In the past few months, I’ve shared what I carry on my overnight trips, however, I have a finely tuned system that works for me. Not everyone can get away with what I bring and leave behind. I highly recommend that every backpacker have their own checklist for what to bring. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve left something behind or been on a trip where someone was missing something small but crucial (i.e. a spoon to eat with).
My list has evolved as I’ve learned and forgotten things. What more than that, my list has helped me understand and make better choices about what I’m brining in the woods with me. I have individual weights on all my items, and am able to re-arrange my pack and get a good estimate of it’s weight before I even pack it.
To help you get started on making your own backpacking checklist, I’ve included a generic checklist below. This has been modified from the list I used when I taught a college backpacking class. It’s been updated with more modern technological advances and to better match more generic use. And yes, you can actually check the items off on this page as you pack them! Or print this page and check them off by hand.
Clothes (Do NOT bring cotton stuff except to change into for ride home)
Primary Wicking Layer
Wool socks (2 pairs)
Long underwear top and bottom (polypropylene, capilene, silk, wool)
Liner gloves (optional)
Secondary Insulating Layer (wool, fleece, etc.)
Sweater, wool or fleece (1 warm jacket or two layered jackets)
Outer Protective Layer
Raincoat and rain pants or poncho
Mud Gaiters (optional)
Brimmed Hat, baseball cap, sombrero, etc.
Overnight Personal Essentials
Flashlight (headlamp preferred, bring extra batteries)
2 one-liter water bottles
Plastic bags or stuff sacks for clothes, sleeping bag, etc.
Pack cover or large heavy duty plastic garbage bag
Bowl/mug and spoon (preferably not metal)
Toilet articles (do not bring deodorant, perfume, soap, etc.)
Toilet paper, and bags for packing out toilet paper
Pocket tool or knife (for fixing things)
Whistle (for calling for help)
Dry clothes for the car
Water bottle for the car
Bandana or Pack Towel
Group Gear (often supplied and carried by all members of the group)
GPS and/or GPS Communicator (optional)
Matches or lighter in a waterproof case
Stove (2 if going with a larger group)
Large Pot with lid (1 per stove)
Frying Pan, if needed, best if also lid for pot (1 per stove)
Extra Optional Gear
Candles for snow shelter, kitchen, and group areas