This is a sample list of things you might take on a week-long trip hiking in a wilderness area. Even more than with other kinds of travel, packing for this kind of trip requires compromises between keeping weight down and making sure you bring everything you'll need, because you have to carry it all with you. Depending on where you're going and the time of year, some of the items may not be useful to you, and there are inevitably additional items you'll want to bring along, but this should give you a general idea of what you'll want to pack. (Please keep in mind that we want this list to be useful to people in general, so don't edit it for your own specific needs.) For information and advice about gear selection, see Wilderness backpacking and Cold weather.
For some of the equipment it is enough if one or two persons in the party have them. This is true even for some of the cloths: some spares are needed mostly when something breaks or gets drenched, which may be unlikely to happen for all the party.
Includes both packed cloths and what you are wearing at start.
- 2 undershirts (cotton less suitable, as discussed in Cold weather)
- 2 long-sleeve shirts (either for warmth or for protection against the sun)
- 2 t-shirts, leave out if cold and you have adequate other underwear or you have other clothing for hot weather
- 2 pair of trousers/pants (at least one pair suitable weight for current weather, the other pair can double as raingear or be adequately warm only with heavy underwear); denim (blue jeans) can be used for shorter hikes in dry conditions, but are generally not useful for hiking as they are difficult to get dry
- 2 pair of underpants (long legs if cold)
- 2 pair of wool or hiking socks (at least another 2 pairs of socks if used in layers)
- hiking boots, insoles; rubber boots are adequate in some terrain, normal walking or sports shoes in some, wrong kind of footwear on a long hike will ruin it, never rely on new boots or shoes, as they and your feet have to be acquainted to each other
- plastic bags for protecting socks when the boots have been drenched – and for preventing drenching if fording in waters where you need the boots
- sandals or other light footwear (for wearing when not hiking, possibly also for fording)
- waterproof windbreaker, or at least a jacket; winter coat if temperatures much below freezing
- raingear – ponchos can drape over your pack and save you the expense of a waterproof packcover, but you may still need something to protect your legs from wet ground vegetation; leave out if temperature much below freezing
- gloves and mittens according to weather, with enough spares (needed in windy and wet weather even at quite warm temperatures)
- a hat or other headwear (to shade your face or trap heat – or to keep you warm)
- sweater, at least for cold evenings, also for breaks in colder weather, worn most of the time if really cold (which means you need something more for the breaks and evenings)
- women: 2 good sports bras
- oatmeal, trail mix, sausage
- freeze-dried meals or dried ingredients
- chocolate, cereal bars, cookies, raisins or other quick-energy snacks
Some of the meals should be suitable for easy preparation in awkward weather.
- camping stove, including cooking pots
- waterproof matches/lighter/fire starter
- multi-tool pocket knife (e.g. Swiss Army or Leatherman)
- plate, cup, utensils
- dish cloth, scouring sponge
- water bottles
- plastic bags for trash
- water filter – to remove physical debris
- iodine tablets – to remove germalogical issues; there are also other water purification tablets
If you're traveling in bear country ensure your food is bagged so it can be tied up and away from the ground.
- sleeping bag
- foam or air mattress; air mattresses should be made for hiking, as the air must not transport warmth from you to the ground
- travel pillow?
- mosquito net?
- backpack, waterproof packcover; a poncho may do, but if you are going to leave the backpack outside your tent, you need it protected also then
- headlamp or flashlight, spare battery
- maps, compass – make sure you can read them before you set out.
- hiking staff or walking sticks (important in some terrain, e.g. for fording fast-flowing streams or for lessening load on ankles and knees when descending)
Stay healthy and safe
Sun and hygiene
- insect repellent, mosquito hat in some areas
- sun lotion
- after sun treatment such as aloe vera gel
- light trekking towel, bioshower-soap
- toothbrush, toothpaste (depending on destination), floss
- handkerchiefs (dozens of uses, mere ounces of weight; from paper or washable)
- women: tampons or pads
First aid etc.
- analgesic painkiller such as aspirin or ibuprofen
- anti-diarrhea medicine
- blister care (e.g. moleskin, adhesive bandages)
- snakebite kit where appropriate
- topical antiseptic solution (e.g. iodine) for cuts, bites and grazes
- survival blanket (metal lined fabric e.g. to wrap around a disabled person)
Cash and cards
- insurance card (highly unnecessary, but doesn't weigh much)
- ID card (highly unnecessary, but doesn't weigh much)
- cash, bank card (highly unnecessary, but doesn't weigh much)
Knife, matches and rope
- a least one lighter, gas or petrol plus small pack of storm matches (can be a life-saver in heavy rain)
- rope – myriad of potential uses, at least 3 metres of light rope for repairs, possibly a long strong rope for e.g. difficult fords
- mobile or satellite phone – pack watertight, keep off most of the time
- cyalume glow-stick
- water proof stuff packs
- repair kit for any likely critical problems (needle and thread, tape, spare front end for skis, what have you)
See and do
- notepad and pen for journal