2 people standing next to each other with backpacks

Backpacking Essentials: A Complete Checklist to go Ultralight

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Are you wondering what you need to bring for a long-distance thru hike?

Backpacking for extended periods of time takes careful preparation and planning. Whether you’re taking a 10 day trip along the Wonderland Trail or tackling a leg of the Triple Crown. It’s important to understand what you need and what you don’t need, rather than trying to figure it out as you go.

A backpacking checklist will evolve over time. The things on the list are going to change with the time of year, and may not apply to each and every trip. Having a backpacking checklist is going to save you time and money, and help you avoid over packing.

Every hiking and backpacking trip is going to involve packing appropriately for the anticipated conditions. So read up on where you’re going and what the weather is to be expected and pack accordingly.  ​​​​

This list is made to be as light as possible and has been used by thru hikers on the both the Appalachian and Pacific Crest trails, tried and true.

1. Kitchen

  • 750 ml cup
  • Spork
  • Lighter
  • Waterproof matches
  • Stove
  • Fuel

2. Food and Water

  • Food – 2 pounds a day
  • Water – 1 liter
  • 2 water bottles – 1 liter
  • Coffee
  • Water filter
  • Stuff sack

3. Backpack

  • 40-65 liter
  • Pack liner

4. Light

  • Headlamp
  • Batteries

5. Toiletries

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Toilet Paper
  • Medicine

6. Bedding

  • Pillow – stuff sack
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping liner
  • Sleeping pad

7. Clothing

  • Base layer
  • Middle layer
  • Shell layer
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Headwear

8. Shelter

  • Tent
  • Tent poles
  • Rainfly
  • Stakes
  • Guylines
  • Footprint

9. Essentials

  • Band aid
  • Navigation
  • Watch
  • Bugspray
  • Knife
  • Pain reliever

10. Extras

  • Towel
  • Gaiters
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Trekking poles
  • Camera

11. Shoes

  • Runner or hiking boots
  • Camp kicks

Grab the PDF Here

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