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The Ultimate Backpacking Checklist

The Ultimate Backpacking Checklist

Exploring the great outdoors can be the perfect time to get to know someone better, take a trip with friends, or spend some quality alone time. But when it comes to picking what to pack, bringing along (or forgetting) the wrong things can turn an exciting excursion into a downright drag.

Use a duffle backpack as your main bag when traveling. No matter where you’re headed, you’ll be ready to go with its durable material and versatile features. When not in use, the padded shoulder straps can be tucked away for secure storage.

Between medical supplies and ways to stay dry, there are plenty of items you won’t want to forget. Be sure to bring everything you need using this ultimate backpacking checklist:

 

Outdoor Clothes

The weather can change at the blink of an eye, and if you’re spending time outdoors, this can mean trouble. Be sure to pack everything you need for all types of weather – no matter when or where you plan on backpacking.

Pack all clothes in packing cubes. Try packing each day’s outfit in its own packing cube to keep it separate. Instead of digging through your bag to find what you’re looking for, packing cubes allow quick access to the items you need without have to rearrange your luggage, saving you time and energy on your trip.

If your bag happens to get wet, the packing cubes will add an extra layer of protection between your clothes and liquids.  Make sure to bring along:

  1. Wool socks: plus an extra pair to use when your other ones are drying
  2. Water-proof boots: need to be sprayed with water-proofing spray well before your trip
  3. A rain jacket: lightweight that won’t take long to dry out after a rainstorm
  4. Under-layers: extra layers of thin spandex or wool to keep you warm and prevent chaffing. Bring a top and bottom

While it might be tempting to over-pack and bring extra outfits, remember that you’ll have to carry everything you bring along. Organizing everything in lightweight packing cubes will help keep you from over-packing a heavy bag.

First Aid

It’s hard to be prepared for everything that could possibly happen, but you don’t want to get caught without basic first aid supplies. Organize everything you’ll need to bring along in organizer zip bags. These clear bags will help you to see what’s inside when you’re in a hurry. Remember to include the following in your first aid kit:

  1. Gauze: a roll and pads are best
  2. Elastic wrap (for sprained ankles, wrists, etc.)
  3. Antiseptic wipes: easier than bringing along liquid antiseptics
  4. Anti-bacterial ointment
  5. Tweezers
  6. Band-Aids (in multiple sizes)
  7. Rubbing alcohol
  8. Medical tape
  9. Q-tips: for cleaning wounds and cuts, and applying ointments
  10. Gloves
  11. Advil/Tylenol
  12. Aspirin
  13. Benadryl/antihistamine
  14. Bottle of water: for either severe dehydration or cleaning out cuts or wounds in dire circumstances

 

Outdoor Protection

Facing the elements can be tough, so be prepared. Even in cold climates, the sun can have damaging, lasting effects. Don’t leave home without the following:

  1. Sunscreen
  2. Lip balm
  3. SPF clothing: to prevent the sun from burning you in extra-hot climates
  4. Wide-brimmed hat
  5. Tarp: more than one is best (one for above your tent, one for underneath your tent)
  6. Light-weight poncho: the throw-away kind is fine
  7. Aloe: for after you get sun-burned
  8. Bug repellant: make sure it contains DEET
  9. Headlamp: if you’ll be hiking after dusk
  10. Sunglasses
  11. Pocket knife: you never know when it will come in handy. A multi-tool is useful too
  12. Hand sanitizer
  13. Small, wet-wicking towel: thin microfiber ones work best for folding small

 

You Can’t Forget…

You won’t want to find yourself without these items on your next backpacking adventure:

  1. Water bottle with water purifier
  2. Extra granola, energy, or meal bars
  3. Cash/credit card
  4. Cell phone: don’t forget the charger!
  5. Waterproof bag: for your cell phone and money
  6. Matches or lighter
  7. Tissues/small roll of toilet paper
  8. Flashlight
  9. Extra batteries/chargers
  10. Map
  11. GPS/compass

Dry bags are essential when backpacking – even when your items are stowed away. A true adventurer knows the weather, your situation, or your surroundings could change at a moment’s notice, so it’s better to be prepared. Store anything you wouldn’t want damaged or wet in dry bags: cameras, iPods, MP3 players, chargers, all the essential items you need to keep safe


From the Rockies, to the Himalayans, to the Grand Canyon, every great backpacker needs certain supplies for their journey. Before you lace up your boots, pack your bag with everything you’ll need on this ultimate backpacking checklist and you’ll be set for your next journey.

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