If you are just getting into backpacking, here is a list of essentials you need. Every person will have variations of their own packing list depending on the destination, current conditions, their abilities and the size of the group. Bear in mind your pack carries all of your essentials for the trip, so choose with care.
A general rule of thumb when choosing clothes for outdoor activities is to avoid cotton. It takes a long time to dry, which can lead to blisters and skin irritation or even hypothermia if the conditions are cold and wet. Synthetic base layers are great at wicking sweat and drying quickly.
Active layers worn over the base layers should be comfy and breathable. A fleece jacket can provide good insulation and keep you warm, even when wet. Meanwhile, a rain jacket comes handy if you are traveling somewhere during the rainy season. A lightweight nylon windbreaker is both water-resistant and breathable.
If you are traveling somewhere colder, you might consider a lightweight down jacket. It can be a stand-alone insulation jacket on a cold day or it can be worn under your shell in place of a standard mid-layer. It has less weight and bulk compared to fleece, and you get much more insulation out of a relative thin layer of down.
A good pair of hiking shoes are essential when you carry an additional 30L on your body. Your hiking boots should be proper fitting and supportive. Depending your destination, you should also consider whether you want your boots to be waterproof.
A pack with 40-50L capacity is generally recommended for overnight trips. For longer trips, a pack with a 60L capacity or more is recommended.
The most important factor or a backpack is a good fit. A properly fitting backpack allows you to carry most of the weight on your hips and lower body, sparing the easily fatigued muscles of the shoulders and back.
A lightweight, three-season tent is ideal for most circumstances. You want to find a tent that will fit your needs and your style of backpacking, depending how many people you are packing with and how spacious you want your tent to be. Generally, the lighter they are, the less spacious they are.
Sleeping bag and sleeping pad
Nighttime temperature can vary dramatically depending on weather and seasons. A sleeping bag rated to 20 degrees is recommended for all- purpose use.
Sleeping bags are available both in both down and synthetic builds. Down sleeping bags offer better worth-to-weight ratio, and will last for many years with proper care. However, untreated down can lose its insulating ability when wet, which can be a concern during long rainy spells. Synthetic-fill sleeping bags, on the other hand, retain their insulating abilities even when wet and are cheaper. However, they also weigh more and are less compressible.
- Stove and fuel
- Kitchen supplies
- Plenty of food
- Water bottles and water-treatment supplies
- Emergency and hygiene supplies
- Small repair kit