|I. Pack and Storage|
|II. Sleep System|
|V. Staying Healthy|
|VII. Safety and Survival|
|VIII. Extra and Luxury Items|
Pack and Go! (and download)
Who doesn’t like checklists when packing? Unless you have a super memory, going without a list might leave you on top of a high plateau with no camp stove (ahem…totally not speaking from experience).
Still, I have a disclaimer to make. Like any backpacking tips, take them with a grain of salt as one person’s necessity is another’s luxury.
The biggest difference in choice is going to be determined by climate and the weather or season. If you are hiking in Florida in the summer, you probably don’t need gloves and a puffy jacket (unless you want a sauna too).
I’ve compiled this list of hiking items based on our travels in the British Columbia Mountains, where it can jump from snow to blistering heat in a matter of hours.
Of course, we might have left out some of your favourites, so that there will be some extra spaces for you.
Once you’ve checked out the items, feel free to download the checklist pdf as many times as you want to! (you can find it at the end of this article)
Regardless of where you are going, we wish you an amazing hiking trip!
- Hiking backpack
- Rain cover or waterproof pack liner
- Ziplocs – useful for packing out garbage
- Dry sacs – for storing and keeping safe your electronics, maps, clothes, food, etc.
- Garbage bag – use them to separate wet gear
My PACK Favorite:
- Backpack: The Osprey Volt 60 offers the perfect balance between comfort, durability, and weight, but where it really won me over was the numerous (and functional) exterior pockets.
- Sleeping bag/quilt
- Sleeping Pad
- Shelter: tent, hammock, or tarp shelter
- Backpacking pillow
WEIGHT SAVING TIP
Make a pillow out of clothes stuffed into a soft bag.
My SLEEP SYSTEM Favorites:
- Tent: The Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 is l just as light as you’ll get for a free standing two person-person, two-door, two-vestibule tent. Well, that is if you don’t fancy forking over the dough to go platinum.
- Hammock: For solo trips, I love Hennessy’s Ultralight Backpacker Classic Hammock. This thing has seen 10 seasons and many, many miles. It has never failed to keep me dry, and it sure beats a night on the hard ground.
- Sleeping Pad: I keep it simple with the Them-a-Rest Z-Light closed foam pad.
- Extra Ziploc Bags – useful for packing out garbage — Always remember to bring some along with you
- Dinners – for the X no. of nights spent on the trail
- Breakfasts – for the X no. of mornings spent on the trail
- Lunches – for the X no. of days spent on the trail
- Calorie dense snacks
- Coffee/Tea/Hot drinks
Emergency food to last one day - very important one
- Rope – use it to hang food bags and bear-proof containers
WEIGHT SAVING TIPS
If you are going solo, you can use the same container for cooking, eating, and drinking.
- Invest in a food dehydrator and make tasty, healthy, and lightweight meals and snacks before your trip.
My EATING Favorites:
Bear Bag: The Ursack is made of a lightweight Keval-like material. I made the switch for alpine trips where there are no trees to hang your containers from, and now bring it on every trip.
Stove: The Optimus Crux has been my staple since 2006 and I’ve used it without a problem even at 16,000 meters above sea level. Mine is pretty darn light, but newer models are even lighter.
- Water bottles or hydration bladder
- Bring a spare bottle too, in case of bladder leaks
- Water treatment
WEIGHT SAVING TIP
Plan your water fill-up stations ahead of time (and ensure that they are reliable sources) so you don’t need to carry more water than necessary.
My HYDRATION Favorites:
- Filter: The Sawyer Mini is a lightweight filter system that is rated up to 100,000 gallons.
- Bottle: It’s hard to beat a good ol’ fashion Nalgene.
- Useful Tip: Its wide mouth varieties can be handy for waterproof storage too.
- Camp soap
- Important Note: Even biodegradable soap affects the chemistry in lakes and waterways.
- Use sparingly and away from waterbodies.
