This is my typical three-season backpacking gear list, although I don’t take every item on this list on every trip. What I take depends on many variables, including the weather, trail conditions, hiking distance, etc. For a typical 2-3 night backpacking trip, my final pack weight is 25-30 lbs, including food, water and a few luxury items like my backpacking chair and pillow (does not include items I’m wearing). Note: this list is continually updated with new gear and replacements.
backpack: Osprey Aura 65 AG, XS (4.0 lbs)
This is a heavily padded pack with a suspension system that hugs your body. In other words, comfortable. The many pockets and zipped compartments are great for organizing gear. The only flaw on this pack is the teeny tiny openings for the hip belt pockets, which makes them hard to use. However, I’ve heard that the larger size packs have larger pockets. I have the extra small size.
raincover for backpack: Osprey ultralight rain cover, large (3 oz)
I like using a rain cover so the pack doesn’t get wet, and everything in the pockets stays dry too. Since I keep the backpack in my tent, this keeps the tent drier too. This rain cover has elastic cording to pull it tight on your pack regardless of the load or shape.
tent: Tarptent Moment DW (2 lbs 8oz)
When I’m backpacking, I like using a single person tent better than sharing a shelter. The Tarptent Moment DW is a one person double-wall tent with two doors and two vestibules – great for storing gear outside of the tent while allowing for easy access in and out of the tent on the other side. I have the partial solid fabric version, which adds privacy and warmth. An optional crossing pole (6 ounces) makes this tent freestanding, and adds four season capability with snow load support.
sleeping quilt: Enlightened Equipment Revelation (1 lb 6 oz)
After purchasing three different sleeping bags, I’m now trying a sleeping quilt. I was looking for something lighter in weight but still warm. I also wanted more flexibility: something more snug when it’s cold, and looser when it’s not. A quilt has the advantage of being more flexible in terms of how it it used. Available only by ordering directly from the manufacturer, you can choose from three fill weights (850, 900, or 950), six temperature ratings, five lengths, four widths, and more than 15 fabric colors for a totally customized quilt. I ordered a 950-fill, 10 degree, short length, regular width quilt with 20D fabric on the outside and optional water resistant stripes. This quilt weighs only 22 ounces, which is less than half as heavy as the Big Agnes Roxy Ann sleeping bag I usually take backpacking. The Revelation quilt has a short zipper at the foot, with snaps in a few spots and buckles that can be used with included straps to attach the quilt to your sleeping pad. On colder nights, wrap the quilt all the way around your body and connect the buckles and snaps. The top has a pull cord that tightens for keeping warm air inside, but there’s no hood. I wear a hat when I sleep, or if it’s really cold, I wear my puffy with the hood. In hot weather, leave it flat and use like a blanket. I’m looking forward to not being all zipped up in a sleeping bag when I don’t have to be.
sleeping bag for colder weather: Mountain Hardwear Phantasia 0 degree (2 lb 8 oz) no longer available, but the Mountain Hardwear Phantom Torch 3 is similar.
I mainly use this sleeping bag in the winter. The Phantasia keeps me toasty warm on the coldest of nights, even when snow camping. I can even go to bed cold, and within about 5-10 minutes, it feels like a heater has been turned on. It has a double zipper, so I can leave the bottom partially unzipped when my feet get too warm. The hood wraps around your head snugly, keeping cold air out, and an inner draft collar blocks the heated air from escaping out of the bag. When it gets too warm, I unzip it all the way and use it as a quilt, placing the foot of the sleeping pad into the bottom of the sleeping bag to keep it in place.
sleeping pad: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm, regular (15 oz)
This sleeping pad is very comfortable (2.5 inches thick) and lightweight. The Xtherm model has features to help keep you warm, with a reflective coating and an R-value of 5.7. I usually fill it up all the way, then lay on it and let out quite a bit of air until it’s just right. Almost like sleeping at home!
(optional) sheet for sleeping pad: Therm-a-Rest Universal Sheet (3 oz)
I purchased this sheet to fit over my sleeping pad to keep the sleeping bag from sliding around on (and off) the pad. It is also a nicer surface to sleep on when using a quilt.
pillow: REI Backpacker Pillow (6 oz)
I know, most backpackers don’t take pillows. I’ve tried using clothing in a stuff sack and it’s a no-go for me. Besides, sometimes I end up wearing all of my clothing in my sleeping bag to stay warm. This pillow is shaped like the hood on a sleeping bag, so it fits inside the hood much better and doesn’t pop out. On one side, the fabric is slick polyester, while the other is a polyester/cotton blend so it’s more comfortable to sleep on (and less slippery). The fill is a combination of synthetic and down, good for loft and warmth.
alternate pillow: Therm-a-Rest compressible, medium (9 oz)
This compressible foam-filled pillow is a bit bulky for backpacking, but it is very comfortable, so I take it when I can.
