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Backpacking List

Backpacking Principles:

Efficiency – Try to pack only the essentials and try to make each item serve the most functions for the least amount of weight or space.

Weight – Try to pack for the least amount of weight and try to make the pack weight roughly 25-30% of the hiker’s body weight.  The more it weighs, the harder it will be.

Be prepared – Even though it is more weight, carrying equipment for the unexpected conditions is worth it.  Weather forecasts are often unreliable and they don’t take into account weather patterns in the mountains – which have their own weather.  Therefore extra layers, rain gear and other items are important.

Organization – Being organized is important so that important items are not forgotten.  Also, separating gear into different waterproof bags helps keep things dry.  Therefore the backpack is just a big bag full of smaller bags.  Nothing should be totally loose within the larger pack.

Gear List – There is not one definitive or authoritative gear list for a backpacking trip.  There are many packing lists you could find online.  So much depends upon the type and location of the trip.  I find it useful to think about the type of trip that is being planned and then organize the gear by groups and listed by relating them to all the rooms in your house.

Leave No Trace – Everything we pack in we have to pack back out.  Minimize trash by minimizing containers and packing material. 

Example list:

  • Backpack
    • Internal vs External Frame
    • Size:  60-80 L
    • Adjustable waist that fits
    • Lightweight (~5 lbs)
    • Pack cover
    • Add multiple dry bags or gallon size Ziplock bags
  • Closet: 
    • change of clothes (for the number of days), extra shoes, socks etc.*
      • Pants with zip-off legs preferred
      • Synthetic t-shirt (under-armour, etc – not cotton)
      • Mid-layer shirt (long sleeves that can roll up is preferred)
      • Fleece type shirt or jacket (fleece is warm and lightweight)
      • Thermal underwear and a beanie for sleeping* (not cotton)
      • Bandanas (only item that can be cotton)
      • Hiking boots
    • Rain jacket or poncho (poncho will cover the backpack too)
    • Gloves
    • Hat and beanie
  • Bedroom:
    • Sleeping bag (with appropriate temperature rating for trip)
    • Sleeping pad (lightweight or inflatable)
    • Pillow (small or inflatable)
    • Tent (lightweight or share with another scout)**
    • Tarp (for the tent footprint, to cover backpack/gear, for a rainfly)**
  • Bathroom:
    • Toiletry bag (toothbrush, toothpaste, camp soap, etc)*
    • Small towel*
    • Medicine cabinet*
      • Prescription medicines (if applicable), Tylenol/ibuprofen
      • Sunscreen, Insect repellant, Lip balm
      • First aid kit (small personal, with moleskin)
    • Waste Management items
      • This depends on the location but a small trash bag or similar container.
  • Kitchen:
    • Pantry  (Carry about 2 pounds of food per day)*
      • Freeze dried food is lightweight (Mountain House meals)
      • Other:  Ramen, Oatmeal, etc
      • Drink powders:  Hot cocoa, Tang, etc.
      • Trail food:  trail mix, granola, Cliff bars, nuts, apple, etc.
    • Water  (Carrying water vs purifying water on the trail)
      • Carry water in water bottles (Nalgene) or a bladder
        • About 1 liter for every 2 hours of hiking
        • Average adults walk a 20 min mile (3 miles per hour)
        • Carry about 2-4 L for an overnighter
      • Water purification
        • Filtration systems (Life straw, iodine tablets, etc)
        • Keep on hand as a backup even if carrying water
    • Cooking Equipment
      • Mess kit (plate, bowl, cup, fork, spoon)
      • Stove + cookware kit (Jetboil, MalloMe, MSR)**
      • Fuel (butane fuel canisters for packing stoves)**
  • Other Camping essentials (The Garage):
    • Lighting (Headlamp preferred over flashlight)
    • Pocketknife and/or multitool
    • Matches
    • Sun glasses
    • Rope or paracord 20ft
    • Small trash bag (Large Ziplock)


*These items should be grouped together into a little ditty bag, dry bags that roll closed or plastic (Ziplock) bags so they stay organized and DRY.

**These items can be shared with other members of the group and alternate who carries them.

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© 2021 Troop 42 – Little Valley Scouts - Boy Scouts of America
© 2021 Troop 42 – Little Valley Scouts - Boy Scouts of America
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