Generate A Camp Gear List

The worst part of backpacking in the deep wilderness is finding out that you have forgotten an essential item when you are miles upon miles from anywhere.  To prevent this from ever happening again, make sure that you have a good backpacking checklist to refer to every time you pack for another big wilderness adventure.  Use this article as a guide to help you form this list and never forget anything again. 

Be sure to also read part one of this series of articles to create your backpacking gear list. 


 The amount of clothing and layers that you bring is very much dependent on where you will be backpacking.  If you are traveling to the southern end of the Appalachian Trail in the middle of the summer, then you may not need heavier layers to keep you warm.  However, if you find yourself hiking into the depths of the Rocky Mountains, then you will want to bring plenty of layers regardless of the time of year.  You should always be sure to pack moisture wicking shirts on the trail.  Moisture wicking material like that made by Under Armor will keep you cool and dry while you are hiking.  Cotton has no place in the mountains. 

Many different companies like REI, Columbia, and Patagonia also make very good convertible hiking pants that are great for the trail.  These pants usually have zippers at the knees so the bottom part of the pant can be removed—thus you now are wearing a pair of shorts.  Convertible pants are generally lightweight and water resistant. 

A good pair of hiking boots is essential for a comfortable backpacking trip.  Be sure to get shoes that are best suited for your hiking needs as there are many different levels of durability and maneuverability available in hiking boots.  It is also convenient to purchase shoes that have a waterproof Gore-Tex lining.  Wet feet always make for a miserable hike.  Also, be sure to break in your hiking boots before you bring them on a long backpack.  If you do not do this, your feet could be full of blisters after only a few miles. 

The comfort of your feet will also go a long way with the purchase of a good pair of socks.  Most hiking socks will help keep your feet dry and cushioned.  Some socks even have special layers that help lessen the movement of a foot within a shoe, which helps prevent blisters.  Although not required, it is also very nice to have a pair of sandals at your campsite. 

Be sure to pack gloves, a winter hat, a waterproof jacket or poncho, and a heavy jacket to round out the list.  If you are hiking in variable weather climates you can never know what the weather will do even if you are hiking in the middle of the summer.  One minute it could be raining and the next it could be freezing in the middle of the night.  Be prepared for any and every weather condition possible. 

For the Checklist:

  • Moisture wicking shirts
  • Convertible pants
  • Hiking Boots and Socks
  • Sandals
  • Winter Hat
  • Underwear
  • Gloves
  • Rain jacket or poncho
  • Heavy jacket

Route Finding and Guides

You cannot get anywhere without know where you are going.  Make sure you have detailed directions to your trailhead, and make sure that you know exactly where you are going.  A good topographic map or detailed guide book are absolutely essential.  Sometimes you can find route descriptions that you can print off from the internet.  If you do this, make sure to pack the guide in a plastic Ziploc bag so it does not get wet. 

If you really get in a bind or are just hiking through thick forests, a compass will always help guide your way.  Do not underestimate the importance of this simple piece of gear. 

It seems as if a headlamp or flashlight are the easiest pieces of gear to forget.  Do not be left in the dark and leave these at home.

For the Checklist:

  • Map
  • Compass
  • Headlamp or Flashlight
  • Guidebook
  • Pocketknife

Comfort and First Aid

Being comfortable on a long backpacking trip will make you life much easier.  A baseball cap and sunglasses, while not essential, will keep the sun off of your face and will make for a more comfortable trip.  Be sure to apply sunscreen liberall—a bad sunburn could possibly ruin your entire trip.  Sunscreen is especially important at higher elevations where the sun is more intense.  If you are camping anywhere near water, a bottle of bug spray is extremely helpful to keep the mosquitoes off. 

Never leave from your home without a first aid kit in your backpack.  Gauze bandages and traditional band-aids are essential.  Alcohol pads to clean a wound are also highly recommended. 

For the Checklist:

  • Baseball Cap
  • Sunglasses
  • Headache and Pain Medicine
  • First Aid Kit
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Spray


Mountain toiletries are usually the easiest things for men to forget on a backpack.  Natural soap like Doctor Bronner’s is great for washing your cookware, but it can also be used to wash your body if desired.  Because it is all-natural, you will not have to worry about any unwanted substances getting into the wild.  Toilet paper is a must for any mountain trip for obvious reasons.  If you are out in the wilderness for a few days, you will definitely want to bring a toothbrush and toothpaste—your dentist will thank you. 

Moleskin is like a bandage that covers blisters or “hot spots” on your feet.  This will help lessen the harsh impact of hiking and will great increase your comfort if you develop any pesky blisters. 

For the Checklist:

  • Natural Soap
  • Toilet Paper
  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste
  • Moleskin

Other Extras

Everything listed in this list is completely optional, but they could greatly help you on your backpacking journey.  A GPS probably should not be used in place of a map or guidebook since it has the potential to fail, but it can be extremely helpful when route-finding.  If you are hiking up mountains, a GPS will display your elevation and how far you have traveled—both great pieces of information to have. 

Sometimes time at camp can go slowly, but a book or a deck of cards will help the time pass more quickly.

Trekking poles are good to have if you are have bad knees or if you just want to distribute weight off of your feet.  These can be very helpful when crossing a stream without a bridge or when hiking down a trail. 

For the Checklist:

  • GPS
  • Book
  • Cards
  • Trekking Poles

Read these other helpful articles to help you create a backpacking checklist: