How To Pack a Camping Backpack For Easy Access To The Essentials

If you plan on going camping and it’s your first time, you may feel overwhelmed by the preparation needed to have everything, right? The stress of possibly forgetting an essential item can sometimes be too much. Don’t worry; we have exactly what you need!

We’ll offer you our helpful backpacking packing list, so you have the basics adapted for most hiking trips, and you’ll learn how to pack a camping backpack with the essentials for a pleasant, stress free experience; who said the outdoors had to be tough?

You’ll also find various tips and tricks to help you get started and not lose sight of the most crucial security measures to consider for a worry-free trip, all of that with a single camping backpack!

backpacking packing list

Table of contents


Your Backpack Packing List For The Essentials

Here are a few of the must-have items to pack into your camping backpack.

Storage

  • Backpack
  • Ziploc bags for garbage disposal
  • Waterproof stuff sack

Shelter

  • Tent
  • Rainfly
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Pillow (or stuff sack)
  • Quick-dry towel

Camp Kitchen

  • Stove and fuel
  • Cookpot and lid
  • Lighter
  • Campfire kettle
  • Basic cutlery
  • Plate, bowl and cup
  • Topographic map
  • Waterproof map bag
  • Compass
  • Watch
  • Phone with GPS phone app and downloaded maps
  • Power bank + charging cords
  • Waterproof phone case
  • Headlamp
  • Flashlights + spare batteries
  • Trek poles

Emergency

  • Whistle
  • Bear spray (if applicable to your trip)
  • Bug spray
  • Duct tape
  • Glue
  • Stormproof matches or fire starter kit
  • Backup water treatment pills
  • First-Aid kit
  • Rope
  • Flare gun

Food

  • Two to four water bottles or a hydration pack
  • Water treatment
  • Pre-packed meals (always pack at least an extra day’s worth of food)
  • Survival snacks
  • Food bag

Clothing

  • Rain jacket
  • Down jacket
  • Warm gloves
  • Fleece hat
  • Hiking pants
  • Running shorts
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Short sleeve shirt
  • Underwear
  • Socks (pairs for hiking and warm wool pairs for camping)
  • Sunglasses
  • Trail running shoes or boots

Personal Care

  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Toilet paper and wipes with a sealable bag
  • Toothbrush and paste
  • Bug repellant
  • Meds and vitamins 
backpacking packing list

How To Pack A Backpacking Pack: Tips & Tricks

Now that we know what the essentials are, let’s take a look at some tips for packing your backpack so that you don’t end up going camping with 10 different bags.

Plan Ahead

Planning every aspect of your trip is the most important part of backpacking. You need to know where you’re going, which implies the area’s topology, weather, wildlife, known routes, and more, depending on the area you’re visiting. 

You’ll be in the wilderness, so you need to know everything you can to have the resources at hand, these will include most of the items in our list, but you may have to add extra items if you go to a snowy area for instance.

Pack Light

When you go backpacking, every ounce counts because you’ll have to carry it for the entirety of your trip. The bag itself should be functional but not too heavy so you can carry it comfortably. Choose a backpack with lots of space that also has comfortable padded shoulder straps and a waist strap for added comfort. When you pack a camping backpack, you must really focus on the essential items you’ll need. 

Another critical aspect of preparing your backpack is folding and optimizing the space at your disposal, and there are numerous tutorials on YouTube on how to pack a hiking backpack to optimize the space.

Choose Your Clothing Accordingly

Your clothing can change drastically depending on the area you’re visiting. If you decide to go to a mountain where the temperature can go down pretty fast, it’s best to pack clothes and equipment that will help you stay warm. You must also pay close attention to the weather before going and planning your itinerary and always take some rain equipment if the weather turns unexpectedly. 

Conserving Food

When you pack your food, you need to plan everything you’re going to need for the number of days you’ll be camping. You will need to count the calories you’re going to need for each day, depending on your BMI. Your food should be stored in sealable bags to avoid spoiling it. Always pack a day’s worth of extra food in case of emergencies.

Contact the Local Authorities

We feel the need to remind you that while this kind of trip is supposed to be all fun and games, it’s easy to get lost or injure yourself, and that’s why you should make sure to never go on this kind of trip alone (even experienced hikers can get into trouble quickly). 

Moreover, depending on where you live, you may need a backpacking permit. You’ll also need to contact the concerned ranger station to plan your trip on the authorized itinerary and learn more about the regulations that apply.

Always Have a First-Aid Kit Ready

This is an essential thing to carry on any trip. You’ll need band-aids of various sizes, antibiotics, gauze pads, latex gloves, sanitizer, tweezers, antidiarrheal, and antihistamines. There are other items you can add to your first-aid kit depending on your specific needs, and you can also find kits ready to use to make things easier.

Learn All You Can About the Area

The worst thing to do is to go head first in the wilderness without knowing what to expect (look how it turned out for Christopher McCandless). That’s why we mentioned calling the ranger station earlier, as they can give you precious information on the terrain and the wildlife you may encounter. 

You’ll also be aware of the trails you can safely explore and those which should be avoided. Learning about a few survival techniques that apply to this area can also really come in handy, so we also recommend learning about the flora because there are plants to avoid and others that can really benefit you in case of an emergency.

Final Thoughts

With that we’ve shared all the essentials you’ll need for any camping or hiking trip. Make sure to check that you have everything, and that you have notified and checked-in with the local authorities while planning your trip and when taking it. Nature, while beautiful, can be dangerous so make sure to plan your trip in advance to avoid any surprises.

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