Whether you're hiking the Appalachian Trail for the next six months or backpacking around Europe for two weeks, packing for an outdoor adventure can be tricky. You want your bag to be as lightweight as possible — but still contain everything you need for your trip.
How do you know what to take and what to leave behind? All you need is the right backpacking gear list to tell you what things to pack for any adventure.
A Rucksack to Hold All Your GearTETON Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack
When you go backpacking, what's your most important piece of gear? You're going to be traveling a lot of miles on foot, so a lightweight, structured bag like the TETON Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack is a must.
A Headlamp So You Don't Get Lost In The DarkLuxoLite Headlamp
Whether you're backpacking through the Outback, jogging down the street at night or simply taking out the trash in the dark, a hands-free light is an essential tool. Everyone should own a headlamp like the LuxoLite Headlamp, which gives you all the visibility you need at a budget price of less than $15.
A Quality First Aid KitSurviveware Small First Aid Kit for Backpacking
Anything can happen when you're backpacking, from minor blisters and scrapes to sprains and strains — maybe even a bear encounter! Okay, you probably won’t really encounter a bear, but a handy kit like the Surviveware Small First Aid Kit for Backpacking can take care of all those other minor injuries you could suffer out in the woods.
Travel-Size ToiletriesSqueeze Pod Travel Size Toiletries
When it comes to packing toiletries for a backpacking trip, you just need to remember one thing: Only pack the essentials! For starters, Squeeze Pod Travel Size Toiletries come in small, easy to use pods that are perfect for tossing into your pack when you're on the go. After all, when you're in the backcountry, there's no need for makeup, hair styling products or even a razor. All those things just take up precious rucksack space and add weight.
A Variety of ClothingColumbia Women's Saturday Trail II Convertible Pant
In many locations, it can be sweltering during the day and downright cold at night, or raining one minute and bright and sunny the next. No matter what the weather is doing, clothing made from synthetic materials, such as the Columbia Women's Saturday Trail II Convertible Pant work best.
Wool Socks to Keep Your Feet DrySmartWool Men's Hike Medium Crew
There's a saying in the backpacking community: Cotton kills. In contrast, these SmartWool Men’s Hiking Socks will keep your feet dry and protected through all kinds of weather. Made out of 66% merino wool, they let your feet breathe and keep them at a comfortable temperature year-round.
Ear Plugs and an Eye Mask So You Can Get Some RestBedtime Bliss Sleep Mask and Moldex Ear Plug Set
Whether you're sleeping at a crowded campsite or a noisy hostel, it can be difficult to get quality sleep when you're not at home. The Bedtime Bliss Sleep Mask and Moldex Ear Plug Set can help you catch some shuteye, no matter the conditions.
A Hat for All Kinds of WeatherCamo Coll Outdoor UPF 50+ Boonie Hat
Whether you're out on the trails or walking down the street, a boonie hat sounds silly but always comes in handy. The Camo Coll Outdoor UPF 50+ Boonie Hat provides UV protection in the summer and cold protection in the winter and keeps your face safe from the sun and wind. Added bonus: There's less chance ticks will end up in your hair!
Camper's Toilet Paper So You're Always PreparedColeman Camper’s Toilet Paper
If you're an experienced backpacker, you already know toilet paper is essential, but that doesn’t mean you’ve got room to tote around bulk packs of Charmin. Coleman Camper’s Toilet Paper provides comfort and hygiene in a compact, easy-to-carry format.
A Water Filtration SystemLifeStraw Personal Water Filter
Unless you're Bear Grylls, you probably don't know how to filter water using an old sock and some gravel — and who would want to drink gravelly water anyway? A simple water filter like the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter makes the process a lot easier and very compact.
Quick Dry Travel TowelActive Roots Microfiber Travel Towel
If you missed it before, rucksack space is at a premium in the wild, so as much as you might want to pack a nice, cushy bath towel, you just don’t have room. Luckily, this compact little Active Roots Microfiber Travel Towel works just as well in a compact form.
Wipes So You Can Clean Up Wherever You AreCombat Wipes Active Outdoor Wet Wipes
Some days, you just don't have the energy (or the means) to take an actual shower. On days like that, these Combat Wipes Active Outdoor Wet Wipes can take care of the problem. Unlike regular wimpy wipes, they are extra thick and extra large, so they can actually get you clean.
A Quality Pair of Hiking BootsKEEN Men's Targhee II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot
If you're backpacking, you're walking — a lot. Make sure your feet are protected in a good shoe like the KEEN Targhee II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot, which comes in both men's and women's styles. After all, you can’t enjoy your hobby if you don’t take care of your feet. Whether you're climbing a mountain or climbing some museum steps, a good pair of hiking boots will come in handy.
A Lightweight TentFeatherstone Outdoor Backpacking Two-Person Tent
There are many different types of tents out there, but when it comes to backpacking, only one thing matters: weight. This ultralight three-season Featherstone Outdoor Backpacking Two-Person Tent is the perfect choice.
A Quality Sleeping Bag to Keep You WarmAbco Tech Sleeping Bag
After a long day of walking, nothing feels better than laying down on a nice soft bed. That’s a bit of a challenge outdoors, but it’s still possible with the Abco Tech Sleeping Bag. At just 3 pounds, the bag is fairly light, and it’s also inexpensive.
