Guy’s Backpacking Gear List

Two days or two weeks, the proper gear becomes universal and your adventures more enjoyable.


The enjoyment quotient of most outdoor adventures is directly proportionate to the level of preparedness. The two most important items in the “preparedness” category are proper gear and physical conditioning. In this article I discuss the gear that I use on all of my backpacking expeditions. The items and quantities of each listed below will work for camping trips in duration of two days up to fourteen days and beyond.

The higher the quality of your gear the better the performance and the longer it will last. When faced with a choice in choosing an item, I will always choose the lightest option and willingly pay more for a more compact and/or lighter item. There have been many occasions on trail that I have heard a companion utter the words, “damn, I guess that’s what I get for buying the cheapest ______ I could find.” Now, even if your gear breaks and you can’t fix it on the trail, if you practice “leave-no-trace” (as we all should), you still have to carry the broken item with you until you find a proper place to dispose of it without littering the trail.

My favorite backpack. The Mariposa Plus from Gossamer Gear. Weighs only 18 oz. empty.

My entire premiss for developing this gear list and sharing it with you is to help you have a better backpacking experience. My philosophy is pretty simple: take advantage of the newest advances in technology and materials and utilize the lightest and most compact equipment to lighten the load that I have to carry on the trail. This accomplishes a couple things; first, the newer technologies and materials out perform older gear, and second, the gear and equipment is much lighter than the gear we hauled around on our backs in the 70’s and 80’s.

My goal is to carry as little as possible and what I do have to carry be as light as I can find, but durable. It looks like I have everything divided into seven groups, but really it all fits into three categories: 1. everything that goes into the backpack (the stuff you carry), 2. everything you wear on the trail, and 3. the crew gear which is shared and split up amongst the crew evenly. There is a 4th group of items that is my “travel bag” which is made up of clothes and items I need on the road if we have to travel more than one day to get to the trail head.

I like mummy bags that are wide so I can roll over when all zipped up. When searching for your bag, go to places that let you lay in them to see if you like the way they fit. This is my extra wide Alpinlite from Western Mountaineering, rated to 20 degrees. Weighs 1 lb. 15oz.

Important note: I backpack with only two sets of clothes, one set I’m wearing on the trail and the second set is in my backpack. If you follow proper hygiene on the trail you’ll never need a 3rd set of clothes.


Gear (in backpack):

backpack, 2-man tent (split w/partner), sleeping bag, sleeping pad, pillow, moccasins, camp towel (chamois), cup (bowl), spoon, rain gear (top + pants), 2-3 nalgenes (1 liter each), toilet kit*, essentials bag**, extra ziplocks, fanny/day pack, note pad/pen, pack cover, headlamp, extra straps

Clothes (in backpack):

socks, (1 pr), sock liners, (1 pr), underwear, (1 pr), shirt, (1), bandana (1), sleeping shirt & shorts, gloves (liners), long underwear (1 pr) OPT, fleece top, extra straps

Clothes (wear on the trail):

socks, sock liners, underwear, shirt, shorts, bandana, hiking boots, hat, watch

*Toilet Kit:

baby wipes (biodegradable), kleenex, toothpaste, tooth brush, chapstick, moleskin, baby powder, camp suds, insect repellent, nasal spray, Neosporin

**Essentials Bag:

various twines, fire tender, compass, insect repellent, nylon cord (50 ft), leatherman knife/plier, bic lighter, or, waterproof matches, carrabeaners, repair clips/buckles

Crew Gear (shared):

dromedarys (4 Lt) 1 for each 3 ppl., stove w/repair kit, back-up stove, fuel bottles (2), food, dining fly, bear bags & ropes, crew first aid kit, crew kitchen, toilet paper, trowel

MSR Whisperlite stove. A very light and durable stove.

Travel Bag:

first day hiking clothes, underwear (4 pr), t-shirts (4), socks (4 pr), shorts (1 pr), toilet kit, tennis shoes, swim suit & towel, camera w/charger or batteries, money

Download a PDF of my gear list: backpacking_gear_v9


A great two-man tent from Tarptent. The Double Rainbow is only 24 oz. and super easy to set up.

The gear on this list has been honed and refined over many treks. This is the gear that I’m most comfortable carrying and ensures me that I’ll have an enjoyable backpacking trip. Based on your personal preferences you can add or delete from this list. One of the most important things to remember is to always choose the lightest option when you have choices for your gear and clothes. The other one is the old cliche “cotton kills”. The  only cotton in my pack are my sleeping clothes and bandanas. Everything else is microfiber, different blends of polyester, nylon, and other synthetics that dry faster and don’t retain moisture. Microfiber material is also lighter than natural fibers. In a future post I’ll discuss the criteria I use to choose my gear. You may also want to reference my post about “Trail Tips”.

Happy hiking!


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8 Responses to Guy’s Backpacking Gear List

  1. Rob Bartlett says:

    great overview with good details — see a checklist format on my old troop’s website under Useful Things\Backpacking Guide and Canoeing Guide — also great photo! looks like you were near Grande Vista, just across Hwy 64 on your way to Mt Baldy

    • Guy says:

      Thanks Rob, the downloadable PDF at the bottom is more like a check list format. The post would have been REAL long if I had done that here. The most important thing is to use the newer lighter materials. They don’t retain moisture and they compress tighter. The first photo is just below the summit of Mt. Phillips from the Crooked Creek side.

    • Dayak says:

      The time and effort spent to pack first aid suipples is minimal, but too often overlooked. Any small injury can turn a fun adventure into a miserable experience. Be prepared.Good list, and thanks for sharing.

      • Guy says:

        Yep, “be prepared”. I always carry a few minimal first aid items in my toilet kit, but I have a larger wilderness first aid kit that becomes part of the crew gear.

  2. Shahanna says:

    I’ll soon be embarking on a 20 day semmur trip in Europe. I’ll mostly be hostel hopping and am traveling by Eurail. Looked at a lot of packs but haven’t settled on one. I’m 5’2 woman. My main contenders right now are a North Face Terra 45 L Women’s or Osprey 55 L Farpoint. The thing I like about the Farpoint is it has a detachable daypack, but I wonder if 55 L is too much? I like the fact that the North Face is 45 L and a women’s pack. Do you have any suggestions to help me find the best pack?

    • Guy says:

      Hi Shahanna, those are both good packs. They are a little on the heavy side, but are durable as a result.Osprey makes great products and utilize some innovative suspension that make their packs comfortable. You might also look at the Kelty Pawnee 50 and the Gregory Jade 50, both well made womens packs. If you’d like something lighter you might check out the packs at Gossamer Gear. They have several that are all under 2 lbs. Hope this helps!

    • Fery says:

      Lighter loads are better,BUT,common sense has to focatr,your last sentence states perfectly,+alot of your new packs offer venting,which adds yet more benefits.Most of the UL crowd just do UL as a yuppie competition to see who has the lightest load(at any cost+$),and criticize all others(pioneers no less).In my long history of backpacking(pro+UL),Gregory packs are the best packs ever.Gregory could jump on the UL bandwagon,but most people grasp Gregory’s last sentence above,and im sure are happy.

  3. I was looking for this particular info for a long time. Thank you and good luck.

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