- stove: Jetboil Minimo system (14 oz)
This stove is my entire kitchen setup (with the addition of a long spoon) and serves as my cooking pot and bowl. I like to cook, and love the simmer feature of the Minimo. It’s easy to clean, so I don’t mind needing to wash it. I eat directly from the cooking pot, so I don’t need to carry anything else. The fuel consumption is minimal (even with simmering meals), so one canister lasts for multiple trips. So far, I’ve used it on over 20 backpacking trips and it’s still working like new.
- fuel for stove: 1 small canister (weight varies based on how much fuel is left, but a full canister weighs 7 oz)
- food sack: Osprey Ultralight Dry Sack
I use this stuff sack to carry and hang my food. It’s lightweight, with a large capacity, and it’s completely waterproof (tested on a particularly rainy night in Indian Heaven Wilderness).
- cord for hanging food: BlueWater 3mm NiteLine Utility Cord
The NiteLine cord is highly visible at night when you point your headlamp near it, making it look like a string of lights.
- mug: GSI Outdoors Infinity Backpacker Mug (3.5 oz)
An insulated mug that keeps drinks very hot, with a locking lid that limits spills.
- stuff sack for kitchen kit: Granite Gear Air ZippSack, extra small
I’m a very organized person, so I love to use different color stuff sacks so I can quickly grab what I need. This one is used for things needed at mealtime: my spoon, soap, towel and multi-tool.
- soap: Dr. Brommer’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap, lavender (2 oz) (also used in toiletry kit)
One soap, two purposes: for the camp kitchen and the body.
- multi-tool: Leatherman Squirt PS4 Multi-tool (2 oz)
This multi-tool includes regular pliers, needle-nose pliers, scissors, 3 screwdrivers, wire cutters, wood/metal file, straight knife and a bottle opener. I use the scissors the most.
- towel for washing dishes: PackTowl, small – 14″ x 10″ – green (1 oz)
I like to reduce the amount of disposable items I use, and pack towels are a great way to do so. They are lightweight, dry super fast, and this brand is microbial.
- spoon: Sea to Summit Alpha Light Spoon – Long (not shown)
The longer length of this spoon makes it much easier to stir food that is simmering.
- spork: Light My Fire
(optional) bear canister:
LIGHTER1 Lil’ Sami Polycarbonate Bear-Resistant Food Canister (1 lb 11 oz)
This is one of the lightest and smallest bear canisters currently made, and it’s approved by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee for use in the National Parks. The lid to the canister doubles as a lightweight cooking pan, while a metal brace inside the lid adds strength to the plastic canister and serves as a handle for the pan. A lid for the pan is also included in the kit. I’m not sure if I’ll use the pan to cook with since I love cooking with my Jetboil Minimo, but I might if I want to cook something more suited to a skillet than a pan. I bought a bear canister to take on trips where they are required, but I’ve been using it on most of my trips regardless of requirements. This is not due to bears, it’s pesky chipmunks and mice. Some rodents are particularly clever at getting into a food sack that can’t be hung a proper height and/or distance from a tree trunk, and have been known to eat holes in tents and backpacks to get to empty food wrappers (hasn’t happened to me yet, but some of my friends have experienced this). Raccoons and other critters are a problem in some areas as well, and using a bear canister will help eliminate feeding them instead of you.
Food: I can be a picky eater, and I like to cook, so I make my own dehydrated dinners. This helps keep the pack weight down while giving me something healthy and tasty to eat. Look for my recipes on this blog under the Backpacking Recipes topic. I’m planning on adding more over the next year.
- first aid kit: REI First Aid kit
I modified my first aid kit to make it lighter, removing duplicates of items and adding items not included, like a syringe for cleaning wounds and Second Skin blister care.
- emergency blanket: SOL Emergency Bivy (3 oz)
Shaped like a sleeping bag, this bivy is more durable than a typical emergency blanket.
- headlamp: Black Diamond Spot (3 oz)
This headlamp has high-power LEDs that are dimmable, and a red lamp.
- compass: Suunto MC-2 Pro
- repair kit: Gear Aid Tenacious Tape
This tape can be used to repair just about everything.
