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    The Ultimate Backpacking Guide: Everything You'll Need

    by Annabelle Yorke Published: June 26, 2023 · Last Updated: June 26, 2023

    The Ultimate Backpacking Guide: Everything You'll Need

    Summer is upon us, and with it all those fun backpacking trips you've been waiting for. Whether you're a seasoned expert or a backpacking newbie, you'll want to be prepared for your trip this summer!

    That's why we've gathered the ultimate checklist (along with a few backpacking tips from professionals) so you are uber-prepared.

    But before we dive in - why go backpacking? You might be skeptical (isn't normal camping easier & less stressful?) Here's why we think you should try backpacking this summer:

    Men Sitting At Campfire

    Why Backpacking is Superior

    Okay, granted if you have kids or a family you're bringing camping with you, backpacking might not be your best option. Plus, if you have any health conditions that impact your ability to exercise, proceed with caution. But if you're looking for a fun solo mission or camping trip with friends / your spouse, we think you'll love backpacking. Here's why:

    Less Temptation to Scroll

    When you go backpacking, you're forced to explore and move through the wilderness all day - so there's no excuse to sit around camp or in your tent flicking through your phone.

    More Exercise

    Backpacking comes with a lot of exercise - you'll be hiking all day, after all. You'll stay active and alert while you're on the go.

    You Get to See More Nature

    When you hike all day, you get to see a lot more of the wilderness than you would if you stayed in a stagnant camping spot. Plus, your campsite constantly changes, which is exciting and adventurous.

    An Added Challenge

    Backpacking is definitely more of a challenge than typical camping, but sometimes a challenge is what we need. Challenging yourself in the wilderness (while staying safe) can cause you to make even more vivid and impactful memories.

    Tall Guys Wearing Tall Shirts Camping

    Backpacking: The Ultimate Checklist

    So you've decided to go backpacking - woohoo! Before you go, make sure you have everything on this ultimate checklist:

    Find a free PDF checklist here.

    **Items with asterisks (**) next to them are optional or dependent on the time of year you're backpacking (summer or late fall for example).

    Clothing

    Cooking Supplies

    ❐ 1 Outfit for Each Day
    ❐ Backpacking stove & fuel

    ❐ Warm Pullover Sweatshirt

    ❐ Small lighter

    ❐ Good mix of long sleeves/short sleeves and pants/shorts

    ❐ Small cooking pot with lid

    ❐ Hiking boots

    ❐ Collapsable bowls

    ❐ Ball cap / Beanie (or both! Bring your beanie even if it's warm outside to keep your ears warm through the night)

    ❐ Multi-purpose eating utensils

    ❐ Thick hiking socks & Under garments (+ extra pairs)

    ❐ Gallon Ziploc Bags (one on hand for garbage should be enough)

    ❐ Heavy duty winter jacket & windbreaker (even in summer, nights in the mountains can get cold)

    ❐ Metal/plastic mug (if you need that morning coffee;)

    ❐ Camp shoes (sandals, Crocs, HeyDudes, etc.)

    Quick-dry towel & washcloth

    ❐ Swimsuit + pack towel**

    ❐ Food container or sack (so bears don't smell your food)

    Sleeping System

    Entertainment

    ❐ Sleeping bag + stuff sack (make sure it's rated to keep you warm enough!)
    ❐ Kindle / novel
    ❐ Sleeping mat**
    ❐ Journal / Bible / Pen
    ❐ Compressible Pillow**
    ❐ Airpods / Headphones
    ❐ Blanket (if you can fit it!)**
    ❐ Games (deck of cards or dice if you're backpacking with friends)

    Toiletries

    Shelter

    ❐ Toilet paper & wipes (plus a way to pack it out, a sealed bag works)
    ❐ Portable, lightweight tent
    ❐ Shampoo + biodegradable soap (if you plan on backpacking for more than a few days)**
    ❐ Rainfly, tentpoles, guylines, & stakes
    ❐ Hair brush & hair ties**
    Tent footprint**

    ❐ Sunscreen & deodorant

    Food

    ❐ Toothbrush + toothpaste
    ❐ Meals (shoot for 2,500-3,500 calories a day to replenish the calories you'll burn backpacking)
    ❐ Hand santitizer
    ❐ 1 Extra day's supply of food
    ❐ Menstrual products**
    ❐ Snacks
    Sanitation trowel
    ❐ Instant coffee**
    ❐ Medications / ibuprofin
    ❐ Alcohol (only in a plastic bottle or flask so there's no waste)**
    ❐ Contacts + contact solution**
    ❐ Energy Drinks**

    Water Treatment

    Emergency

    ❐ Water bottle / reservoir
    First aid kit
    Whistle
    Water treatment (filter/purifier or chemical treatment)
    Stormproof matches and a small fire starter kit
    ❐ Extra chlorine dioxide water treatment for emergencies
    ❐ Duct tape & superglue
    ❐ Map your route to stay near a consistent water source
    ❐ Make sure all your medical information is updated on your phone (how to set up Apple Medical ID)

    Extras (The Stuff You Always Forget But Don't Want To...)

