When planning a backpacking trip, having the right gear can make the difference between a great trip and a miserable trip. It doesn't matter if you are a seasoned backpacker or a beginner; choosing the best backpacking gear for the way you hike will enhance your experience and make sure you are prepared for any challenges that come your way.  If you are a beginner backpacker looking for the essential beginner backpacking gear,  think like a pro and choose gear that is versatile and as lightweight as possible, especially when choosing tents and backpacks. When in doubt, skip extra features that add weight. An ultralight backpacking gear list will serve you well. 

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  1. Backpack: A properly fitting backpack is essential for carrying all your gear comfortably. Think realistically about the kind of hikes you do and choose a backpack accordingly. You likely don’t need that backpack designed for Everest. Think versatility and go as light as possible. After mile ten your feet will thank you. 
  2. Tent: A lightweight and durable tent is better. Every pound counts. While it may look nice and roomy, skip that big roomy tent that is better suited to car camping. Opt for a tent that light, durable, weather-resistant, and easy to set up. 
  3. Sleeping Bag: Choose a sleeping bag appropriate for the climate you'll be backpacking. Will you really be snow camping? Probably not. Look for one that is lightweight and compressible for easy packing.
  4. Hiking Boots: This is where spending a little extra is worthwhile. Invest in a sturdy pair of hiking boots that provide ankle support and traction on various terrains. Remember to break them in for a few weeks before you head out on your first serious backpacking trip. Dealing with blisters on the trail is misery.
  5. Water Bottle: Staying hydrated is crucial while backpacking so choose a durable water bottle you can easily refill on the trail. To avoid carrying unnecessary weight, consider a water filter bottle that lets you fill up at lakes and streams along the way. A Water-to-Go water filter bottle for hiking removes harmful contaminants from natural sources. Its advanced filtration technology purifies water without chemicals or pumps. It is lightweight, durable, easy to use, and a sustainable cost-effective solution for staying hydrated on the trail. Important: choose a water filter bottles that removes viruses. Most filter bottles can remove bacteria and parasites but very few can remove fecal viruses deposited in the water by your fellow campers in the campsite upstream. 
  6. Trekking Poles: They are lightweight and help you navigate steep or uneven terrain while reducing strain on your knees and joints. We have all seen these on the trail and maybe looked sideways, but don’t knock it until you try it. Especially if you are an older hiker, poles can make a big difference in your comfort and endurance. Your knees will thank you.
  7. Portable Stove. An essential bit of backpack camping gear. Look for one that's easy to use. No need for super fancy. Pick one that is small, decent quality and light.
  8. Headlamp: A headlamp is essential for navigating the trail after dark. Look for one with adjustable brightness settings and a long-lasting battery. Spend a few extra bucks. There are plenty of cheapo headlamps out there that cast a meager beam of light when you are backcountry. Get one that provides a nice bright path in front of you so you don’t end up stepping someplace you shouldn’t.
  9. Multi-tool: A multi-tool is a versatile and valuable backpacker accessory. It can be used for tasks like making repairs, tightening screws, and preparing meals. Look for one with pliers, knives, screwdrivers, and other essential tools. 
  10. First Aid Kit: A well-stocked but small kit is essential for every backpacker. It should include bandages, antiseptic wipes, and pain relievers for minor injuries like cuts, scrapes, and blisters. You may also include tweezers, moleskin for blister prevention, and medications for common ailments like allergies and headaches. A little extra weight but well worth it.

Water to Go

Adding these accessories to your backpacking gear can enhance your outdoor experience and prepare you for any challenges. The best backpacking gear provides the essentials without adding too much weight and space to your pack. Happy hiking!


Readers of this blog can get a 10% discount on Water-to-Go bottles. Use coupon code “BACKPACKING10” at checkout.


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Written by Lalaine Altar


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Peter Maxwell on May 11, 2024

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