Backpacking Checklist: Essential Gear for the Backcountry

Gear Recommendations

Using the Ten Essentials as a starting point, we handpicked the best backpacking gear for each category based on our team’s decades of combined testing and research, plus other items to ensure you have everything you need to get out and adventure safely.

Pack for Your Trip

Before diving in, it’s important to remember that while the Ten Essentials and this checklist as a whole offer a great framework—they are just that, a framework. Use your best judgment to decide what you’ll need and what you don’t according to the trip that you’re taking. Hike your own hike, as the thru-hiking maxim goes, and tweak the packing list to suit your specific needs and the needs of your trip so it aligns with things like weather, climate, distance, and location, among others.

Lightweight Backpacking vs Ultralight Backpacking

Although this packing list looks long, these are just the basics for a light load that doesn’t sacrifice comfort, preparedness, and safety. However, lightweight backpacking doesn’t necessarily mean ultralight backpacking; if that’s something that’s important to you, go for ultralight gear to shave off every ounce possible.

Leave No Trace

Finally, remember to always tread lightly and follow the seven principles of Leave No Trace to do your part in respecting and maintaining the good condition of these trails and wild places. Don’t worry, we’ve included gear to help you do that too.

Now that we’re on the same page, the following gear list represents a few of the finer options from well-regarded brands, suitable for most any backpacking trip or outdoor adventure. Read on, click around, then log off and get out there.