Backpacking Checklist – Is It Essential To Have One

Doug Williams
Photo credit: Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason
Photo credit: Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason

Whether you’re a beginner or a more experienced backpacker, the worst thing that can happen is that you forget an item or two that you really need.  Here is a list of items that are essential for any backpacking adventure in the wilderness.  Before you even start to pack, think about where you are going.  Research and plan your trip in detail.  Remember that in weather extremes, like a desert or a snowy mountain, you will need extra items suited specifically to those environments.  I have created these lists so you can print the article and check things off as you pack them.


This is essential to protect you from the elements.  Pack an extra tarp to cover anything left outside your tent to keep it contained and dry.  If you are going somewhere where rain is likely, take a tent that is more suited for this.  A sleeping pad is essential to protect you and your sleeping bag from the damp and cold rising up from the ground.

Tent or tarp                        Tent poles, stakes, and guy lines

Ground cloth or tarp       Sleeping bag

Sleeping pad                      Mosquito netting

Camp pillow                       Camp spade



Pack carefully and consider the weather that may be coming up. Extra socks are always a good idea.

Hiking boots                       Sandals (to cross streams)

Pants and shorts              Thermal tops and bottoms

Socks                                     Fleece jacket and pants

Hat and gloves                  Lightweight wind jacket

Raincoat                               Cotton shirts


Camp food is delicious, but make sure if you need to cook food you have investigated the regulations.  Some places have fire bans in summer.  So if you can cook, here is a list of possible items to include.

Stove and fuel for it                        Utensils, plates, and bowls

Lighter or matches                          Bear canister or hang bags for food storage

Knife                                                     Water purification tablets

Dehydrated food                             Tinned food or other easy, fast-cooking food
Pots and pans                                    Dishwashing liquid and tea towels

Water storage containers             Energy bars and drink mixes

First Aid Supplies

Always have your first aid supplies packed at the top of your backpack, so they’re easily reached.  You don’t need too many items, just the basics to cover you for the cuts, grazes, and stings that may occur.  Also, include sunscreen and personal comfort items.

Cell phone                                          Emergency blanket

Whistle                                                 Duct tape and rope

Sunscreen and lip balms                 Insect repellents

Hat and sunglasses                          Toilet paper

Flashlight and batteries                 Personal hygiene items

First aid kit – check that it includes band-aids, insect and sting cream, blister cream, gauze bandages, tweezers, wound pads, a large rubbish bag

Extra medications for asthma, allergies, and any other medical conditions your group has.


Know your route, mark it on the map, and, if you know how to use one, carry a compass.  Make note of prominent landmarks as you travel, and stay on the marked trails.  Take a GPS tracking device – they weigh very little and will help others find you if anything does happen.

Once you have packed the essentials and you find you have room left, you can add whatever else you might want.  Remember that if you carry it in you must carry it out.  Now you have everything you need to explore with confidence.


fmssolution is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival