List: Overnight Backpacking Gear

There’s a first time for everything

I sometimes get asked to speak about backpacking at my local REI. It’s great meeting beginners and seasoned backpackers alike, and there are always some great questions at the end. The downside is that there’s never enough time to answer all the questions, or give greater detail. This post is in response to a question I get asked nearly every time: “What should I take (specifically) on my first overnight trip?”

While each trip is different, based on terrain, weather, and the number of people going, there are things I take with me each time. A lot of this may be considered excess, but I’m willing to exchange a lighter pack for more comfort items when it’s just a night or two. Remember, a lot of these items can be shared between two or even three people, which makes the weight lighter for each person. And you don’t have to spend $1,000 to go on your first trip – use whatever gear you already have (school backpacks included) and try to borrow the rest. A titanium spork is awesome, but a plastic fork from a fast-food restaurant will work for a short trip. Think outside the box.

Here’s a list of the gear I normally take (first column is generic, second column is the specific gear I own or use). As always, make sure you have a thorough understanding of the hike you will be doing, the forecasted weather and temperatures, and your group’s safety plans before setting out.

Gear My gear
Backpack Osprey Aura 50
Shelter Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 tent 

Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 footprint

Sleeping (bags, liner, pads, pillow) Winter: REI Co-op Joule 21 Sleeping Bag

Summer: Mountain Hardwear Lamina 45 Sleeping Bag

Sea to Summit Premium Silk Liner

Cocoon Hyperlight Air-Core Pillow

Thermarest Women’s NeoAir Xlite or Thermarest RidgeRest Solar

Bowl Snow Peak Multi Compact Titanium Cookset
Spork Snow Peak Titanium Spork
Water bottle/carrier MSR Hydromedary Bag, 2.5 Liter

Platypus SoftBottle Water Bottle with DuoLock Cap – 34 fl. oz.

Headlamp (and extra batteries!) Black Diamond Cosmo Headlamp
Stuff sacks Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Stuff Sack

Granite Gear Drysack 18L

Trekking poles Black Diamond Trail Women’s Trekking Poles
Stove and fuel MSR PocketRocket Backpacking Stove

MSR IsoPro 4 oz fuel

Water treatment  Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter System

Sawyer Fast Fill Hydration Pack Adapter Kit

Aquamira Water Treatment 1 oz. drops

Pocket knife Swiss army classic knife
Lighter/matches Cheap bright-colored lighter and UCO Survival Matches
Bear bag rope PMI 3mm Utility Cord 50 ft

Metolius FS Mini II Carabiner

Pack cover REI Co-op Duck’s Back Rain Cover – 60 Liters
Rain jacket Mountain Hardwear Plasmic Ion Rain Jacket
Pants/shorts Prana Sage Convertible pant
Baselayers – top and bottom Icebreaker Merino 260 Top Long Sleeve Half-Zip

Women’s NTS Mid 250 Pattern Bottoms

Bandana/buff Buff
Hat/beanie Rab Gradient Beanie
Camp shoes The North Face Base Camp Lite Skimmers camp shoes  (until I lost them… then I just used flipflops)
Hiking boots/trail runners Boots: Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Boot

Runners: La Sportiva Ultra Raptor Trail-Running shoes

Superfeet Green insoles

Socks Injinji Liner Crew Socks

Darn Tough Micro Crew Cushion Sock

Jacket The North Face Thermoball Full Zip Jacket
Tank top Ex Officio Give-N-Go Shelf Bra Camisole
Gaiters Dirty Girl Gaiters

Snow: Rocky Mountain Low Gaiters

Coffee: Mug and filter GSI Infinity Backpacker Mug

GSI Ultralight Java Drip

GermX, toilet paper, plastic bag (for trash), ear plugs, sunscreen, bug spray, toothbrush, toothpaste, medicines/first aid kit, cell phone Food: snacks, just-add-water meals, etc. See my food for the AT in my trail food post.

If you aren’t familiar with the area, take along a compass and a map.

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