Backpacking Checklist

There’s nothing worse than getting ready to set up camp and realising that you’ve forgotten the tent pole bag or the fuel canister or your sleeping pad or the camera (when wildlife walks through your campsite).

Keep life simple with a checklist and you’ll never have to spend a night huddled under a tarp, eating GORP for supper, or lying awake all night as the rocks dig deep into your body. 

Don't forget the camera! (Photo: M.Kopp)

Here’s what you need to turn your backpacking trip into a success:

To pack & sleep:

  • Backpack (with pack cover)
  • Tent/poles/pegs/ground sheet
  • Sleeping pad
  • Sleeping bag

To find your way:

  • Map
  • Compass
  • Headlamp

To eat & drink:

  • Nylon stuff sack (1 or 2 depending on length of trip) for hanging food
  • 6 m of thin rope (for hanging food)
  • Pocket knife
  • Food
  • Stove/fuel
  • Cook pots
  • Cup/spoon/ bowl
  • Cooking utensils
  • Lighter (or matches in waterproof container)
  • Water bottle
  • Water filter or purification tablets

To stay warm & dry:

  • Waterproof jacket
  • Hiking boots  
  • Socks  (min. 2 pair)
  • Underwear  
  • One quick-dry long sleeve shirt
  • One quick-dry short sleeve shirt
  • Pants (zip-off, two pair, quick-dry)
  • Fleece Jacket
  • Sun hat
  • Toque
  • Gloves
  • Long underwear

To be legit & safe:

  • Permits/license
  • Emergency contact plan (who, what, where, when, how)

To be healthy & clean:

  • First aid kit
  • Toothbrush/paste
  • Toilet paper
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Personal Medication


  • Waterproof pants
  • Gaiters
  • Umbrella
  • Camp shoes/sandals
  • Biodegradable soap
  • Dishwashing Cloth
  • Face Cloth
  • Books
  • Binoculars
  • Cards/Dice
  • Pen/paper
  • Camera/batteries
  • Trowel
  • Hiking poles
  • Spare fly (for cooking area shelter)

A Few Extra Tips:

  • Keep the weight down by bringing only what you need (a partial roll of TP; a travel-size container of toothpaste; a sample size bottle of soap). 
  • If you regularly hike with a dog, add their food, leash, packs… 
  • Put a personalized, one-page checklist like this in your computer’s word program; it allows for quick updating and printing.

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