- Hand sanitizer
- Bug spray
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss (this also makes for a great thread)
- Toilet paper and bags – useful for packing out
- Bathing cloth or buff
- Feminine hygiene products – and think of a way to pack them out
- Knowledge of the Leave No Trace Principles
WEIGHT SAVING TIP
Instead of bringing a scrubby, scrub your pots with dead grass, cattails, or sand.
My SANITATION Favorites:
- Feminine hygiene: The Diva Cup is simply amazing – not just for backpacking, but anytime. Just rinse and reuse.
- Trowel: It might seem silly to spend money on a trowel, but the Deuce of Spades does the job and weighs just 0.6 ounces.
- Puffy or fleece jacket
- Pain pants
- Short sleeved shirt
- Light long sleeved shirt
- 2 pairs of socks
- Athletic underwear
- Socks for sleeping in
- Thermal top for sleeping
- Thermal underwear for sleeping
- Hiking boots/shoes
- Sandals/Camp shoes
- Buff or bandana
- Warm hat
- Sun hat
- Bug hat/Jacket
- Light gloves
WEIGHT SAVING TIPS
It’s okay to be dirty when you’re hiking.
- Don’t bother with spare clothes. If you like clean underwear, rinse and repeat. Bring one pair of extra hiking socks in case one gets wet.
- Actually, the opposite of a weight saver tip – if you aren’t sure about which warm clothes to bring, err on the side of too warm. The extra weight is worth being warm.
My CLOTHING Favorites:
- Meindl Island Boots – They may be heavy, which isn’t exactly the going trend, but they are indestructible and amazing for mountain scrambling and northern bushwacking.
- Survival knife
- Fire kit
- Extra ignition
- First Aid Kit
- Repair kit
- Duct tape
- Needle and thread (or dental floss)
- Emergency Mylar blanket
- Good ol’ fashion paper map and compass
- Phone with mapping app or GPS
- Communication – phone or satellite device
- Extra light source – candles, a mini LED light
- Batteries or power bank – for your devices and headlamp
- Pencil and paper – useful for recording first aid treatments or emergency notes
WEIGHT SAVING TIPS
Keep your phone off or on airplane mode when not in use.
- It can stretch out your phone’s lifetime and mitigate the need for a power bank.
My SAFETY Favorites:
Headlamp: The Black Diamond Spot emits 300 lumens, is waterproof, and comes with a red light for night vision, a strobe for signaling, and a dimmer so you can read without keeping your partner awake. Unlike other feature-rich headlamps I’ve used, the controls on the Spot are simple and easy to use.
Satellite Device: The Spot 3 Satellite GPS Messenger is the most affordable satellite communication device on the market (at least nowadays). It will send preprogrammed one-way messages to your friends and family and has an SOS button that will quickly get the ball rolling in rescue cases.
- Hiking poles
- Folding saw – useful when building fires
- Foam sitting pad
My LUXURY Favorites:
Hiking Poles: Hiking poles are no longer just a luxury for me and if you don’t use any, just try them out. You might never want to go back. My Black Diamon Women’s Trail are light, strong, and suitable for any shortish person.
Camera: The Canon PowerShot G7 Mark II has a DSLR processor without the weight and bulk. It fits well in my pocket and helps me take great shots. I can use it in manual mode, among its many other settings and it also takes HD video and is a popular choice for vloggers.
Tarp: My silicone poncho tarp, similar to this Sea to Summitt Ultra-Sil NanoTarp-Poncho (mine is no longer in production) is always in my pack. It’s great for a small cook shelter or a ground sheet for the tent. It will also cover you and your pack in case of unexpected rain.
All Ready to Pack Now!
So this wraps things up! This is my ultimate list of things that should never from your pack when you’re on the trail and hiking. Finding it hard to follow?
Then download our hiking checklist pdf, check things off the list, and you’re all ready to go!
The great part? You can download it as many times as you want, so new trip, new list, double the excitement (and also hassle-free)! 😉
Carley is a teacher and nature nerd with a passion for helping people get outside. Apart from teaching, she leads nature programs and outdoor trips for people of all ages. Carley also manages her own YouTube channel, The Last Grownup in the Woods. Before becoming a teacher, Carley worked as a fisheries technician and backcountry park ranger.