The Ultimate Backpacking Checklist

Let’s face it. Modern life can be overwhelming, and sometimes you just want to get away from it all. Like, really far away. Like, so far away that the government can’t track you remotely via your mobile device, and the screams of potential, innocent victims can’t be heard amidst the towering pines and mountain spires of the hinterlands. If you’re on the hunt for some true wilderness R&R, my ultimate packing checklist for backpackers will set you off on the right foot.

  • Essentials:
    • Backpack (50L or larger to hold everything)
    • Tent (lightweight, preferably under 5 lbs. for 2 people)
    • Sleeping pad (to stay comfy and warm)
    • Sleeping bag (ditto the sleeping pad)


  • Kitchen Set-Up:
    • Stove + Fuel (MSR makes a great tiny stove)
    • Lighter (gotta light that stove somehow and possibly burn any evidence)
    • Pot (to boil water in)
    • Bowl (if you don’t want to eat out of the pot like a maniac)
    • Mug (because you’re a classy tea drinker unlike that skag, Janet, from the office)
    • Spork (a fork and a spoon weigh too much separately)


  • Assorted Sundries:
    • Sunscreen (to avoid awkward tan lines)
    • Bug spray (unless you like looking like you’ve concocted the plague)
    • Repair kit + Cord (useful if you want to bind Janet’s hands behind a tree while she watches you slowly sharpen your Swiss Army knife)
    • First aid kit (be sure to pack tape, gauze, and pain killers!)
    • Cell phone (switched off or onto airplane mode so that it doesn’t ping any cell towers or secretly record you when you eat a chocolate cupcake 6 inches away from Janet’s salivating mouth, because how dare she take the last of the Friday birthday treats when she knew you were having a rough day.)
    • Mittens (to keep your fingers warm and dexterous)
    • Leatherman or Pocket knife (to stab Janet in the back the way she did to you a month ago when she gave your office crush, Blaine, the IT guy, a blow job in the supply closet on her lunch break, even though she said she was going to Panera for a blueberry scone and a kale salad)
    • Headlamp (so you can see where you’re going when you tirelessly drag Janet’s body deep into the woods)
    • Shovel (to bury your poop but also to dig a shallow grave for that trilobite, Janet, who had the gall to drink the last of the coffee the Thursday before Labor Day)
    • Bear spray (the bears can’t narc on you to the cops if they never find the body)
    • Hand sanitizer (to clean the sour remains of Janet’s cold, reptilian blood off your hands when you return to your tent under the full moon and cackle about how she can never blare Drake from inside her cubicle ever again.)
    • Star chart/Night sky identifier (so you can ceremoniously select and name a new constellation on this, your most triumphant eve, in which Persephone would be proud)
    • Deck of cards (to play so that you don’t get bored or lonely when you inevitably can’t sleep the rest of the night)
    • Inflatable camping pillow (so that you don’t get a crick in your neck)
    • Trekking poles (for added comfort on the morning hike out)
    • Clif bars (to stay nourished and ward off hanger)
    • Camera (in case you want to snap a selfie with some pretty wildflowers!)

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2 thoughts on “The Ultimate Backpacking Checklist

  1. Nomadosauras says:

    Wow! This is an exhaustive list to say the least!
    I have done a number of single day and a couple of multi-day treks but not something like a week long. This will come in handy while preparing for one! Great job penning this down.

    • Emily Pennington (BrazenBackpacker) says:

      Did you get to the end where things get weird and the real story unfolds? 😉
      That being said, yes, this is actually a packing list as well! Minus food and clothes.

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