Skip to Content

Backpacking Checklist

Backpacking Checklist

backpacking checklist

Backpacking Checklist Overview

Packing an overnight backpack can be a daunting task for anyone trying to make sure that their camping trip goes off without a hitch. To try and help combat this, we decided to make a general checklist of things we include in our packs for an overnight trip.

When packing for overnight trips, you want to have the right gear so even though this guide will fit most trips’ needs, make sure you also factor in the weather, terrain, and amount of people you’re going with and adjust as needed.

For example, if you’re overnight camping in the desert, you’ll probably want to leave the hammock at some since trees are scarce. Conversely, if you’re camping at a place with trees all around you, try leaving the tent at home to save weight and really experience sleeping under the stars.

Backpacking Gear

When overnight backpacking, it’s recommended you bring a 40 to 50-liter backpack for 1 – 3 nights of camping. A 50 – 70-liter backpack is needed for 3 – 5 nights of camping. 

Here are a few of the bare necessity items you should take on your overnight backpacking trip:

  • Backpack
  • Day Pack
  • Headlamp with batteries
  • Hiking Poles

Food and Water

Speaking from personal experiences, packing the perfect amount of water and food can be difficult due to the numerous factors that can play out during a hike.

Anytime I go hiking, I tend to take a liter to a liter and a half of water for every two hours I’m going to spend outside.

Depending on where you’re camping, life straws and water purification tabs can help reduce the amount of water you need to carry in.

For food, I usually plan to have two dehydrated meals with snacks like jerky and trail mix to fill in the rest of the day.

Below are examples of what you have to bring as well as what you could bring depending on where you’re heading:

Essential items:

  • Snacks and Energy Foods
  • Lighter and Matches
  • Food – Freeze Dried or Dehydrated
  • Water for the hike in
  • Water Tabs
  • Water Filtration System

Things you may want to consider bringing:

  • Electrolyte, powder
  • Fishline
  • Life Straw
  • Propane
  • Utensils
  • 5 – Gallon Water Container
  • Animal Bag
  • Camping Stove
  • Dishes

Campsite Gear

If you’re camping in a group, you can very easily share a stove or bear bag to help reduce the weight as well as your footprint on the trail.

A backpacking chair isn’t vital if weight starts becoming a concern but if you can spare some room, they’re pretty nice to bring.

As far as tents go, you typically only want a tent that weighs at most, 4 pounds which is why I prefer hammocks in most cases.

Here are examples of sleeping and relaxing arrangements you can bring on your next trip. Do keep in mind that you should pay attention to where you’re going so that you don’t pack unnecessary weight:

  • Backpacking Chair
  • Footprint
  • Hammock
  • Pillow
  • Rain Fly
  • Sleeping Bag or Quilt
  • Sleeping Pad
  • Tent

Clothing and Footwear

This is another part where people, myself included, tend to overpack. You pack thinking you’ll change every day but in reality, you change maybe twice depending on how hard you went the days before or if there was water for you to jump in.

Here are some things you should consider bringing to help protect your body while backpacking:

  • Bandana or some sort of lightweight sun cover
  • Hiking Boots
  • Extra Socks
  • Flip Flops
  • Jacket
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Sunglasses

Be sure to check the weather before heading out that way you don’t end up in freezing temperatures without a thick jacket. Flip flops are included as a relief shoe for after a long day of hiking and not as a shoe you should be hiking in.

Navigation Items

backpacking checklist
  • Compass
  • GPS
  • Map
  • Satellite Communicator

Repair and Safety Items

  • Bear Spray
  • Bug Repellant
  • Cooling Towel
  • Duck Tape
  • Emergency Card
  • First Aid
  • Lip Balm
  • Mole Skin
  • Multitool
  • Poison Ivy / Oak Preventative
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunbrella
  • Whistle

Personal Items

As you can tell, this one mainly comes down to you and what you personally need to make it through the trip. For some, that could mean medication and for others, a daily dose of Redbull.

  • Any other personal hygiene products
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • ID and Cash
  • Personal medications
  • Toilet paper or wipes
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Wag Bags


This list falls under the nice to have, but you don’t necessarily need to have things.

If weight and space allow for it, having something like a 5-gallon water sack could be useful for mass water purification or just to reduce trips to the river if the water is naturally drinkable.

  • Camera Gear
  • Carabiners
  • Cards or other lightweight games
  • Charging Banks
  • Extra Batteries
  • Solar Chargers
  • Permits

Backpacking Checklist