I bet I have 40-75 items in my backpack when I go backpacking.

When I first started teaching Backpacking 101 seminars, I expected to talk the first 45 minutes and then field questions the last 15 just like I did in all of my other seminars. But I soon found out that the attendees want to hear the instruction the first 10 to 15 minutes and then go over what gear they’ll need. Later on I’m going to run one or two backpacking articles but, today, I’ll list out what I consider some items that you’ll want to pack. When possible, I’ll list which manufacturer(s) has tested out well for me.

I’m going to list out items with a short description. This way we can save space plus I can cram in more items.

  • Pack — I’m old school. I still use an old external frame Kelty. But the younger crowd likes an internal frame. And they do conform to your body better and not sway like an external frame pack.
  • Tent — I used an Alps Mountaineering Chaos 2 tent this week and my daughter used the Meramac 2 tent. They’re nice. They have two doors AND, two vestibules in which you can leave wet gear.
  • Sleeping bag — According to how cold you get. This week we had the Alps Crescent Lake 20 mummy bags. If that is too warm for where you’re camping, get their Blue Springs 35.
  • Sleeping pads — You’ll want a pad. We live in the Rocky Mountains! The Alps Nimble pad is about 4 inches tall. You’ll only need one pad.
  • Chair — Nice so you don’t have to set in the dirt while eating or setting around the fire. Ten times more relaxing. I found one in the middle of the road called an Alite Mayfly.
  • XGO base wear — Light weight and good for cool mornings and to sleep in.
  • Boots — I like the Irish Setter VaprTrek 5-inch hiking boots. You’ll want a lightweight durable boot.
  • Sandals — I take a pair of Chaco sandals to give my feet a break and to wade in rivers.
  • Socks — Wear good hiking socks and you’ll never regret it.
  • Rain gear — We got rained on two days this week on our backpacking trip. Take something like the Frogg Togg lightweight, easily packable top.
  • Straps — To secure gear to your backpack.
  • Cooking utensils — Small aluminum coffee pot, Army/Boy Scout mess kit, plastic eating utensils sold at sporting stores. I like to take a plastic coffee cup.
  • Paper towels — I always take half a roll. Works for TP, kindling to start a fire and to wash utensils.
  • Fire gear — Take a few cheap Bic lighters, waterproof matches and some Trioxane fire bars.
  • String — Always handy.
  • Mouse trap — The little vermin try to confiscate your food.
  • Food — I eat flavored oatmeal in the morning (add fresh huckleberries), PBJ sandwiches for lunch and splurge and eat Mountain House MREs for supper. For coffee, I use motel packs.
  • Flashlight — I take a good one and a cheap one to read in the tent/change clothes etc. Plus, one may break.
  • Water — I use Aquimira filtered water bottles. That way you don’t have to lug around water.
  • Mesh bag — Use to hang your food in a tree.
  • Camera — You’ll be in cool country and want pics.
  • Adventure medical kits — Moleskin and the small roll of duct tape to patch tents, tent poles etc. Also take some Bactroban for cuts and adhesive wrap and Band-Aids. Uncle Ben’s tick repellent.
  • Knife — You’ll use a knife constantly. I like the Spyderco locking blade folders.
  • Nylon zip-off leg pants or shorts. They dry easy.
  • Blue Lizard sunscreen
  • Maps — MyTopoMaps makes the best maps. You can get one specific for your area, as large/small as you desire.
  • Compass — Always have two.

As you backpack you’ll add/subtract items from this list, but this should get you started. Have fun.

Tom Claycomb lives in Idaho and has outdoors columns in newspapers in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana. He also writes for various outdoors magazines and teaches outdoors seminars at stores like Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Bass Pro Shop.