The Handy Dandy Backpacking Checklist
Got backpacking on the mind? Know what you'll need to pack? Don't worry. We've got the perfect checklist for all your gear.


Previously, our friend Tyler covered hiking essentials and made a fun, slightly serious list of what he brings on the trail when he’s setting out for a day hike. But backpacking is a different kind of beast: you’re lugging a lot more gear over more than just 6 or less hours, weather and trail conditions permitting

The F.I.N.I.S.H.E.R.S. List

Setting out for a trail, it’s a pretty safe assumption to say that you plan on finishing it. It’s our hope you pack the same way you think, that’s why we suggest you pack like the F.I.N.I.S.H.E.R.S.

(The following items are not in order of an importance).

Fire
Insulation (aka Warmth)
  • Garments (jacket, pants, gloves, hats, socks)
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
Navigation
Illumination
Sun Protection
Hydration
Emergency Supplies
Repair kit and tools
Sustenance
  • 2-3 meals per day
  • Extra day’s worth of food
This is the initial backpacking checklist. As long as you have an item in your pack that fits under each of these categories, you’ll be prepared for whatever the trail decides to throw at you.

 

Putting the F.I.N.I.S.H.E.R.S. Approach Into Practice
what to pack when backpacking

Depending on a number of days you’ll be out on the trail, you’ll always want to pack accordingly. Like the picture above, lay out all the gear you plan on bringing before packing.

For a 1-day backpacking checklist, we recommend packing the following essentials based on what we just learned from how the F.I.N.I.S.H.E.R.S. pack it:

x1 Backpack

x1 Tent

x1 Knife/multi-tool

x1 Duct tape strips

x1 Stove

x1 Fuel canister

x1 Stowaway pot

x1 Set of plastic utensils (fork, knife, spoon

x1 Lighter/Matches

x1 Fire starter

x1 Map

x1 Sleeping Bag

x1 Sleeping Pad

x1 Shirt

x1 Jacket

x1 Pants

x2 Pairs of socks

x1 Pair of gloves

x2 Pairs of underwear

x1 Beanie

x1 Hat

x1 Sunglasses

x1 Friend back home who knows where you’re going

x1 Headlamp

x1 Set of back-up batteries

x1 Osprey reservoir

x1 Water filter (life straw or gravity filter)

x2 Chlorine water tablet

x1 Pair of Hiking boots

x2 Meals

x2 Snacks

x1 Emergency meal

x1 Sunscreen

x1 Toothbrush

x1 Toothpaste

x4 Sheets of toilet paper

x1 Shovel/Something to dig a hole for bathroom purposes

x1 Trash bag

x1 Backup water bladder (filled) in the car

 

 

(Printable version goes here)

 

And now we’ll do a 3-day backpacking checklist, still following the F.I.N.I.S.H.E.R.S. rule of packing:

 

 

x1 Backpack

x1 Tent

x1 Knife/multi-tool

x1 Duct tape strips

x1 Lighter/Matches

x3 Fire starter

x1 Map

x1 Sleeping Bag

x1 Sleeping Pad

x2 Shirt

x1 Jacket

x1 Pants

x4 Pairs of socks

x1 Pair of gloves

x4 Pairs of underwear

x1 Beanie

x1 Hat

x1 Sunglasses

x1 Friend back home who knows where you’re going

x1 Headlamp

x1 Set of back-up batteries

x1 Osprey reservoir

x1 Water filter (life straw or gravity filter)

x6 Chlorine water tablet

x1 Pair of Hiking boots

x6 Meals

x6 Snacks

x2 Emergency meal

x1 Sunscreen

x1 Toothbrush

x1 Toothpaste

x12 Sheets of toilet paper

the car

x1 Shovel/something to dig a hole for bathroom purposes

x1 Trash bag

x1 Backup water bladder (filled) in the car

(Printable version goes here)

As you can see, most of the items stay the same with only the amount changing. Feel free to distribute some of these items between your group: one person carry the tent while another packs the water filter and trash

Depending on the weather, though, you might not have to bring some of the items on the list above. Here’s the difference in how we pack for cold weather vs. warm weather destinations:

Warm Weather Clothing and Footwear
backpacking in summer
  • Wicking T-shirt
  • Wicking underwear
  • Convertible pants
  • Long-sleeve shirt (protection from bugs and
  • Sun hat
  • Bandana
  • GORE-TEX®SURROUND Footwear
  • _____________ *
Cool Weather Clothing and Footwear
backpacking in winter
  • Long sleeve wicking shirt
  • Wicking long underwear (you want to sleep in)
  • Down, fleece or synthetic jacket
  • Rainwear (waterproof jacket, pants, and gloves)
  • Wool socks
  • Beanie
  • GORE-TEX Performance Comfort Footwear
  • _____________ *
* Spaces left blank intentionally for you to add based on needs

Feel like you’re good on the checklist, but want to learn more about the actually backpacking part? We got you covered with Backpacking for Beginners (coming soon!), written by yours truly!

What would you add to this list or change? Let us know in the comments! And as always, stay safe