Beginner’s Guide to Backpacking: Packing List


Our big summer trip this year was quite the adventure trip! We headed to Yosemite National Park in California and went backpacking for 4 days/3 nights. We carried everything we needed on our backs. My dad has done this a couple of times before, so he was very persistent in stressing the importance of packing light…not the easiest thing for a girl who stuffs her carry-on so much they tend to have to check it…Luckily, we were successful in packing as light as we could given we needed the essentials for 4 days. I have compiled a list of all the NECESSARY items you WILL need on your backpacking trip, as well as the items I packed! Remember I am a total backpacking newbie, so I am SURE there are a few items missing from this list! Stay tuned for a couple posts on what an INCREDIBLE adventure we had in the back country!

Clothes This does not include what you WEAR when you start! I wore a short sleeve shirt, wool socks and long pants.

1 shortsleeve dri-fit shirt: You want something that will dry quickly!

1 longsleeve dri-fit shirt: For chillier days, also good for keeping the sun off!

Thermals: If it is going to be chilly I would recommend packing some thermals! I had long underwear and a top and used them as pajamas!

1 pairs Wool Socks: Smartwool Women’s Hiking Socks…I had these in pink and blue and LOVED the fun colors

1 pair of sandals: Chacoswere my choice, but they were a tad heavy but very useful for crossing rivers!

1 pair of pants: Zip-Off pants are ideal because then you don’t need shorts…but being completely honest I had such a hard time finding hiking pants I thought was somewhat stylish!

1 pair of shorts: make sure pants/shorts are also good dry-fit lightweight material

Rain Jacket: Marmot Women’s Precip Jacket, this is the EXACT rain jacket I have and I LOVE it because it can fold up!

Lightweight Fleece: Fleece Jacket,depending on where you are camping, this is good to have for chilly nights and mornings

2 pair of underwear: ExOfficio Women’s Bikini Briefs, I love this brand because they are easy to wash and dry quickly! So if you are going for a long trip you could wash these easily!

a hat: you want a hat with good sun protection, I just used a baseball cap

Sunglasses: Costa Del Mar Sunglasses, I have had these bad boys for about a year and I absolutely swear by them! They are my favorite!

Hiking Boots: I found my pair at REI in the clearance section but I absolutely LOVE them, they are ECCO brand. This biggest thing with hiking boots is to make sure they are comfortable and that you BREAK them in before starting!

Personal Items

Any medicine you might need: This can be a medicine you take regularly, or something you foresee yourself maybe needing on the trip. I recommend Advil and Benadryl!

Lip Balm: Preferably one with a good SPF. LOVE this one from Rodan+Fields

Sunscreen:Neutrogena Sunscreen I love the Neutrogena sunscreen because the bottle is small (easier to pack!) and also its not very greasy!

Bug Spray: Trust me you will want this!!

Tooth Brush/Tooth Paste: I recommend the little travel sized ones, you really do not need anything fancy

Floss: I am the world’s worst flosser, but the floss can come in handy for other things while camping!

Small Towel: I used a Cooling Towel one so it could function as a towel, or help if I got overheated.

Poop Kit: awkward to mention, but necessary to bring! 3 Ziploc Baggies with a some TP and a Shovel

Giant Garbage Bag: Perfect to cover your pack if it starts to POUR down rain!

Duct Tape: Just like the floss, perfect for fixing little things!


Headlight: Ultra Bright LED Headlamp Flashlight You will need a light when it gets dark, and wearing it on your head is SO much cooler than carrying a flashlight!

Backpack:Osprey Women’s Ariel 65 Backpack If you aren’t sure of a good pack, I definitely recommend heading into an REI store and having them help you out! They have a HUGE selection and an extremely knowledgeable staff to help you!

REI Daypack: Most packs have a top that zip off that can be used as a daypack, but I used the REI day pack to pack clothes, and then I used it for day hikes…  so it served two purposes

Tent:Mountain Hardwear: 2 Person Tent This tent was SUPER easy to set up, and this is coming from a girl who had NEVER pitched a tent in her life.

Sleeping Bag: I can’t find my exact sleeping bag, but REI has tons of options. I know mine was good for down to 20degrees, and it was a mummy bag!

Sleeping Pad: Therm-a-Rest Base Sleeping Padthis little guy handily rolls up and can be attached to the bottom of your pack. It will make sleeping outside much more enjoyable! Think of it like a little air mattress!

Chair:Crazy Creek The Chair I know this chair looks ABSOLUTELY ridiculous, but it was so handy! We would plop down into these chairs each night and just sit around the campfire!

Water Filter: Sawyer Squeezable Pouch We had two filters on this trip, just to be safe. We mainly used the UV Pen, but it stopped working for a little so had to use the Squeeze Filter. I prefer the UV pen when in the mountains, because the water is clean enough. In Florida I would have wanted to use the Squeeze Filter simply because Florida water can be NASTY. SteriPEN Adventurer UV Water Purifier

Nalgene: I recommend a wide mouth Nalgene, because it is easier to filter the water with the UV pen.

Cooking System: Jetboil Personal Cooking System We had so much fun using this we wanted to get one for back home!

Food: You have to carry everything you want to eat. Breakfast consisted of oatmeal and dried fruit. Starbucks Vias were used for coffee. Lunch was snacky food, cliff bars and trail mix. Dinner…ugh dinner…freeze dried bags of food. I was not a fan.

Bear Cannisters: Bear Resistant Food Canister If you are going somewhere that bears are present you will need bear cannisters to place ANYTHING scented in. Luckily our campsite the last night had a giants Bear Locker…but the first night we were truly in the wilderness and had to squeeze everything from food to sunscreen into the bear cannister. Also, practice opening these before you go because I honestly had the HARDEST time opening them! haha

First Aid Kit: Adventure Medical Kit …something you will hopefully NEVER need to use, but extremely necessary to have with you!

GPS Messenger:SPOT 3 Satellite GPS Messenger This another item you will hopefully NEVER ever need, but essential. It is used in an emergency. You press a button and it sends your GPS location to rescue.

Screen shot 2015-06-21 at 3.43.31 PM

I have included links to some of the specific items we used on our backpacking trip! Having the right gear makes any trip a little more enjoyable! Please remember, I am by no means an EXPERT backpacker! This is just a list of what we used, and I can almost guarantee I forgot something on the list!

2 thoughts on “Beginner’s Guide to Backpacking: Packing List

  1. sbutler107 says:

    I love how insightful and thorough those instructions were, I just didn’t know backpacking was so complicated, I wanted to do a romantic getaway and thought this might be easy haha! Thank you so much!

    • SaraSmiles365 says:

      Thank you!!!! I would recommend going with a guide that can provide ALL the equipment!! I do think backpacking would be a super romantic getaway…it would just involve a little work 🙂

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