Ultralight Backpacking Checklist: Essentials Every Backpacker Needs

Wondering what you need for a hiking and backpacking trip? When planning an overnight hiking and backpacking or tackling a multi-day adventure on an established route so you should use this ultimate backpacking checklist.

Ultralight Backpacking Checklist

1. Hiking System

  • Backpack
  • Pack cover
  • Trekking poles

2. Survival Essentials:

  • Tent, tarp, bivy or hammock
  • Guylines and stakes (if needed)
  • Insect mesh for hammock (if needed)
  • Whistle Knife or Multi-tool 
  • Fire starting equipment lighter, waterproof matches
  • Map (paper! Not GPS only)
  • Compass Headlamp with fresh batteries
  • Pocket knife
  • Large garbage bag

Read More: Wilderness survival skill: How to survive in the wild

3. Navigation:

  • Map (with protective case)
  • Compass (with signal mirror if possible)
  • GPS (optional)
  • Altimeter (optional)
  • Route description
  • Permits

4. Sleep System:

  • Lightweight tent
  • Sleeping pad or mat
  • Pillow or stuff sack (opt.)
  • Pump sack (optional)

5. Cooking System:

  • Camp stove and fuel
  • Matches / lighter (waterproof)
  • Mugs / cups (measuring cups)
  • Knife, fork,
  • Salt, pepper, spices
  • Water jug or lightweight plastic “cube”
  • Small quick-dry towel
  • Trash bags

Tips: Avoid canned foods and foods that are low in nutritional value and  don’t be afraid to pack an extra meal (or two).

6. Clothing Systems:

For Hiking:
  • Hiking boots or substantial trail running shoes (relative to terrain)
  • Synthetic or wool T-shirt (sun and bug protection)
  • Hiking or running shorts (1 pair)
  • Hiking pants (1 pair)
  • Synthetic or wool underwear (2 pairs)
  • Sports bra
  • Synthetic or socks (at least 3 pairs)
  • Sun-shielding hat or cap
  • Sun-protective and water proof  gloves (opt.)
  • Rainwear (jacket, trousers)
  • Quick-drying zip-off trousers
  • Bandana or buff
  • Thermal underwear
For Camp:
  • Long-underwear top and bottoms
  • Warm hat
  • Wool or synthetic socks for sleep
  • Puffy insulated jacket or vest
  • Sandals (opt.)
For Foul Weather:
  • Waterproof rain jacket and pants
  • Warn with waterproof gloves/mitts

7. Hygiene/Toiletries:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Dental floss ( for repairs, too)
  • Biodegradable soap
  • Sanitation trowel
  • Menstrual products
  • Women’s pee funnel
  • Women’s pee rag (1/4 cotton bandana)
  • Prescription medications
  • Toilet paper
  • Pre-moistened wipes 
  • Insect repellent (if desired)
  • Zip-top bags

8. First-Aid Kit:

When you tell a friend or family member you’re gooing on an overnight hike, one of the first pieces of friendly advice you might hear is, “Be sure to take lots of first aid equipment.” check our recommended first aid in bellow.

  • Sunscreen and Lip balm
  • Blister pads
  • Ace bandage
  • Sterile gauze pads
  • Pain-relief pill
  • Antibiotic ointment (small packet)
  • Caladryl for poison oak
  • Neosporin for cuts
  • Roller gauze
  • Safety pins
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Medical tape to affix pads
  • Any other prescribed medications you normally take

9. Repair Kit:

  • Gear-repair and/or duct tape
  • Sewing needle and nylon thread
  • Razor blade or small knife

10. Water System:

  • Water filtration system
  • Purification drops or tablets
  • Soft-sided water bottles

11. Food System:

  • Energy food (protein bars, chews gels, trail mix, freeze dried meals)
  • Do not bring canned foods, foods that require refrigeration, or foods that require excessive cooking.

12. Miscellaneous:

  • Signalling mirror
  • Trekking poles
  • Ice axe (if needed)
  • Ropes and climbing equipment (if needed)
  • Permits
  • Route description or guidebook
  • Outdoor journal and pen or pencil
  • Credit card; small amount of cash
  • Sanitation trowel
  • Mosquito net
  • Bear spray
  • Bear canister (or hang bags for food)
  • Solar power
  • Safety whistle (with neck cord)
  • Hat with insect-mesh (opt.)
  • Extra batteries (opt.)
  • Multifunction watch with altimeter
  • Headlamp or microlight with fresh batteries


Our ultimate backpacking checklist should be used as a guide only and is not intended to be a complete packing list. Any other items that you wish to pack are at your own discretion; however, you should attempt to follow our suggested luggage weight limit of under 15kg/33lbs.

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