorts, pants, rain jacket and puffy jacket – to layer and address specific weather conditions. Dressing up for your backpacking trip should be simple and consider two aspects: functionality and comfort.


Wool, polyester, nylon, silk and cotton are functional clothing material that are easy to dry, sun-protective, antimicrobial and repel insects and other pests. Most active wears are made from this fabric that have functional pockets, hidden zippers, or vents.


Layering clothes can be done through fleece tops, a clothing material flexible as a warmer, puffy jackets, to tone down the freezing temperature, and a water-resistant soft shell jacket that blocks wind and provide warmth.


Hygiene Essentials

Backpacking doesn’t mean that you will forego proper hygiene. While beauty enhancements are not advised, maintaining good and proper hygiene will help you in avoiding bodily infections, too. Walking all day means your skin will be exposed to harsh sunlight and may cause quick burning. Sunscreen is essential in keeping your skin from aging and from harmful UV rays.


For sure, your face will accumulate dirt and dust so keeping a towel handy is important. Bringing your toothbrush, toothpaste, baby wipes, and extra plastic containers will not leave you in the wilderness unaided.


Light Medical Kit

Going for adventures should always have a backup plan – medical kit. Equip your backpack with the minimum supplies that can attend to minor to major wounds and handy medications for headache and stomachache.


Backpacking Camera Essentials

A guy packing his backpacking camera essentials, part of his backpacker's checklist
Take care of your electronics while backpacking



A DSLR captures the best photos with its manual settings. However, bringing it into the wild can post some risk that may damage the camera. It is advised that before setting your foot on the road, ensure your camera’s safety by placing it a shockproof and water-resistant body.


Most backpackers do not only pursue the lifestyle for the thrill of it; they pursue it because it gives them a sense of purpose and new perspective. For those who fall in love with photographing their backpacking adventure, safely pack your DSLR and capture great heights and landscapes.


Action Camera

Unlike the DSLR, action cameras are lightweight. Thus, it does not add weight to your baggage nor burden you with its bulky batteries and cables. It is great for capturing hiking, trekking, underwater sports, and walking perspectives. It has a rugged and waterproof body fit for your unexpected adventures. It also has an advanced and accurate GPS setting with a reasonable battery life.



When it comes to practicality, most will choose to bring their smart phones in their backpacking trip since it can serve more purposes than just taking photos. A smartphone can be helpful in connecting to people in case of emergency and a good device for tracking. Smartphones can take stunning photos with the right exposure and settings turning it into a wise travel gear investment.


Tripod-Monopod Combo

Surprisingly, a lightweight and portable tripod-monopod combo can be used by backpackers to take stunning and one-of-a-kind outdoor photos. This combination is a tripod with removable legs so backpackers can conveniently attach their camera. This tripod-monopod combination enables a backpacker to fully optimize a high quality tripod with a hybrid tripod leg available for various camera angles.


Camera Protection

When you are a backpacker, it is like your camera is vulnerable out in the open. You may not know when the rain chooses to fall or when you will encounter extreme weather condition that might cause damage to your DSLR, action camera or smartphone.


DSLR manufacturers are starting to understand that not all people who purchase their camera shoot indoors. They are now open to the idea that cameras are vulnerable when on an adventure. DSLR’s come with a rain cover that encloses the lens and the camera body. Smartphones are also protected with waterproof smartphone case to ensure that it remains protected despite harsh weather conditions.


Final Thoughts On Having A Backpacker’s Checklist

Picking what to bring on your next backpacking trip may take up most of your time, since factors such as the area, wildlife, and weather of your destination can give you an opportunity to change your list. But once you’ve gathered the essentials together, you won’t have to worry about bringing unnecessary items on your trip or leaving important gear behind. You’ll even get to enjoy your journey without running into any problems or hitches. Hopefully you find this backpacker’s checklist useful.


About The Author: Liz Pekler is a travel blogger with several years of experience in the field. Being a freelance blogger enables her to help travelers and show that even photography beginners and enthusiasts tell wonderful stories of their travels as seen through their lenses. Blogging also allows her to share her thoughts about another advocacy of hers: social equality and change. You can follow her on Linkedin and Twitter.


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If you're planning your first backpacking trip, figuring out what to pack may be a bit overwhelming. This backpacker's checklist will help!


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