Backpacking Checklist

Tips for Making a Backpacking Checklist

If you are new to backpacking, you will want to make a backpacking checklist to be sure you do not forget any essential items when you leave for your big trip. Planning for your first backpacking adventure can be a bit confusing and stressful because there are so many aspects of your trip that you need to consider in order to properly pack. The season, length of time of your trip, terrain, and lodging accommodations should all be kept in mind as you develop your backpacking checklist.

Basic Items

Your backpacking checklist should begin with the basic pieces of gear that are required to safely and comfortably go on your trip. The backpack itself should be big enough to accommodate all of your supplies as well as be a comfortable fit. Always remember that a backpack rain cover is needed with most styles of backpacks to prevent the contents from being should it rain. A day pack should be purchased in addition to your full size pack for short trips away from camp that do not require packing all of your gear.

Your tent, poles and groundsheet should all be inspected prior to packing. One of the worst things that can happen is for you to arrive at your destination and realize you are missing a vital piece of the tent construction. Your backpacking checklist should also include your sleeping bag and sleeping pad as well.

Essential Items

Extra food, water and clothing are a must, as you never know what may happen to slow down your plans. It is best to always prepare for two to three days more than what is actually needed for your trip. If you are not familiar with the area you will be hiking in, a map and compass are must have items for your backpacking checklist. You will also need a flashlight, extra batteries and a pocketknife.

If you plan to be cooking on a campfire, do not forget your fire making kit. This should include several lighters and matches as a bare minimum, and these items should be stored in a watertight container.

First aid items should be a priority on your backpacking checklist. A basic first aid kid, sunscreen, lip balm, insect repellant and any personal hygiene items should be listed. Depending on the area you are traveling to, a lack of clean drinking water may be an issue you have to overcome. Portable water purification systems for just this purpose can be purchased at most camping supply stores.

Cooking Items

You will need to gather a few basic supplies for preparing your meals. A camping stove, fuel, can opener, mess kit, wide mouth water containers, small pot and pan, a mug, spatula and large spoon and supplies to clean your dishes are the minimum requirements for outdoor cooking.
Repair Kit

Few people make it through a backpacking adventure without some necessary item breaking. Because you will not have access to a store to purchase repair supplies, some basic items should be included on your backpacking checklist.


Duct tape is a must have item, as it can be used to repair just about anything you have with you on your trip. A needle and thread will also be useful for repairing torn gear. A small length of wire, tent repair kit, nylon cord and backup batteries are additional items for your backpacking checklist that will help you be prepared in an emergency.

Commonly Forgotten Items

Some of the most common items get left behind, so as you go about your days before the trip pay attention to the little items you take for granted but could not handle doing with out. Some examples are toilet paper, trash bags, biodegradable soap and a watch.