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  • Writer's pictureapriladventuring

Backpacking Gear 🥾

Updated: 4 days ago

Let's talk backpacking gear!

Starting out can be a intimidating. Gear prices add up quickly and it's hard to know where to begin. Remember that all you truly need is a backpack, a sleep system (sleeping bag or quilt, sleeping pad, pillow if you want), and a shelter (tent, tarp, hammock). The rest is for fun and comfort!

I recommend deciding on your budget, then picking out the items you'll want to bring. Selecting a backpack last means you'll already know what size to go for based on the amount and size of the items you'll be packing.

These are all items I have used and loved. I've updated my gear over the years and have gone through multiple versions of just about everything.

I hope this gives you some inspiration for where to start. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions as you're setting out on your backpacking journey!

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Table of Contents:


This is my all-around favorite backpack for trips longer than one night. It fits all the essentials and then some while remaining super comfortable and supportive. I love the hip pockets for snacks and the extra large water bottle sleeves on either side.

This backpack is perfect for overnight trips where you don't need to carry as many items. I've kept this as a secondary backpack to loan to friends on trips where we can share the load of carrying everything. It's a great starter backpack that will hold all your essentials.


This has been my go-to backpacking tent since I got it years ago. It's super lightweight, packs down small, and is easy to set up by myself. Although it's a two-person tent, it's more comfortable for one. Usually I take it out solo and it perfectly fits my sleeping setup, my dog, and my backpack inside.

This was the first tent I bought when I was on a tighter budget. This is a great option for two people and much more spacious than backpacking tents will be. I'd recommend this tent more for car/trailhead camping since it's a bit heavier at 5 lbs.

Sleeping Bags

This is the sleeping bag that comes with me on 90% of my trips. It's super warm, packs down really well, and has a smooth zipper. I love the hood which holds my camp pillow in place throughout the night. This will hold you over easily in three seasons and can get you through winter with the right layers!

This was my first sleeping bag and great for those on a budget that don't need anything crazy insulated just yet. This bag kept me warm through temperatures down into the 50's, but anything colder required lots of layers or another blanket (I'm a super cold sleeper).

Not a sleeping bag, but this pillow was a serious game-changer for my nights out in the wild! It takes up nearly no space in my backpack, fits into my sleeping bag's hood, and provides just the right amount of support for my head. I keep it a little under-inflated for max comfort.

Sleeping Pads

Warm, compact, lightweight. This sleeping pad has followed me into the backcountry countless times and was a big improvement over the cheaper versions I've owned. It does make a crinkly sound that takes some time to get used to, but I love it for its comfort and warmth.

Another great budget option. This was my first inflatable sleeping pad and it was surprisingly comfortable for the price. It did end up getting a hole, but it comes with a patch kit! This is a good choice if you're just getting started or don't plan on camping very often.

Camp Kitchen

This stove has been with me since the beginning of my backpacking journey after being recommended by an REI employee. It's extremely compact and easy to use. It's reasonably sturdy with any pots and pans I've used on it. Definitely a staple for backpacking to boil water for that blissful morning cup of coffee.

I looove this set for backpacking! It comes on every trip and is perfect for two people. It includes a pot with lid, two insulated cups with lids, two bowls, two sporks, and a carrying/washing case. Everything fits together with space for a small fuel canister and stove!

I bring a tiny bottle of this soap with me for cleaning dishes and anything else that needs more than a rinse. It's super concentrated and biodegradable -- just remember to properly dispose of your waste water in a cathole at least 200 feet away from any water source!

Other Essentials

I don't often need a physical filter, but when I do this is the one I bring. I love that gravity does the work for me and it's a fairly large reservoir. I keep this hanging on a tree at camp for filling bottles, cooking, and cleaning up.

Since I'm in bear country often, bringing a bear can is a must. I use a slightly smaller size than this one (the BV450) which has been just enough space for a few days in the backcountry. It can be tricky to open with cold fingers in the morning, but I find this easier than needing to string up a bear bag.

A necessity for me in the backcountry is a portable charger. I use this one from Anker, which can fully charge a phone up to 5 times! This has always been enough for me to charge my phone, headlamp, GoPro, and any other electronics. It has covered me and one other person for multiple days. The peace of mind is worth the weight for me, though some may opt for a smaller bank.

What's camping without a campfire? Growing up in the PNW, it wasn't unusual for camp to be pretty soggy. When there's no dry kindling and the fire ring is practically a puddle, having some firestarters on hand is a life saver. I pop a few of these into a ziploc bag before any trips that I plan to have a campfire.

Speaking of making fires, I like to bring a fuel-less lighter to get those campfires going. I like this electric lighter because it's rechargeable and the long flexible neck makes it easy to light under piles of wood and kindling. There's also a safety on/off switch to prevent it from lighting when you don't want it to.

Not a necessity, but a super fun luxury item to bring backpacking. These lights weight next to nothing and are powered via USB. These almost always come with me! They make camp so much cozier, especially in areas where campfires aren't allowed.

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