Your Outdoor Packing List: Backpacking

Backpacking is a style of travel that is well-suited to the independent adventurer. Everything you’ll need to make camp, feed yourself, and dress appropriately will be carried on your back, and you’ll have a real interaction with nature as you forge your way through it. A backpacker’s route from Europe to southeast Asia called the Hippie Trail popularized backpacking in the 1960s and 70s, leading to a robust industry catering to those who desire this form of travel. Many people have cited a backpacking trip as a pivotal moment in their lives, learning how to approach the world almost entirely on their own.

You don’t have to travel halfway around the world to enjoy backpacking though; in fact, there are many places across the country where you can experience the less-traveled parts of nature self-sufficiently. While everyone’s backpacking preferences will be different, there are a few things that should always be on your packing list. Here are some of our suggestions for what to include for a backpacking trip.

Today’s Packing List: Backpacking

  1. Proper Backpack
    Weight is going to be a crucial factor of your packing list, and your backpack shouldn’t take up too much of that allowance. If you’re doing a few-day backpacking trip, we’d suggest an ultralight pack, like the Vapor Flash from Granite Gear. It weighs in at just over 3 lbs, and has a weight capacity of 30 pounds. It’s compatible with a hydration system, and the lid is a smaller pack that detaches from the rest of the body for use as a hip pack or even a pillow. The internal frame is made for both long and short torsos, and is available in men’s and women’s models.
  2. Accommodations
    A tent is a great thing to have when you’re camping in the outdoors, but a tent that you would pack for a car camping trip will not be practical for a backpacking trip due to size and weight restrictions. Hammock tents are a great solution to the need for lightweight accommodations that offer comfort as well as portability. This hammock tent from Crazy Creek is fully enclosed by a zippered mosquito net canopy, and even further protected with a waterproof tarp. Including guy lines and stakes in the stuff sack, the total weight is just over 4 lbs. All you need is a couple trees and an affinity for the simplistic to have a roof over your head on a backpacking trip.
  3. Cooking System
    Obviously, you’re not going to want to haul around everything but the kitchen sink for your backpacking trip, but you would appreciate some way of heating water and foods, wouldn’t you? Fortunately, there’s a wide variety of cooking systems designed specifically for backpackers’ needs: lightweight, easy to maintenance, and effective. That’s why we love Jetboil, an all-in-one system that is easy to use and hardly noticeable in the pack. With the average total system coming in at less than 2 lbs, this tool will be invaluable on the trail.
  4. Warmth
    A sleeping bag can account for a lot of extra weight and bulk on your pack, so again, look for ultralight, quality options that will still meet your expectations in terms of warmth and capacity. This ultralight sleeping bag from Sierra Designs is temperature rated down to 30 degrees, and filled with post-consumer recycled polyester that warms like down, and retains its insulation properties even when wet. The ergonomically shaped sleeping bag features a vent in the footbox, a draft tube, and a jacket hood so that you can achieve the perfect temperature for warm and cool evenings. The total weight comes in at just over 2 lbs, leaving you plenty of space for everything else.

Image via Loren Sztajer

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