Backpacking Checklist

Hi Friends,

I don’t want to tell you how many time I have been out on the trail and wished I had made and followed a backpacking checklist. So, why are checklists important.  Well, we today have developed a Walmart mentality.  If  you forget smething today that’s OK, we’ll be going by the Walmart tomorrow.

Well, it aint like that out on wilderness trail. Yes, some trails do come very close to towns and you could be able to replace or buy what you forgot. But, backpacking solo to me is a challenge with my self suffieciency.  I like backpacking because I once again can go out and survive on my own by own planning and resources.

The REI store is my favorite outdoor supplier. And, I copied their check list of 10 Essential for a basic overnigh backpack trip. I need and use checklists all of the time now before I go out.  At 74 it’s almost a necessity. Keep in mind that all of these items are not necessary for a safe trip but you should at least consider them.

The Ten Essentials

(for safety, survival and basic comfort)

1. Navigation

  • Map (with protective case)
  • Compass
  • GPS (optional)

2. Sun protection

  • Sunscreen and lip balm
  • Sunglasses

3. Insulation

  • Jacket, vest, pants, gloves, hat (see Clothing)

4. Illumination

  • Headlamp or flashlight  (plus spare)
  • Extra batteries

5. First-aid supplies

6. Fire

  • Matches or lighter
  • Waterproof container
  • Fire starter (for emergency survival fire)

7. Repair kit and tools

  • Knife or multi-tool
  • Kits for stove, mattress; duct tape strips

8. Nutrition

  • Extra day’s supply of food

9. Hydration

  • Water bottles or hydration system
  • Water filter or other treatment system

10.    Emergency shelter

  • Tent, tarp, bivy or reflective blanket

Beyond the Ten Essentials

  • Backpack
  • Daypack or summit pack
  • Pack cover
  • Tent, tarp or bivy sack (with stakes, guylines)
  • Tent-pole repair sleeve
  • Footprint (if needed for tent)
  • Sleeping bag
  • Stuff sack or compression sack
  • Sleeping pad
  • Pillow or stuffable pillow case
  • Whistle (plus signaling mirror)
  • Multifunction watch with altimeter
  • Trekking poles
  • Ice axe
  • Meals
  • Energy food (bars, gels, chews, trail mix)
  • Energy beverages or drink mixes
  • Stove
  • Fuel
  • Cookset (with pot grabber)
  • Dishes or bowls
  • Utensils
  • Cups (measuring cups)
  • Food-storage canister (or hang bags)
  • Nylon cord (50 feet for hanging food)
  • Backup water treatment (e.g., halogens)
  • Collapsible sink or container
  • Packable lantern

Clothing options:  Warm weather

  • Wicking T-shirt (synthetic or wool)
  • Wicking underwear
  • Quick-drying pants or shorts
  • Long-sleeve shirt (for sun, bugs)
  • Sun-shielding hat
  • Bandana or Buff

Cool weather (insulation in Ten Essentials)

  • Wicking long-sleeve T-shirt
  • Wicking long underwear (good sleepwear)
  • Hat, cap, skullcap, balaclava or headband
  • Gloves or mittens
  • Rainwear (jacket, pants)
  • Fleece jacket or vest, and pants

Footwear; assorted personal items

  • Boots or shoes suited to terrain
  • Socks (synthetic or wool) plus spares
  • Gaiters
  • Sandals (for fording, in camp)
  • Camera and memory cards
  • Binoculars
  • Permits
  • Route description or guidebook
  • Field guide(s); star identifier
  • Notebook and pen or pencil
  • Credit card; small amount of cash
  • Music player with headphones
  • Toilet paper
  • _______________
  • Sanitation trowel
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Insect repellant
  • Headnet
  • Toothbrush and/or toiletry kit
  • Biodegradable soap (and shower bag)
  • Biodegradable soap
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Two-way radios
  • Cell or satellite phone
  • Post-hike snacks, water, towel, clothing change
  • Trip itinerary left w/ friend + under car seat

By REI staff


    Next time I’ll make up my own checklist that I use for a 2 – 3  overnight backpack trip.

    Happy trails,


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    About Larry

    Larry Pitts is a lifetime backpacker. I started a 12 as a boy scout, rambled around Alaska for a couple of years in the mid 50's and have continued to enjoy this great outdoor activity until my mid 70's. I particularly like to go backpacking solo, and in the late fall to winter when the two legged animals are all safely at home. What self reliance solo backpacking brings.

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