How to Pack for a Backpacking Trip
**A few of these links are to items we have received for free. All opinions are 100% our own**
Going on a two- (or longer) day backpacking trip anytime soon? Sweet! Do it! Carrying all your stuff around is amazing and fulfilling and satisfying in so many ways. #notsarcastic
Whether you’ve done this before or not, we hope you’ll read our packing list below. We love hearing thoughts on gear and we love sharing ours. Please comment if you have something to add to the convo!
First, a word on our backpacking style. Before this trip, I had been backpacking (defined as hiking a decent distance along a trail and camping there, then continuing the hike the next day) ONCE. Once, people! Cole the Eagle Scout can run laps around me 😉
I’d been camping and hiking a lot separately, but this whole carry-your-camping-stuff-while-you-hike thing was a bit new to me. My body needed an adjusting period, for sure. Those first few trips were slow. But I’m proud to say that after a dozen or so times of backpacking on this trip, I’m now a complete professional.
Don’t believe me? Good. It’s a lie!
One of the things that always helps this new(ish)bie get out on the trail more eagerly is a plan. A packing list.
Enter the Backpacking Ten Essentials. This is a list I first heard of during a Backpacker Magazine’s Get Out More Tour at an outdoors shop in Kansas City. I like lists, so I sort of grabbed on. It’s an organized way to make me feel very prepared about backpacking trips.
Here is the list of official essentials. I’m working on a song for it… Any suggestions?
2. Sun protection
5. First Aid
10. Emergency shelter
We throw in our own categories of “comfort” and “entertainment” because we’re not ultra-light (or remotely hardcore) hikers.
So, with these categories in mind, here is our typical list for a mid-range temperature multi-day backpacking trip.
1. Map, fancy Garmin watch with altimeter and GPS, backpacking permit (if applicable)
2. Polarized sunglasses, sunscreen, hat
4. Rain jackets, down jackets (as needed), extra base layers (tights, long-sleeved shirts, extra socks)
5. Mini first aid kit (small palm-sized bag with: various bandaids, gauze, tape, elastic bandage, sanitizer, multi-use salve, bug spray, toilet paper, pain medicine, allergy medicine, antacids, rubber glove, tweezers, alcohol wipes)
6. Fire: waterproof matches, lighter, Cole’s mad Survivor-worthy fire building skillz (you out there Jeff Probst?!)
7. Repair & tools: survival knife, multi tool, patch kit for sleeping pads, rope, caribeaners
8. Nutrition: light weight nutrient-rich food like jerky, dried fruit, and nuts. Sometimes heavy nutritionless food like Tootsie Roll pops. If we’re staying more than one night, we throw in our compact cook set with a stove, pot, fuel, two bowls, and two sporks for better freeze-dried hot meals like Ramen. Plus hot tea in the morning is always a good thing.
9. Per person: 2-liter hydration bladder and extra water bottle, plus two ways to purify: Sawyer water filter and always emergency iodine tablets.
10. Sturdy trash bag and reflective emergency blanket
**Basics: tent, sleeping pads, sleeping bags, mini pillows, cash & credit card, photo IDs
**Bonus: phones for pictures and videos, portable battery & phone cord, possibly selfie stick, charged Kindle with loaded books, fitness tracker for bragging that you hit 38,000 steps (totally happened and I tell everyone!) deck of cards or dice, sandals (taking boots off at night is amaaaaazing), lots of discussion topics, high spirits because it might rain the whole time, and whatever else feels worth it.
The important thing is to go! Backpacking may seem very unglamorous, and that’s because it is. It’s raw and rough and when you’re done, little comforts like sitting in a cushioned seat or taking a shower feel like heaven.
But what if everyone appreciated those things at the level of a post-trip backpacker? Life would just be people hugging their ice waters and getting giddy when first driving again.
That, my friends, would be a pretty spectacular world.
Backpacking rules. Take a screen shot of our packing list, find a route and hit the trail. Why not?