The 10 Backpacking Essentials: PDF Checklist

Updated on April 25th, 2021
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Photo by Kaylin Brown

backpacking essentials pdf checklist and packlist

Understanding what you need (and don't need!) to pack is very important. Here is a checklist of the backpacking essentials for a weekend trip or an extended long-distance thru-hike. 

We cut the fluff and kept it light. Again, these are only the essentials required for your backpacking trip. Please consider adding extra gear depending on weather and terrain conditions.

Open the Google Doc for a one-page printable PDF version.


1. Kitchen

2. Food and Water

Cup (~750ml) Food (~2 lbs per day) 31 Food Ideas
Spork Water (carry 1L minimum at all times)
Stove Bottle (1L for Clean Water)
Fuel (Propane or Alcohol) Bottle (1L for Dirty Water)
Lighter or Waterproof Matches Filter or Purification Drops
Hand Sanitizer or Soap (optional) Stuff Sack (~10L capacity)

3. Backpack

4. Light

Pack (~40-65L capacity) Headlamp or Flashlight
Pack Liner or Pack Cover (optional) Extra Batteries

5. Sleep System

6. Toiletries

Pillow (inflatable) or Lined Stuff Sack Toothbrush
Sleeping Bag Toothpaste
Sleeping Pad Toilet Paper
(optional) Sleeping Bag Liner Medicine/ Pain Reliever

7. Shelter

8. Extra

Tent Band Aids or Duct Tape
Fly/ Rain Tarp Map or Navigation
Poles Watch
Stakes Knife
(optional) Guylines Bugspray
(optional) Footprint/ Ground Cloth Phone/ Camera

9. Clothes

10. (Optional Extras)

Top Layers Towel
Bottom Layers Trekking Poles
Underwear Gaiters
Socks Ear Plugs
Rain Shell Sunscreen
Headwear/ Bandana Sunglasses
Trail Runners or Boots
Camp Shoes
Chris Cage photo

About Chris Cage

By Chris Cage Chris launched Greenbelly Meals in 2014 after thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail for 6 months. Since then, Greenbelly has been written up by everyone from Backpacker Magazine to Fast Company. He wrote How to Hike the Appalachian Trail and currently works from his laptop all over the globe. Instagram: @chrisrcage.
Stoveless Backpacking Meals
  • 650-Calorie Fuel
  • No Cooking
  • No Cleaning