Dehydrated Meals for Your ConvenienceMountain House Essential Bucket
Freeze-dried meals are lightweight, filling and perfect for backpacking. Bonus: Some like the items in the Mountain House Essential Bucket are even tasty. This particular bucket comes with enough meals to last 3.5 days, making it the perfect option for backpacking, camping, hiking and even short-term emergency preparedness.
Sunglasses to Keep Your Eyes ProtectedDuduma Polarized Sports Sunglasses
Even if you’re going to a cold locale, don't assume you don't need eye protection. Sunglasses are always a necessity outdoors, and at less than $25, the Duduma Polarized Sports Sunglasses are an excellent option for minimizing light exposure on your outdoor adventures.
Bear Spray to Keep the Bears AwaySabre Frontiersman Bear Spray
People always say that bears are more afraid of you than you are of them, and it’s probably true. Your chance of getting attacked by a bear out in the woods is slim to none, but Sabre Frontiersman Bear Spray is definitely one of those "better safe than sorry" products.
Universal Travel AdapterUniversal Travel Adapter
Even if you're backpacking in the backcountry with absolutely no access to civilization, you have to emerge and power up at some point. If your phone is long dead from your journey, you may need a Universal Travel Adapter to plug in and recharge, no matter where you are in the world.
Bug Spray So You Can Stay Bite FreeOFF! Deep Woods Sportsmen Insect Repellent
Backpacking is a lot of fun — until the bugs start eating you up. Your best bet is to spray yourself and your gear with a DEET-containing product, such as OFF! Deep Woods Sportsmen Insect Repellent. It doesn't matter if you're in the U.S. or abroad, if you're on a multi-day hike or an overnight camping trip, you will need it to ward off the bugs.
A Waterproof JacketFrogg Toggs Ultra-Lite2 Rain Jacket
Unless you're backpacking in the Sahara, eventually you're going to get caught in a rainstorm. A lightweight, packable option like the Frogg Toggs Ultra-Lite2 Rain Jacket can make the experience much more pleasant — maybe even enjoyable.
A Travel Camera So You Can Capture All Your Fun MomentsPanasonic Lumix ZS50 Camera
If you want to capture all the beautiful scenery and wonderful moments on your trip, you need something much better than the camera on your cell phone. When it comes to travel cameras, the Panasonic Lumix ZS50 has always been a favorite.
A Backpacking GPS to Keep You on TrackGarmin ETrex 10 Outdoor Handheld GPS Navigation Unit
If you're heading out hiking in the backcountry all by yourself, it's easy to get lost. A handheld GPS like the Garmin ETrex 10 Outdoor Handheld GPS Navigation Unit can keep you heading in the right direction, no matter how far you hike into the wilderness.
Trekking Poles to Help Maintain Your FootingCascade Mountain Tech Aluminum Adjustable Trekking Poles
Trekking poles aren't always necessary, and using them increases your energy expenditure. However, if you have balance issues, bad knees or difficulty navigating inclines, then poles like the Cascade Mountain Tech Aluminum Adjustable Trekking Poles can be a God-send.
A JetBoil for Cooking on the GoJetboil Zip Camping Stove Cooking System
Freeze-dried meals aside, cooking in the field can be tough. Even if you're staying in a hostel, hot food options might be limited, which is where the Jetboil Zip Camping Stove Cooking System comes in to play. It’s hands-down the best thing to happen to backpacking since the invention of the lightweight tent.
An Emergency Whistle in Case You Get LostMichael Josh Outdoor Emergency Survival Whistles
No matter who you are — or how experienced — you should always carry an emergency whistle when hiking or backpacking. At less than $8 for two whistles, this pack of Michael Josh Outdoor Emergency Survival Whistles might be the best purchase you make all year.
Local Travel Guide/Phrase BookRick Steves Pocket London
When you're traveling abroad, it's helpful to understand local culture as well as find fun, exciting places to visit. A simple guidebook, such as Rick Steves Pocket London, will tell you everything you need to know about a new location, from where to eat and sleep to how to speak to locals and how to not offend anyone.
A Day Pack for Short Outings4monster Durable Packable Backpack
If you're taking an extended trip, you're likely lugging around a large, somewhat bulky, rucksack with all your gear. However, a pack like the 4monster Durable Packable Backpack is a much better option for short outings. It easily tucks away in your rucksack when you're not using it.
A Travel Battery So Your Phone Never DiesMC-Power Solar Power Bank
If you're staying in a hostel or a commercial campground, there's a good chance you'll have access to a power outlet, but if you're camping in the backcountry, it could be quite some time before you see electricity again. A portable battery like this Solar Power Bank easily hangs on your backpack and lets you charge while you hike
A Hiking Journal to Remember the Good TimesJournals Unlimited: A Hiker's Journal
Fact: Every backpacking, camping and hiking trip is filled with irreplaceable memories. With a fun hiking journal like Journals Unlimited: A Hiker's Journal , you can be sure to treasure those memories forever. It doesn't matter if you're in another country or just 10 minutes from home, if you're away for months or just a couple of hours, being outdoors is an adventure worth recording.