A Backpacker’s Checklist

First Time Backpacking?

Get the right gear. Buy new, borrow from a friend, rent—whatever it may be. Gear is extremely important when backpacking. There are many brands out there, but popular brands don’t always correlate to practical backpacking gear. Keep in mind that weather changes quickly in the mountains. You need to be prepared. Make sure to pick up some long underwear, removable hiking layers, cold weather insulation, and an outer shell that is rain-proof. Don’t forget proper footwear.

Choose somewhere easy. Test yourself. When you first drove a car or rode a bike you didn’t dive right into a strenuous trip. Your first time backpacking should be the same. Start with a day hike then graduate to an overnight trip when you feel ready. It’s always best practice travel in pairs before attempting a solo mission. And always, always, always tell someone where you are going and when you are expected to return.


Plan your food. You cannot expect to go on a backpacking trip with only a plastic water bottle and a granola bar. Prepare your food beforehand or at least plan and pack prior to your trip. We carry a variety of Mountain House packages meals that pair perfectly with the Camp Chef Stryker Stove series.

Packing Light

Packing light is the name of the game. You will often hear other backpackers referring to common camping items in ounces. Everything is meticulously planned. The way you pack can make or break your backpacking experience. It is best practice to only packing about 20% of your body weight. If you weigh 200 lbs., plan on packing only about 40 lbs. of gear. Much of the weight will be attributed to water.

But, Only The Necessities

Yes, while packing light is essential. You need to first focus on the necessities. For overnight adventures, at a minimum you need: a backpack, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, single burner stove, water treatment, a first aid kit, fire, cooking supplies (including food and water.)

For a day hike, you can leave the tent and sleeping pad. However, we recommend packing some sort of emergency shelter should something not go as planned. Sunscreen is also very important.



Follow along on this checklist for a better look in our backpacker’s backpacks. Of course, even after your first trip you’ll come to know your personal necessities. This will allow you to better pack for your next trip.

Rain cover
Sleeping bag
Sleeping pad
Sun screen
Lip protection
Bug spray
Meals & Snacks
Stove & Bottled fuel
Utensils (pots, pans, spork, knife/multi-tool set)
Hiking boots/shoes
Long underwear
Long sleeved shirt & Short-sleeved shirt
Insulated jacket & Rain-proof jacket
Cellphone (with waterproof case) & Battery charger
Fire starter
First aid kit
Toilet paper
Hand sanitizer
Tooth brush and tooth paste (biodegradable)
Field guide
Notebook & Pen
Feminine hygiene products