The Ultimate Backpacking Checklist: What To Pack For Your Next Hike

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Backpacking Essentials For Your Next Hiking Adventure

Nothing beats the feeling of backpacking in and around the West Coast rainforest that is Vancouver Island. The peaceful sounds of birds chirping while the gentle babbling of creeks can be heard in the distance is second to none for those of us who love to be out in nature. 

Picture the crunching of fir cones under your hiking boots while you breathe in the fresh air as you come upon your destination – a remote body of water, stunning waterfall, or mountaintop. Moments like these are the really good stuff in life, which is why at Capital Iron, we are fully stocked with backpacking essentials to help you get out there and enjoy it all to the fullest.

Backpacking Checklist PDF
Click to Download our Backpacking Checklist PDF

Hiking is restorative for the body, mind and spirit, but it also requires being fully prepared. Whether you’re planning a weekend, multi-day, or extended backpacking trip, always be ready for anything.

To determine what you need to pack on a backpacking trip, keep these things in mind:

  • How far you plan to hike for
  • Know how remote the location is
  • Have an idea of what the weather will be like

These factors can help you figure out how much clothing, gear, food, and water you may need. Will a regular backpack, daypack, and pack cover work with the trip you’re planning, or do you need a bigger backpack for an extended trip? 

Remember, being self-sufficient is key to having a great adventure, whether you’re hiking around Tofino or through Tanzania.

Shelter & Sleep System Items for Backpacking

Getting a good night’s sleep is important to keep your energy up during the long adventure ahead. The last thing anyone wants to do is sleep on the cold ground, so be sure to pack the right items to stay warm and dry.

Shelter items:

  • Tent or Bivy
  • Bug netting
  • Footprint if needed (protective fabric for underneath the tent)
  • Hammock or tarp setup

Sleep items:

  • Sleeping bag
  • Air mattress / foam pad
  • Pillow (optional)

Kitchen Essentials for Backpacking

What’s just as important as sleeping? Eating of course!
Just because you’re out in the wilderness doesn’t mean you can’t eat well. While on the trail, pack snacks that are easy to eat on the go. For actual meal breaks, you can plan a more filling meal to keep your energy up.
Packing light requires careful planning ahead of time. The right lightweight stoves, fuel and cooking tools will ensure that you’ll be well-fed and have plenty of energy to tackle the obstacles ahead.

Kitchen items:

  • Backpacker’s stove
  • Long spoon/spork
  • Fuel (Isobutane/White gas)
  • Cookset
  • Mess kit
  • Coffee system
  • Freeze-dried meals
  • Trail Mix
  • Energy Bars
  • Bear canister/food pack or hang bag with 50’ nylon cord

Backpacking Gear

Remember, backpack planning requires you to balance keeping the weight low while ensuring you have your essential items at hand at all times.
If possible, check ahead of time to see if there are any available water sources during your hike. Packing a water filter or water tablets will help deal with potentially dirty or contaminated water in a pinch. Bring more water than you think you need and pack at least two good sized water bladders. 

  • Lighter/Matches/Striker
  • Water filter/Tablets
  • Water Bottle or water bladder x2
  • Flashlight or headlamp
  • Packable Lantern
  • Knife or multitool
  • Trekking poles
  • Lightweight cord
  • Drybag(s)

Maintaining Hygiene While Backpacking

Maintaining good hygiene will keep you healthy and strong while you’re out in the bush. Depending on how long your adventure will be, remembering to bring these items will improve your quality of life during your backpacking trip.

  • Toothbrush & toothpaste (toothpaste tabs are ideal and mess-free)
  • Deodorant
  • Toilet paper
  • Feminine products
  • Backpacking trowel
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Insect repellant
  • Ziplock bags

Safety First

When you’re planning to go out into the wilderness, always hope for the best, but plan for the worst.
Hopefully, you won’t need to use a first aid kit while you’re enjoying your adventure, but always bring a refreshed and fully stocked emergency kit with you, with enough for everyone in your group.
Having the basics like a GPS, map, and compass will help ensure you don’t get lost in a network of trails. Also, keep a PLB (personal locator beacon) and safety whistle with you at all times. Accidents can happen, weather can change drastically, and it can be all too easy to become lost. Keeping safety items on you at all times can save your life if something goes wrong.

  • First aid kit
  • Moleskins/Blister kit
  • Sunscreen/Lip balm
  • Medication
  • Sunglasses
  • GPS
  • Map & compass
  • Personal locator beacon (PLB)
  • Whistle
  • Signal Mirror
  • Bear deterrent (bear bell, bear spray)

Clothing: Rain Jacket or Fleece Jacket?

Always be prepared for potentially changing weather or an unplanned night out so you’re not stuck backpacking in soaking wet clothes, unable to get warm or dry. Always check the weather forecast and pack light layers. When you get lucky with an unseasonably warm day, you can always remove some layers. For those times you get a sudden spring hailstorm, or come across snow at higher altitudes, you’ll have everything you need to conquer the elements.

  • Hiking boots/Trail runners
  • Campground shoes to let your feet breathe after being in hikers all day
  • Gaiters to protect against damp, snow and mud.
  • Wide-brimmed hat
  • Moisture-wicking base layer
  • Insulating mid-layer
  • Rain/Wind Jacket
  • Moisture-wicking socks
  • Long-sleeved shirt
  • Bandana or BUFF
  • Wool socks

Personal & Luxury Items

Some of these items may seem unnecessary, but that depends entirely on how much extra weight you feel comfortable carrying.
Having a book or a deck of cards can be a great way to pass the time around the campfire when you’re not quite ready to turn in for the night.
Make sure an itinerary is left with a friend or family member, one is left under the seat of your car and one is in your bag. This way, someone will always know your approximate location and you’ll be able to keep to your schedule.

  • Monocular/Binoculars
  • Battery bank
  • Book/Games
  • ID/Itinerary/Cash/Credit Card
  • Multifunction watch
  • Mobile phone
  • Wineskin for an after-dinner drink

Come Visit Capital Iron For Your Backpacking Essentials

At Capital Iron, we have everything you need to prepare for the backpacking adventure of a lifetime! All you need to do is figure out where you want to explore next. Will you globe trot, or experience the incredible beauty of Vancouver Island’s many trail systems?

Our excellent staff members will be happy to help you find everything you could ever want to outfit yourself for your very first, or next, backpacking trip, including a wide selection of packs designed for all different types of adventures. Come visit one of our locations in Victoria or Langford for your backpacking essentials today!

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