What to Pack when Backpacking - The ultimate packing list
We love backpacking. And with every backpacking trip comes new experiences and moments where we get to learn how to make the next time even better.
We've got some great items we've found that keep our packs light and our tummy's happy while exploring and camping in nature.
Check out those beautifully packed packs. 🤩🤩🤩
To make packing easy we are going to divide the packing list up into 5 different categories. The categories are Food, Hiking Gear, Clothing, Toiletries, and Camping Gear.
First Category is Food!
Having good food is crucial to a successful backpacking trip because hunger=bad decisions. Packing for food can be hard because you want to keep your pack lightweight. Many people don't know where to start when packing food. Here are some frequently asked questions before we get into meal ideas!
How much food should you take backpacking? It depends, but the short answer is about 2,500 to 4,500 calories of food per person per day.
What types of food should you bring backpacking? For beginners, keep it simple and choose lightweight, food that you know you'll like to eat.
What are some backpacking meal ideas? The list is truly endless, but we’ll offer a few suggestions below. Luckily, they make some amazing dehydrated meals to take with you. For our trip, we suggested to pack breakfast/lunch and a dehydrated meal for breakfast. Making sure your meals have enough calories is so important as food=fuel.
Here's some meal ideas starting with Breakfast:
Bagel and Cream Cheese
Perk Energy! (We love this so much we have a code for you! Use code JURGYS)
Fresh Fruit such as Apples and Oranges
Protein Shake. We love CleanSimpleEats protein powder. use code THEJURGYS for 10% off!)
Salami, crackers and cheese
Tuna packets with crackers
Veggies such as carrots
Bagel with Cream Cheese and Turkey
Dehydrated meals - these are some of our favorites! Chicken Alfredo , Beef Pasta Marinara, Homestyle Chicken and Rice, and Chicken Pesto Pasta.
Ramen with dehydrated chicken
Rice, Beans, and Chicken
Gummy Bears (this was a fan favorite)
Carrots, celery, and cucumbers.
Along with food we wanted to include our backpacking stoves that made cooking dinner easy.
This one was a crowd favorite. We actually split the boiling water between two dehydrated meals which made it easy to share the water we so carefully filtered. 🤩For us with 12 people in our party, we coordinated who brought the stoves and shared so we could pack lighter. If you have a smaller group, packing one or two stoves will work for you just make sure you bring propane. Don't forget a spork!
One super important thing to bring with you is a water filter! Luckily, in the Tetons there is so much water as you hike which works great for staying hydrated BUT you have to make sure to filter the water. We love our life straw water bottles. You can just fill your bottle up and put the lid on and drink fresh water as it filters. This is a great filter to use for cooking and filtering lots of water to fill other water bottles or a water bladder for a camelback.
Next category is Hiking Gear!
Packing the right kind of tools for your backpacking trip can be tricky. Some tools weigh more than others or quite frankly work better than others. Here is our list of "must haves" when backpacking.
The Backpack. Having a good pack really makes all of the difference. Here's some of the packs our girls brought on our trip. We backpacked for 3 days so we suggested a 50L-65L pack. We also had everyone bring a daypack to use on our second day to bring water and lunch in.
Hiking Poles can be extremely useful when backpacking. Any hiking poles will be beneficial but finding collapsible ones will save you weight in your pack. These poles will work great for you.
Good shoes. This could go in our clothing category buutttt shoes really make or break your hiking experience. The number one thing that will make a good pair of shoes great is breaking them in BEFORE you backpack. One girl on our trip wore Hoka Speedgoats and was the only one in our group to not have blisters or sore feet BUT she had broke them in very well before our trip. We suggest shoes with ankle support as you are packing lots of weight on your back but you get to ultimately make the decision with what feels best to you. Here are some great options to look at.
This feels like a great place to move onto the next section...
There is so much to packing good clothing. Having clothing that keeps you warm, dry, and comfy is so important when backpacking. From socks to beanies, here's our take on good backpacking clothing.
Socks. You don't think it matters, but it does. Invest is hiking specific socks. This pack on amazon works great!
For pants we've got a couple really great options. Patagonia sells these AMAZING light weight pants that can be worn all day and even at night. They even have a pair that are lined on the inside to make them even warmer. These other Patagonia pants would be amazing to backpack in as well. Basically, you want lightweight, wicking material that can dry quick from sweat and water. For night, consider lots of layers. You never know what the weather will be at night. Not to mention, layers are great for backpacking anyway! Try a bottom layer, a pull over, a light jacket, a wind breaker, shell, and puffer. If you pack all of these you will be covered no matter the weather.
If you have any specific questions don't hesitate to reach out! Our next category is...
The key to packing your toiletries is to take large items and make them small. Instead of packing a whole first aid kit, pack 5-10 band aids, a travel size neosporin, 5-10 Advil pills, etc. These tiny containers work great when dividing up big containers into smaller ones.
Something super important to know about backpacking, especially in the Tetons is to leave no trace. You have to pack out all your trash include any toilet paper. 😅
These biodegradable wipes work great for times you need to go #2 and want to keep it "clean". Even though they are biodegradable you still in need to pack them out.
For all other toiletries, think small and minimal.
The last section we want to talk about is...
The actual camping gear!
This will probably be the bulk of the things you pack when backpacking so making sure you have lightweight, good gear is so important!
First up, sleeping bags. They say to go about 15º F warmer than what the weather will be to be comfy. For most people a 45ºF bag works great when backpacking. This highly rated Western Mountaineering AlpinLite 20 Degree Sleeping Bag costs a lot BUT it will last you forever. It will keep you so warm and be with you for life. This Spark Ultralight Sleeping bag is amazing and is a great middle cost. If you are wanting to invest in a quality sleeping bag, but don't wanna drop a ton of money, this is a great option. The cheapest option, while still being good quality is the Kelty Cosmic 20 Sleeping Bag.
The key to staying warm while backpacking or camping is to have a good sleeping pad. The ground beneath you can get very cold and even a high quality sleeping bag won't keep you warm without the support of a good sleeping pad. Here are four of our favorites.
This one is so small and lightweight but can be cold without a higher rated sleeping bag.
This one is AMAZING. It is more expensive but it will keep you so comfy and warm.
This last one is a great price point for a nicer sleeping pad but won't break the bank. Plus. It's yellow which is just bright and sunny. 🤩
Up next is a tent! If you want to be alone, grab a one man
tent but we suggest purchasing a two man tent and splitting the tent between two people. One person packs the poles, and rain fly while the other packs the tent. This makes having a cheaper, slightly heaver tent more manageable. We took this tent and it worked great.
When picking a tent make sure they have a rain fly and are easy to set up!
We hope you have a perfectly packed backpacking trip and lots of fun! Check out our other blog post all about planning your trip here!
Want to come with us on this backpacking trip next year? Leave a comment below and we'll reach out to ya!