Backpacking Essentials: Checklist for Packing

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The only way to avoid forgetting things is to make and use a checklist. Not every trip will require the same things. It depends on who’s going, how long you will be in the wilderness, what time of year it is, and other things. Your checklist should include everything you might want. Simply ignore the things that are not appropriate for your present trip. Until you develop your own checklist, use the one below. Regarding each item, ask yourself, “Can I do without it?” Be ruthless.

To wear or carry in a readily accessible place:

  • hat or cap
  • dark glasses
  • shirt
  • pants
  • belt
  • boots
  • socks
  • sunscreen
  • bandana
  • underwear
  • maps
  • compass
  • waterproof matches
  • toilet paper
  • watch
  • knife
  • insect repellent
  • lip balm
  • first-aid kit
  • rain garment
  • flashlight
  • whistle
  • pencil and paper (for leaving notes)
  • drinking cup
  • water bottle
  • fishing license
  • wilderness permit
  • camera and film
  • one quarter
  • quick-energy food
  • water purifier

To carry in the pack:

  • tent or tarp
  • sleeping bag
  • ground sheet
  • air mattress or pad pillowcase
  • extra shirt extra pants extra underwear extra socks jacket, sweater or vest camp shoes or moccasins gloves
  • knit cap or balaclava extra bandanas duct tape sewing kit
  • *extra prescription glasses extra flashlight batteries
  • and bulb
  • braided nylon cord collapsible plastic bucket plastic bags—assorted
  • rubber bands candle
  • towel food cooking gear
  • *grate plastic bowl spoon
  • *fishing tackle
  • *book
  • *camera equipment
  • *musical instrument
  • *binoculars
  • toothbrush toothpaste or powder comb or brush


To do before you leave home (depending)

  • write for fire permit write for wilderness permit get latest road maps
  • stop newspaper delivery
  • give itinerary to friend, with phone number of area administrators arrange for someone to take in your mail
  • check money and credit-card supplies
  • take one last look around house for what you forget to pack

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