Your Ultimate Backpacking Checklist for 2021

Every trip is an exciting thing that every adventurer looks for. However, it is crucial to have a full set of necessary items to ensure your safety, security and survival. Without the must-have equipment, you have no chance for a true, complete experience as a traveler. For your convenience, we have prepared is a mandatory backpacking list available for you.

What is the difference between backpacking, trekking and hiking?

The three concepts seem to have same meaning but there are slight differences. Backpacking is associated with a form of cheap travel with staying in inexpensive lodgings and carrying all the necessary things in a backpack. Trekking means a higher level of difficulty traveling, most often – mountain hikes lasting more than two days. Hiking means a long energetic walk in the natural environment for a day or overnight, as opposed to trekking which involves a longer transition into the wild for at least a few days.

How did we prepare the backpacking checklist?

It is imperative to have backpacking essentials when travelling. To create the full list, we took into consideration what is needed for survival of the individual, as well as what the traveler will need to make the trip complete, taking into account the type of terrain and weather. Based on experience and knowledge, the other factors that guided us in preparing the list were the weight and volume of each item, which should not hinder, but to help.

The 10 Essentials for Camping & Backpacking

Here, we explain in detail about the must-have essentials when you are camping or backpacking. You can always add something more, if you can wear it, but do not remove any of the things listed below, as their lack can causes you inconvenience, or can harm your health. From the biggest to the smallest, the items in the checklist will be your possessions when you travel, so they will be all you have – something like a mobile home. In purpose to have a nice trip, got to get prepared!

1. Backpacking Tent

The tent is an absolute must in your backpacking gear list, if you intend to camp or spend the night outdoors somewhere during your backpacking trip. The characteristics you should pay attention to when choosing a tent are the following: number of people, water and wind resistance, strength of the material, especially on the bottom, and the weight. The best tent for your trip is the one that completely suits your individual needs. Depending on your wishes, the tent could have some extras, but simplicity is recommended when you are out of home.

2. Backpacking Food

Many travelers make the mistake of adding mostly canned foods to their backpacking packing list. You still can have it, but do not rely only on it. We should mention that fresh air and walking do sharpen the appetite, so the recommended food should be bulky, light, durable and high-calorie. The following edible provisions are suitable for backpacking and – in fact, in the tourism as whole: dry sausages; hard vegetables and fruits; dry soups and other similar semi-finished products. Also, you will need sweet food as honey,  chocolate, biscuits, dry juices,  butter, olives, cheese; yellow cheese, rusks and bread.
backpacking food

3. Backpacking Stove

By presumption, for camping and hiking you should choose a stove that does not weigh you down. Consider both its weight and fuel, especially if you have a long transition ahead of you. A small container of fuel for the stove is often enough for an independent trip on the weekend. You need to look for the size, type of fuel and extras in the model. If you need just a single burner backpacking stove, bear in mind that it is not suitable for making an entire family meal.
backpacking stove

4. Fire Kit

Fire is needed everywhere, especially outdoors. The main thing is to be prepared for both starting and putting it out. Every fire kit should consist of the following components: watertight container, lighter, waterproof matches, Ferro rod, Magnesium rod, fire sticks, candle, cotton wool and petroleum jelly. The choice is yours about what fire starter kit you will get among the best latest ones on the market. Read carefully the instructions provided in the packaging to know how exactly to start and to put out fire, to make sure you will avoid any harm when doing it.
backpacking fire kit

5. Sleeping Bag or Quilt

You can add in your backpacking checklist either but not both, if you mean to get a trip on your own – of course, in case you don’t plan going on a severe cold weather. They both do one thing – warming your body. Firstly, get yourself informed in advance about the benefits of each, to decide which one will be more convenient for you. However, we advise you to take a sleeping bag if the weather is colder to ensure good coverage of the head, too. Many models of sleeping bags can actually be using as blankets.
sleeping bag

6. Backpacking Chair

First of all, the folding chair should be comfortable, stable, withstand the weight of your body, but it should not weigh you in the backpack. There are variants with a metal or composite frame, which are lighter than those with a wooden one and are more suitable for camping by car, as their seat is attached by a plastic net and not by a rope. As for the small folding chairs, they are ideal for hiking, as they are very compact.
backpacking chair