- fire starter kit: mini Bic lighter, cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly, waterproof matches
- extra batteries: 2 AAA for headlamp, 2 AA for GPS
- stuff sack for essentials: Granite Gear Air ZippSack, medium
Essentials to Stay Warm and Dry
- rain jacket: Outdoor Research Helium II (5.5 oz)
Goes on every hiking or backpacking trip (regardless of the forecast) and fits into its own pocket.
- rain pants: REI Rainwall, women’s petite, including a stuff sack (8 oz)
I only take these if there is a chance of rain in the forecast, although they are also great at keeping your lower body warm in cold temps.
- puffy jacket: Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer (6.7 oz)
Also goes on every trip, regardless of conditions. This is a down jacket that packs down small into its own pocket.
- gloves: Black Diamond Mid Weight Digital Liner Gloves (1.7 oz)
These gloves are slim fitting and lightweight, which is great for actually being able to do things with your hands while wearing them! The digital tips make using a smartphone possible too.
- hat, lightweight wool: Icebreaker Chase Beanie (0.9 oz)
- hat, heavyweight wool: Icebreaker Nova Beanie (2.4 oz)
- stuff sack for hats and gloves Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Stuff Sack, 2.5 L
- hydration bladder: Camelbak Antidote 3 liter (6.5 oz)
I switched from using only a water bottle to a hydration bladder and now I drink more often, which is important in staying well hydrated. The Camelbak is easy to fill, with a plastic ridge to hold onto and two thin plastic brackets to hold it open. The tube is easily detachable at the bottom for removing the reservoir to refill. The bite valve is easy to use, and I don’t detect a plastic taste in the water. Once at camp, I pull the hydration bladder out of my pack and use it for water storage. Combined with the Nalgene water bottle, I usually filter four liters of water at a time, which is good for a full day’s use while backpacking.
- water filter: MSR HyperFlow (10.3 oz)
This is now the main water filter that I take on backpacking trips. It’s easy to use and relatively easy to maintain. An advantage over systems where a bag must be filled with water, the intake tube and pre-filter on this pump can access water from a small trickle or pool, or a high bank beside a stream or lake where it would be difficult to scoop.
- alternate water filter: Sawyer Squeeze Plus (6 oz)
The Sawyer Squeeze is very lightweight, inexpensive, and does the job well. However, it can be tedious to use, especially at camp if you have a large amount of water to filter. When I do use this, I only take the 64 oz bag. I made a scooper for gathering the water by cutting the top off of a standard plastic water bottle. Scooping with the water bottle, then pouring into the Sawyer bag helps keep debris out.
- water bottle: Nalgene BPA-free Tritan, 1 quart (6 oz)
I didn’t used to take an extra water bottle and instead, accessed all of my water from my hydration bladder in my pack. After a couple of trips, it was easy to see how handy a water bottle would be, especially when cooking or when you want a drink of water and don’t want to lug the backpack around. The nozzle for my water filtration pump fits on this bottle, making it part of my water filtering system.
- camera: Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera (1 lb)
To get all of the photos that I need for my hiking books and this blog, I take hundreds of photos on every hike, so I always carry a DSLR.
- camera bag: Think Tank Slim Changer (8 oz)
This pouch attaches to a backpack hip belt for ease of access while hiking. It has room for a few extras, which I use for trail snacks and my reading glasses. Pockets on the outside hold the lens cap and a spare battery, and a zippered compartment on the bottom holds a rainfly.
- GPS Navigation: Garmin GPSmap 64s (7 oz)
It takes time to learn how to use it, but this is a full-featured GPS that has helped me stay on the right trail on many trips. Plus, I am able to print custom topo maps using Garmin’s Basecamp GPS software, and after a trip I can download the tracks to use in making maps for my hiking books.
- Personal Locator Device: DeLorme InReach SE (7 oz)
I added the InReach to my backpacking kit for the peace of mind that comes with an SOS device, but also so I could stay in touch with my husband when I’m out backpacking. The InReach SE is a two-way satellite communicator, so you can text back and forth as needed, which could be critical when an emergency requires it. The SOS button contacts emergency responders with your location and message. The device pairs with smartphones for use with the Earthmate app, adding mapping and the ability to type messages on a keyboard instead with the device’s clunky four-direction button. Annual or monthly service plans are required.
- phone: iPhone 6 with DualTek Extreme Shock case (6 oz)
The DualTek case has impact protection, with rubber bumpers and a tight fit.
- battery backup: Anker Astro Ei 5200mAh (6 oz)
For recharging the InReach and iPhone.
