Checklist: Backpacking Gear Essentials for Your Next Adventure

There's something about being the only human within a few miles' radius that can't be described — it has to be felt. Be prepared to explore with the backpacking gear that's currently fueling our adventures.

backpacking gear
Therm-a-Rest

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To truly be prepared for backpacking, you'll need a lot of gear. You should never venture out without the 10 essentials for safety and survival, of course. But how do you choose from a sea of expensive gear, all boasting different "unique" features, when everything seems so similar? That's why we've put together this list — a list of our favorite gear that's currently filling our packs — so you can spend less time researching how to get started and more time exploring.

Not sure how to get outfitted with other outdoor essentials? Check out our fitness section for help choosing other backpacking items, including down jackets, thermal underwear, hiking boots, and so much more!

1 Teton Sports 161 Internal Frame Backpack
amazon.com $59.99

Ready to embark on a backpacking trip, but not sure where to start aside from the trail? Teton is the best go-to backpack for men, women, youth, beginners, seasoned hikers, and beyond. It will store all of your stuff for around a four-day venture. 

The backpack features multiposition torso adjustment, so any hiker of any size can strap into this. The backpack was designed with airflow in mind, keeping your essentials as fresh as possible while on the go. The multidirectional compression straps are there for added comfort and support. 

More: These Are the Most Badass Beer Coolers to Keep Fresh Brews Flowing

2 HotHands Hand Warmers
amazon.com $26.38

Sometimes, in the great outdoors, when the fire goes out and you lay there watching your breath escape your mouth, there's nothing better than snuggling with some hand warmers to ease you into a deep sleep. Grab a, well, handful from this pack of 40 and share the love on your next backpacking adventure in the cooler temps. Plus, no one will ever forget who kept them warm when it was needed most. 

3 Therm-a-Rest Questar 20 HD Sleeping Bag
$249.95

You'll be hard-pressed to find another sleeping bag that performs this well for a better price. The Questar isn't your mind-blowing, wallet-emptying bag, but there's plenty of quality performance for the average backpacker at a super attractive price. 

Warmth is the Questar's priority, as it's stuffed with 650-fill hydrophobic down that's rated to be comfortable at 20 degrees, has ThermaCapture seams that keep warmth inside, and is strategically more insulated at the top of the bag to trap rising body heat. 

To top it all off, the company's Synergy Link straps will prevent you from rolling off your sleeping pad, and it compresses down into a small stuff sack for easy portability.

More: 11 Down Sleeping Bags for a Comfortable Snooze

4 Foxelli Headlamp Flashlight
amazon.com $12.97

Seriously, do not knock it till you try it. A headlamp is an essential when it comes to safety, stress-free wandering right before dawn, and seamless navigation at night. You'll want to make sure everyone in your group has one of these before heading into the wilderness. 

5 Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Ultralight Tent
$429.95

Don't be deterred by sticker shock — this tent is seriously worth every penny! The Copper Spur HV UL 2 (it's a mouthful, we know) has all the qualities that backpackers look for in a tent — it's lightweight, waterproof, durable, extremely packable, spacious, and easy to set up. 

If you're looking to invest in a tent that'll last you for years, keep you dry in sideways storms, and give you a ton of bang for your buck, we highly recommend checking out this bad boy.

More: 11 Best Backpacking Tents for Off-the-Grid Camping

6 Leatherman Wave+ Multi-Tool
leatherman.com $99.95

A multi-tool is basically like carrying a miniature toolbox, and we'd be surprised if you don't use it every time you're backpacking. Leatherman's Wave+ is an update to their best-selling multitool, with 17 tools in total, which includes a combo knife, a saw, screwdrivers, a hammer, and more. 

The upgraded needle-nose pliers include replaceable wire cutters and an upgraded sheath with a metal snap (rather than Velcro) for a more secure hold and longer life. Don't even think about leaving this behind, because you never know when it'll come in handy!

7 Mubasel Gear Hydration Backpack Pack With2L BPA-Free Bladder
amazon.com $23.99

Keep this hydration pack close on your next backpacking trip. Whether you need to sip from it on the main trail or use a smaller bag when you're on the campsite hiking around, you can count on this top-reviewed option. Add a drop or two of safe-to-consume peppermint oil, like this one by Young Living, for a real refresher that will seriously keep you moving. 

