If you’re heading out on a first-time backpacking trip, here’s a backpacking packing list to help you out organize your gear. You might add a few things based on personal preference — for example, maybe you like to have a different spoon for stirring the pot other than the spoon you eat with, or you need to pack a pillow — but this is a lightweight list for an overnight trip.

  • Backpack with heavy-gauge trash bag (or rain cover)


  • Shelter (tent, bivy sack, tarp)- Be sure to check out our previous post on selecting the best backpacking tents if you’re in the market for one.
  • Tent Stakes (if applicable)
  • Down Sleeping bag- How warm does it need to be and how much of a concern is weight?
  • a light sleeping pad, like a Therm-a-Rest


  • Stove
  • Pots/cookset
  • Knife
  • Bowl
  • Spoon
  • Cup
  • Stove
  • Fuel
  • Lighter or matches
  • 2-3 1-liter water bottles
  • Coffee-making system, like the jet boil coffee press
  • Water filtration (iodine, water filter, Steripen):
  • Dinner
  • Breakfast
  • Snacks/lunch
  • Coffee
  • Trash bag
  • Cord and stuff sack for hanging food

Medicine cabinet and Garage:

  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Small first aid kit
  • Whistle
  • Multi-tool
  • Duct tape
  • Parachute cord
  • Headlamp


  • Trowel
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toilet paper in plastic bag
  • Plastic bag to pack out used toilet paper


  • Map and compass (or GPS- so that you can record your track for uploading to Panorak!)


  • The number of layers you take is dependent on your preference and the weather forecast, but don’t forget a beanie, and a rain jacket, no matter what time of year. And remember, even if it’s 75 and sunny at the trailhead, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be 75 and sunny by the time you’re cooking dinner at your higher-elevation campsite, after the sun goes down. Pack accordingly.

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