- mini toothpaste, toothbrush
- sunscreen in GoTube Bottle
- hand sanitizer (without alcohol, which aggravates skin conditions like eczema)
- bug spray: Sawyer Picaridin
- 3 containers for various lotions and ointments – humangear GoTubb 0.9 cu. in.
- towel for bathing: PackTowl, medium – green (1 oz)
- stuff sack for toiletries: Granite Gear Air ZippSack, small
- bidet: Blue Bidet BB-20 (2 oz)
There’s nothing like a strong spray of water to keep you feeling clean and refreshed on an overnight trip. This bidet is small and lightweight, and for going #2, it makes toilet paper almost not necessary.
- towel used for pee rag: PackTowl, small – 14″ x 10″ – purple (1 oz)
I don’t use toilet paper for peeing, and drip dry doesn’t work well enough for me, so I like using a bidet to spray water and the pee rag for drying off. I keep it on the outside of my pack and it dries super fast, with no smell (this towel is microbial).
- trowel: Deuce of Spades trowel
Super lightweight and easy to use.
- toilet paper or wipes (always carried out after use)
- odor-proof bag: Loksak Opsak, 11″ x 9″
An odor-proof bag is the best way to pack out used toilet paper. I keep one in my bathroom kit, and place a plastic doggie bag inside it so it conceals the contents and keeps the Opsak clean. Also helpful for carrying out doggie poo.
- stuff sack for bathroom kit: Granite Gear Air ZippSack, extra-small
Used for my trowel, toilet paper, wipes, hand sanitizer and an odor-proof bag for carrying out used toilet paper.
- underwear: ExOfficio Give-N-Go Briefs (1 oz)
- base layer top: Icebreaker BodyFit 200 Oasis Crew (5.8 oz)
I wear these to sleep in.
- base layer bottoms: Columbia Sportswear Midweight Stretch Tights with Omni-Heat (4.7 oz)
I wear these to sleep in, and for extra insulation under hiking pants in cold weather.
- one night: base layer top and bottoms for sleeping, 1 pair socks, 1 pair underwear
- two + nights: base layer top and bottoms for sleeping, extra shirt, 2 pair underwear, 2 pair socks
- backpacking chair: Tribe Provisions Adventure Chair (1 lb 3 oz)
A camp chair is certainly a luxury item, but it’s a game changer for me. It helps to be able to fully rest my back at camp, and I use it to load and unload all of my gear, keeping it from getting dusty, wet or muddy. I keep the chair inside the tent vestibule at night, storing gear in it off the ground. I used to own the Alite Mayfly Chair (1 lb 4 oz), but replaced it for a chair that sits higher, helpful for those of us with back issues.
- sit seat: REI sit seat (4 oz)
I take this on day hikes, for making sitting on the wet ground or hard rocks much more pleasant.
- umbrella: Montbell sun blocker umbrella (8 oz)
Though I still haven’t used this umbrella, I plan to use it in the rain if I need to, but the main reason I bought it is to keep the sun off me on exposed hikes.
- wallet: Sea to Summit Traveling Light See Pouch (2 oz)
This wallet holds my eyeglasses, smartphone, car keys, cash, credit card, and ID. One side is clear plastic so I can use my smartphone without removing it from the wallet.
- trail running shoes: Saucony Peregrine 6
I’m a complete convert to trail running shoes over hiking boots, and I’m not a runner. These Saucony Peregrines are very comfortable right out of the box, extremely lightweight, and have the best traction of any hiking boot or shoe I’ve ever worn. They provide great support, even for backpacking with a 30 pound load. I prefer using them to wade creeks and cross streams, and with the open mesh of the shoe allowing the water to drain, they are usually dry before I’m done hiking. Bonus: there’s no need for camp shoes since these are so comfy to wear. I loosen the laces for wearing around camp and to make them easier to slip on and off.
- water resistant trail running shoes: Saucony Xodus ISO Runshield
These are comfortable for use in cold and wet spring and fall weather, keeping my feet dry on rainy Pacific Northwest trails.
- winter hiking boots: Keen Kovan Polar
I use these boots primarily for snowshoeing in the winter. I wanted a boot to keep my feet warm and dry in the snow, yet not be stiff. These are very comfortable without needing to be broken in.
- Black Diamond trekking poles
I take these on every trip, but especially for backpacking to help reduce the impact on the lower body (especially knees) and to keep stabilized on trail. They also help with water crossings and going up (and down) steep steps.
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