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)

Underwear, synthetic

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

Hiking boots

Mud Gaiters (optional)

Brimmed Hat, baseball cap, sombrero, etc.

Overnight Personal Essentials


Sleeping bag

Insulation pad

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)

Personal ID

Whistle (for calling for help)




Cell phone

Small daypack

Dry clothes for the car

Water bottle for the car

Seat Pad


Bandana or Pack Towel

Lip balm

Group Gear (often supplied and carried by all members of the group)


First Aid Kit(s)

Paper Maps


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