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Backpacking List

You'll need a good backpacking list if you're planning a hiking trip with your family!

4 hikers wearing backpacks

Here is the hiking gear checklist we use.

How to use this list

Modify this list to suit your family's needs and to fit the season and locale.

  • Add any additional items that you want to bring. How about a GPS, or a watch?
  • Remove the items you won't need. If you are hiking in the summer at low elevations, you probably won't need gaiters.

hikers in meadow

Click here for a printable backpacking checklist.

Before you go

  • Choose your route. Tell some friends where you are going and when you expect to get back.
  • Pack a change of dry clothes to leave in your vehicle at the trailhead. You'll want to change out of your sweaty hiking gear for the ride home.
  • Put a canned drink for each person in a creek near the beginning of the trail. Hide it carefully so that it will be waiting for you when you come back at the end of your trip. (This is especially wonderful when you are hiking in the summer. There's nothing nicer than a cold drink waiting for you at the end of a long hot hike!)

pile of packed backpacks

My backpacking list

What to wear

  • synthetic clothing
  • hiking socks
  • hiking boots
  • sun hat
  • gaiters
  • backpack

Easily accessible

(in a top pocket or strapped to your pack)

  • map and compass
  • sunglasses, sunscreen
  • water bottles (filled)
  • snacks (like trail mix and carrot sticks)
  • lunch
  • whistle
  • bear spray

In your backpack

  • toilet paper
  • toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • biodegradable soap
  • washcloth
  • hand towel
  • garbage bags
  • binoculars
  • rope
  • camera
  • notebook and pencil
  • deck of cards, travel games
  • paperback book
  • insect repellent
  • sandals or light shoes
  • food, packed in color-coded stuff sacks (breakfast food in one sack, lunches in another, dinners in another)
Click here for camping food ideas.

If you are doing more than a 1- or 2-night hike, you'll probably need to carry dried food. There's a great selection of freeze dried food for backpackers available: everything from lasagna to chili to ice cream!

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it's not that hard to make your own dehydrated food! It's cheaper than the packaged brands, and you can make exactly what you like.

Click here to learn how to dehydrate food for backpacking.


  • wool socks
  • underwear
  • base layer (long underwear) top and bottoms
  • short-sleeved synthetic shirt
  • synthetic pants
  • shorts
  • long-sleeved fleece top
  • fleece pants
  • raincoat and rain pants
  • fleece hat
  • gloves or mittens

backpacking tent in alpine meadow

When you return

Don't forget about the drink you hid in the creek!

Remember to call your friends and tell them that you made it home safely!

Now that you have a good backpacking list, visit this page for more camping lists.

Before setting out on your next camping trip, be sure to visit The Camping Family home page. You'll find lots of helpful information.

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