Backpacking for Beginners: The Essential Backpacking Checklist Before Setting Out

Backpacking—hitting the trail with nothing more than life's necessities on your back—is the quintessential outdoor adventure. Do you want to go on a backpacking adventure but don't know where to start? We have put together the ultimate backpacking checklist for beginners so that you can be ready for your next adventure. 

Consider how far you intend to trek, the remoteness of the area, and what the weather forecast promises when determining what to bring on a backpacking excursion. In general, the longer and/or more remote the trip is, as well as the more severe the weather, the greater your belongings will be.

This article will cover everything from how much gear is recommended to what type of clothes are necessary. If you're looking for tips and tricks to make your journey easier, then this post is perfect for you!

Backpacking for Beginners


Backpacking is a type of outdoor activity in which hiking is combined with backcountry camping. It allows you to explore new places beyond the campground and have a more realistic, immersive outdoor experience. The size of your backpack (and you) must carry all of life's necessities on your back, making it a key difference from day hikes.

To get ready for your first backpacking trip, follow these steps:

  1. Choose an easy destination: Short overnight hikes close to home are best.
  2. Get essential gear and clothing: Borrow and scrounge gear to save money.
  3. Plan your food: Just-add-water meals can be found at your local backpacking stores, or find easy-to-cook options at regular grocery stores. Also, pack plenty of snacks for trail fuel.
  4. Get ready for your trip: Prepare for the planned excursion with a fully equipped backpack; acquire your permits; brush up on Leave No Trace standards.

If you have a seasoned backpacking buddy who knows you well, they may act as your guide. However, this can also be done on your own, which is the goal of this essay. Regardless of whether or not they are knowledgeable about camping, we urge you to bring a friend on any trip because it makes it safer and more enjoyable.

Backpacking Checklist


Your backpack is one of the most important things you can bring on a backpacking trip. It needs to be able to fit all of your gear, food, and water without being too heavy or uncomfortable. The backpack should have exterior storage compartments for easily accessible items like snacks, sunscreen, or rain jackets, so you don't have to dig around inside the bag every time you need something important.

A comfortable pack is necessary because it will save you from pain on the trails by distributing weight evenly across your body. For example, if you are carrying 20 pounds in a more traditional hiking pack that rests only on one shoulder, then that means about ten pounds of pressure is resting solely on your shoulders which can cause discomfort over long periods of time! This type of strain can also lead to injuries such as neck strains and lower back pain. Look for a backpack with padded shoulder straps and a waist belt to help take some of the load off your back and distribute it more evenly.

A backpacking pack that holds 30–50 liters is about right for overnight trips; go with packs in the upper end of that range if you'll be out for two or three nights. This will give you enough space to fit all of your gear comfortably without being too bulky or heavy when fully loaded down.

Hiking boots or shoes

Your hiking boots will be important because they will protect your feet from rocks, dirt, water, and other debris. Make sure you wear them before the trip because it can be very painful to break them in on an overnight hike!

Walking sticks

If you are looking for some extra support or balance while walking downhill, then consider getting hiking poles. They might come in handy if there is a lot of elevation gain during your journey. If not, feel free to leave this item at home since they have no weight-bearing value.


A tent is important for overnight backpacking trips. Not only will it keep you and your gear dry, but it can also provide some warmth on cold nights. Make sure to research the weather conditions of the area where you will be hiking so that you can choose a tent that is best suited for those conditions. 

Sleeping bag

A warm sleeping bag is essential for backpacking trips in colder climates. Down insulation is typically better than synthetic insulation because down bags are able to retain more heat when wet. If you are planning on camping in an area with mild temperatures, then a summer-weight bag should do the trick. 

Sleeping pad

A sleeping pad is not mandatory, but it definitely makes sleeping in a tent much more comfortable! A self-inflating or closed-cell foam pad is an easy choice because they are lightweight and can provide some extra insulation on cold nights.


A stove may not be essential, but it will certainly save you time and effort when cooking after a long day of hiking! There are many different types to choose from; see if anyone type stands out as the best option for your trip. Be sure to check local fire restrictions before packing anything that has open flames as this item does—you might need to leave it at home or purchase something safer instead! And don't forget to bring fuel for the stove, utensils for cooking, and a container to hold your food.

Water bottles/filter

It's important to stay hydrated while backpacking, so make sure you bring enough water with you in order to avoid dehydration. If there's no water source nearby, then you might want to invest in a portable filter.


A head lamp is an optional item, but it can be very helpful when setting up or breaking down camp after dark! If you are planning on hiking at night for any reason, then this could also come in handy. A LED headlamp or an LED flashlight can help free up your hands when you're in the dark while still giving your area a light source. There are a lot of different headlamps for you to choose from, so finding the headlamp that fits your needs is essential.

First-Aid Kit

While not mandatory for short trips, having some form of first aid kit with you will certainly help if something goes wrong.

Kitchen supplies

Kitchen supplies are incredibly important when backpacking because you will be using them for cooking meals. Make sure you have enough utensils for each person who is backpacking, a container to hold your food and water, and something that can serve as an extra cutting board if necessary (like a sturdy leaf or flat rock). You might also want to consider bringing along some spices/seasonings, so you don't always have the same taste in food every night!

Plenty of food

This is a no-brainer. Food is important for energy and morale! Make sure to bring enough food for the length of your trip, roughly one day per mile. While it might be convenient, do not rely on buying groceries in town—you don't want to hike extra miles just because you forgot something!

Weather-appropriate clothing

Your clothing is an important part of staying warm and dry while out in the wilderness. It is best to layer your clothing; this will allow you to remove or add layers when necessary (e.g., if it gets colder during the night). If there's a chance that temperatures could drop below freezing, then make sure you bring along appropriate cold-weather gear like waterproof boots, base layers, insulating mid-layers, outer shell jacket/pants, hats & gloves, etc.)

Emergency and hygiene supplies

Always bring emergency supplies just in case something happens while you're out on your trip. This could include items like a whistle, matches, a knife, and a multi-tool. And don't forget about hygiene supplies! Pack things like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, wipes, etc.—you'll be glad you have them when nature calls!