7. Backpacking Water Filter or Water Filtration System

Water is essential for the body, especially when traveling. However, it is not of the same taste and quality in different parts of the world. You can't easily trust every spring that its water is drinkable. Going through rocky or muddy terrain can also contaminate the water, or you may need to drink not quite clean water. That is why water filters or a mobile water filtration system is absolutely mandatory in the list of backpacking essentials. The variety on the market is huge, and the common characteristics are the following: compactness, necessity, healthy and saving you.
backpacking water filter

8. Backpacking Light/Headlamp

When preparing your stuff, do not forget about the darkness you will meet. In your backpacking gear list always should stay a backpacking light or/and a headlamp, especially when entering into caves, walking through the night or in a foggy day. When looking among headlamps and backpacking lights of the best brands, be aware that from 100 to 150 lumens should be adequate for most common needs when traveling. But if you need lighting for activities like scrambling and route-finding at night – then you surely will need a more powerful headlamp, as of 300 lumens.
headlamp backpacking

9. First Aid Kit

The first aid kit is a big must, no matter what the purpose of your trip is. You can supplement it with medications that you usually use for some reason, but keep in mind that the first aid kit should contain the following things which make it complete: gloves, eye protection, face mask, CPR pocket mask, tourniquet, roller gauze, 4×4 gauze pads, medical tape, two triangular bandages, SAM splint, scissors. Also, you need to be put it the kit medicines for headache, vomiting and diarrhea, as well as insect repellent and ointment to relieve insect bites.
first aid kit
Last, but not least, your backpacking packing list is to include navigation equipment such as: a map, a compass, a route description, GPS, personal locator beacon, watch. Without them, any trip is a mission impossible and, above all, dangerous. Orientation in space and time can also direct you to new horizons to discover more exciting places to visit. Be sure you have checked the condition of each appliance in advance, including the quality of the glasses. Sunglasses must have stable sun protection and anti-reflection, and the map must not be torn or blurred.
All the above-stated items must be on the mandatory backpacking gear list. Neglecting the topic can lead to unwanted consequences. Make every trip safe and enjoyable! We wish you best of trips all the time, wherever you decide to go!

Full Backpacking Options Checklist in each category:

Backpacking Gear

  • Backpacking Pack
  • Backpack Rain Cover
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sleeping Pad
  • Tent Or Hammock
  • Compression Sack
  • Pillow
  • Sleeping Back Liner
  • Day Pack

Hiking Extras

  • Headlamp or Flashlight
  • Camera
  • Binoculars
  • Knife
  • Hammock
  • Sunglasses
  • Chargers
  • Extra Batteries
  • Solar Panel
  • Trekking Poles
  • Permits
  • Camp Chair
  • Games

Emergency Items

  • First Aid Kit
  • Lighter/Matches
  • Whistle
  • Emergency Blanket
  • Bear Deterrent

Food and Water

  • Food
  • Water
  • Water Reservoir/Bottle
  • Water Filter
  • Water Chemical Treatment
  • Camping Stove
  • Cutlery
  • Snacks
  • Stove Fuel
  • Cookware
  • Plates, Bowls, Cups
  • Matches
  • Bear Cannister
  • Coffee Press
  • Soap and Sponge

Clothes in The Winter

  • Base Layers
  • Gloves
  • Warm Hat
  • Crampons
  • Snow Shoes
  • Warm Winter Jacket
  • Insulated Hiking Boots

Personal Items

  • ID
  • Phone
  • Wallet
  • Cash/Credit Card


  • Map
  • Compass
  • Route Description
  • GPS
  • Personal Locator Beacon
  • Watch


  • Bathing Wipes
  • Toilet Paper
  • Insect Repellent
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Waste Bag
  • Trowel
  • Menstruation Products
  • Medication
  • Sunscreen
  • Toothbrush/Toothpaste
  • Blister Treatment
  • Chapstick


  • Sweat Wicking Shirt
  • Pants, Shorts or Leggings
  • Lightweight Fleece
  • Jacket
  • Hiking Boots or Shoes
  • Many Pairs of Wool Socks
  • Sun Hats
  • Sandals or Camp Shoes
  • Rain Jacket
  • Gaiters
  • Sleeping Clothes
  • Buff
  • Underwear

FREE DOWNLOAD: Backpacking Checklist

Here is a simple, single-page checklist that you can print out for use on future trips. Cheers!