    ❐ Emergency Blanket

    ❐ Lip balm (you always need it)
    ❐ Itineraries (1 or 2 left with friends/family, 1 left under seat in car)

    ❐ Pocket knife / multitool

    Navigation

    ❐ Headlamp or flashlight
    ❐ Map
    ❐ Extra batteries for flashlight, extra lighter
    ❐ Compass
    ❐ Bug repellent
    ❐ Phone (keep on airplane mode or low power mode to conserve energy, & only use if absolutely needed)
    ❐ Tweezers (incredibly handy if you get a splinter)
    ❐ Watch
    ❐ Ear plugs / eye mask (for those of us who need it quiet & dark to fall asleep)**
    ❐ Backpacking permits
    ❐ Bandana + sunglasses
    ❐ Check current weather & consult the ranger station before your trip to check conditions
    ❐ Make sure you clip nails, cut hair, trim beard, etc. before your trip
    Satellite Messenger for remote locations
    ❐ Bear spray

    Leave in Your Car

    ❐ Lightweight, portable hammock**
    ❐ Gallon of water, non-perishable snacks
    ❐ Cash, credit card, ID, insurance cards
    ❐ Parking pass
    ❐ Power bank & charging cords
    ❐ Extra towel / set of clothes
    ❐ Camera**
    ❐ Itinerary (mentioned above)

     

    Tall Guys Hiking Through Forest

    9 Backpacking Tips from Backpacking Gurus

    Now that you have everything you need before your backpacking trip, here are a few parting tips that will help you on your journey:

    1. Pack Creative Meals

    You don't have to settle for freeze dried meals if you don't want to! If you're backpacking trip is supposed to be fun, you might as well make the meals awesome too (and it's not too difficult). Check out these creative backpacking meal ideas to get your wheels turning!

    2. It's Not a Race

    Just because you're backpacking doesn't mean you have to rigorously hike the entire day. Feel free to take your time and enjoy the view! Go at your pace - that might be slow or fast and thats OK. Take a hammock nap mid-day, have a slow morning, take a (well-navigated) detour along a pretty trail.

    3. If It's Your First Time, Travel With Someone Who's Backpacked Before

    It's handy to have someone with experience along with you. They'll know the common pitfalls, rookie mistakes, and how to navigate well. If you can, plan a trip with them first.

    4. Have a Detailed Game Plan

    Before your trip, decide exactly which trail you'll hike, how long you'll be backpacking, and where you will find your water source. Like we mentioned in our checklist, write an itinerary to share with a friend and keep in your car in case of emergencies (then stick to it). Make sure you're aware of the forecast and your plan if weather turns sour. It's so important to be prepared when you backpack - don't take the "wing it" route.

    5. Condition for Your Trip

    Keep in mind, your backpack will likely weigh 30+ lbs., and you'll be hiking many miles a day (not to mention gaining elevation) on your backpacking trip. Make sure your body can handle it. Some simple cardio and strength training beforehand will prepare you for the physical toll.

    Tall Guys Sitting Near Campfire

    6. Don't Pack Too Much

    We know our checklist above is extensive, but make sure you don't pack too much for your backpacking trip. Aim to keep your backpack in the 20-35lbs. range (any heavier, and you'll get really weighed down as you hike). Don't skimp on the essentials, but don't pack too much - it's a balance.

    7. Re-Wear Your Clothing

    If you want to save weight, try re-wearing your clothes between days. It might seem gross at first, but it's actually very normal! A great strategy is to bring fresh underwear and socks for each day so wearing the same outfit twice doesn't feel quite as gross.

    8. Take Care of the Wilderness

    Anything you bring into the wilderness goes back out with you (leave no trace). Make sure to camp, cook, clean, and use the restroom at least 200 feet from the trail and any water sources. It's also important to take care of yourself as you hike. Change your socks if they get wet - wet socks can cause blisters more easily. If you're uncomfortable with the idea of not showering multiple days in a row, try washing your face each morning instead.

    9. Use a Scale

    If you're having trouble shaving weight from your backpacking load, grab a scale and measure each individual item you're carrying. This will reveal which items take up more weight than others, so you can plan a better strategy for bringing what you need without carrying too much.

    Hopefully this ultimate guide prepares and educates you for your upcoming backpacking trip! Have fun, stay safe, and make incredible memories in the wilderness. You'll have a blast.

    Here's a free PDF checklist to use as you pack!

    Free PDF Checklist Backpacking Packing Guide

    If you're looking for any other backpacking resources, check out our other articles below:

    13 Best Camping Spots in the United States

    Camping Hacks You'll Want to Steal for Summer 2023

    Best Bucket List Ideas for Tall Guys in 2023

    Before you go, make sure to check out our favorite Redwood Tall Outfitters summer essentials - great for camping, summer hikes, and everything in between!

    Tall Guy Wearing Tall Jacket

    ^^ Tall guys need to stay warm in the woods too. Our Tall Full Zip Jacket is warm, comfortable, and flattering - all paired with a smooth zipper and perfectly sized hood. Perfect for roasting marshmallows under the stars! Order here.

    Tall Guy Wearing Tall Short Sleeve

    ^^ Nothing beats a classic tee, and you need to stay cool on these summer afternoons. Our Tall T-Shirts are you perfect option! Order here.

    Tall Man Wearing Tall Long Sleeve Shirt

    ^^ And now for the in-between: the Tall Long Sleeve you've been looking for. Warm & protective, yet breathable and comfortable, and tailored to fit you. Order yours here!

    Annabelle Yorke
    Annabelle Yorke


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