8 ORCA Chaser Cup
amazon.com $40.49

Don't let the light coral color of this chaser fool you. This insulated travel mug by ORCA can hold up to 27 ounces of liquid. It's double-vacuum-sealed, so it can keep liquids piping hot (or ice-cold, if you need it) for hours. 

Available in almost any color or pattern you can dream up, it's easy to find one that suits your style best. The slim bottom makes it easy to carry and drop into any nearby cupholder or dig into any sand or earth. 

9 Coleman LED Solar Charging Lantern
amazon.com $19.99

Not only will this lightweight lantern charge in the sun so you can lead the way with confidence after dark, but it also doubles as a portable USB charging station. This little guy will light your way — and bring your phone battery back to life, too. 

10 Osprey UltraLight Rain Cover

from $33.13

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There's nothing worse than pulling wet clothes or food out of your backpack. Keep this ultralight rain cover handy, then slip it over your pack in case a thunderstorm rolls in before you get to camp. You'll never regret carrying this, even when it doesn't get used.

11 Platypus GravityWorks 4L Water Filter Kit

$119.95

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Staying hydrated is one the most important parts of backpacking, but it's not safe to drink from unfiltered water sources, no matter how thirsty you are or how fresh the water looks. Trust us, doing this could cause one hell of a bad time.

Fill the 4-liter upper reservoir with dirty water, hang it from a tree, then let the filter work its magic and fill up the lower reservoir. You'll have clean water ready to drink in no time, with zero pumping required. Drink up!

12 MSR PocketRocket Stove Kit

$99.95

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MSR has seriously simplified backcountry cooking with this stove kit. It has everything you'll need to eat well, including their best-selling PocketRocket stove, which can boil water in under four minutes. There's also a 2-liter pot with a straining lid, two bowls, two mugs, and two folding sporks. All the contents pack inside the pot, and it weighs under 26 ounces total!

13 Kelty Upslope 2.0 Trekking Poles

$29.95

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Trekking poles may not be a part of your kit for day hikes, but when you're hauling an extra 30 or 40 pounds of gear, you'll appreciate the extra stability that trekking poles provide. We consider them to pretty much be a necessity. For the average multinight trip, these simple, collapsible, and affordable sticks will do the trick.

More: 11 Trekking Poles That Provide Solid Balance and Stability

14 Paracord Planet 3mm Utility Cord

$5.49

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There are a million uses for ropes when backpacking — use it as a clothesline, to secure a tarp, or to hang your food off the ground at night. Pack this strong, lightweight, multipurpose utility cord, and you'll always be prepared to improvise.

15 Alite Designs Monarch Chair

$69.98

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After a long day of hiking, sitting on the hard ground can leave a little to be desired. This chair from Alite packs down to smaller than the Sunday newspaper, weighs just 19 ounces, and is more comfortable than it looks. A chair really shouldn't be overlooked — it makes all the difference for fireside chilling, trust us!

More: 19 Camping Chairs That Are Lightweight, and Comfortable

16 Nemo Astro 20 Insulated Sleeping Pad

$99.95

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Nemo's Astro is one of the more comfortable backpacking pads available, as its 3-inch thickness is more plush than many lightweight competitors, yet it still packs small enough to stuff in your overnight bag.

With a weight of 27 ounces, it's not the lightest pad around, but it's made with a thicker fabric that's more durable, has a raised baffle at the head that eliminates the need to bring a pillow, and is much more comfortable than many ultralight pads. We can't help but be swayed by the price tag, too!

More: 11 Sleeping Pads That Will Leave You Feeling Refreshed in the Morning

17 Suunto A-30L Field Compass

$20.00

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Directionally challenged? Even if you aren't, a compass is an absolute necessity for backpacking. Pair it with a map that's specific to the zone where you'll be heading to minimize your chances of finding yourself miles from the trail and sending out smoke signals.

18 Adventure Medical Emergency Bivvy Sack

$18.41

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We hope to never need this emergency bivvy sack, but we would also appreciate surviving a cold night if we wind up lost and desperate. This bivvy packs down super small, keeps snow and cold air on the outside, and reflects body heat on the inside to keep you warm when you need it most.

19 UCO Titan Stormproof Match Kit

$8.70

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As easy as a lighter can be, they're susceptible to moisture, and fire is pretty much non-negotiable for an enjoyable evening outside (unless you're in a protected wilderness area, of course).

This kit includes 12 matches that burn for up to 25 seconds, three replaceable strikers, and a waterproof case that seals to keep water out.