I have backpacked into the Yosemite backcountry many times in my life, and I try to get outdoors whenever possible.

Having the right gear makes it easier to hike for several days.

I’m going hiking with my family. Which things should I pack for a backpacking trip? I want to take my backpack from home, but I don’t know what to bring. Pack smart.

Here is my list of backpacking essentials for a weekend hike.

Backpacks + Hiking Boots

You should look for a backpack that is the right size and the right length for your body. No one backpack fits all! It depends on your build, size, and trip length. This article has some awesome tips about what to look for in a backpack. Information on finding the right backpack for you.

The text also applies to hiking boots. For those who have seen the movie “Wild” you know how important good shoes are. Let’s not throw our shoes off the cliff if we know what I mean. Find the right hiking boot. The right boot is one that fits comfortably and gives you support when hiking, but it doesn’t restrict your movements too much.

I’ve had my Gregory Packs Cairn 68L for as long as I can remember, and used it on the Inca Trail. I recommend something with an aluminum frame to help support the weight!

For hiking boots, I am still looking for my Cinderella fit. For short hikes, I love the Danner Mountain Light Cascade. But I’m not sure I would trust them on a multi-day trek. Hiking boots need to be broken in so you can trust that what you buy is gonna work out. The leaves should be comfortable in the long term.


Backpacking + Camping Gear

These are the basic items you need to comfortably backpack and camp overnight out in the wilderness. If you are hiking with others, consider sharing a tent so that all the weight is taken off your back!

  • Sleeping Mat
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Tent
    • You should stake your tent down with a tent footprint. It will help protect the bottom of the tent, so you don’t have to use sandbags.
    • Rain fly for tent. You never know when a downpour is coming, so always have a rain fly on your tent to keep you dry!
  • Camping Pillow
  • Headlamp (+ batteries)
  • Solar charger (if you want to charge your phone, GoPro etc.) These are examples of what I did to make concepts easier for second graders. If you do any kind of modification to this book, please let me know. I would love to hear about the modifications you made and how they worked out. If you have
  • Trash Bags

Please please please practice “Leave No Trace” when hiking and camping in the outdoors. That means do not litter, whatever trash you take in your backpack should be disposed in an established trash receptacle. Be sure to bring along a bag to collect your trash. I will take my pack with me.

Backpacking Food + Drink

Food and drinks while backpacking is up to personal choice. Some backpackers will opt for dehydrated meals and just use a Jetboil to heat water, while others bring energy bars and lots of snacks, depending on the length of the trek. Make sure to account for all food and drink you carry. You will burn the calories you eat, and you will bring enough energy to keep your blood sugar levels up.

  • Cook your food using a camp stove or a jetboil.
  • Cooking or boiling canisters
  • Knife + Utensils
  • Snacks, Dinner, and Breakfast are all dry foods. Food that is not kept cool does not spoil because it does not contain water.
  • Sugary Treats
  • Tea or Coffee
  • Insulated Mug
  • Water Filter + Water Pouch/Bladder

Hopefully this goes without saying, but clean water is the most important thing to consider before embarking on a multi-day backpacking trip. Since you won’t want to carry gallons of water, you will need to invest in a filter and pouch or bottle to keep your clean water supply in.

You may want to pack along a bear can, depending on where you will be hiking. You can typically rent bear cans from major trailheads or National Parks but check before you go.

Backpacking and Hiking Apparel

Depending on the temperature where you’ll be hiking and camping overnight, you may need to add or remove some of these clothing items! For colder weather, you’ll want warm down layers. For warmer temperatures, you can swap out some items for breathable moisture-wicking layers.

  • Warmer Destinations
    • Light Pullover
    • Moisture-Wicking Leggings
    • Hiking Shorts
    • Moisture-Wicking Long Sleeves
    • Hat
  • Colder Destinations
    • Warm Layers!
    • Long Sleeve Fleece
    • Down Jacket
    • Fleece or Heavy Leggings
    • Insulated Pants
    • Gloves
    • Beanie
    • Neck Buff
    • Bikini for a quick dip!
  • 1-2 Sports Bras
  • Underwear
  • 2 Pairs Hiking Wool Socks
  • Clean/Comfy Set of Clothes for Sleeping

I’ll typically hike in the same pair of leggings if it’s a 2-day trek and just wear other layers each day, but if you’re going out for longer then you may want to wear different leggings.


Backpacking Extras

I recommend bringing all of these extras, but plan out what you can fit in your backpack and the weight you will be able to carry. Baby wipes are a must (obviously)!

  • Toiletries
  • Sunscreen
  • TP or Biodegradable Wipes
  • First Aid/Emergency Kit
  • Moleskin (for blister)
  • Kindle or Book
  • Map/Compass/GPS
  • Carabiners

Backpacking with  Photography Gear

This isn’t a priority for everyone, but I bring my camera gear with me wherever I go. If you want to document your trek, but don’t want the weight of the camera, consider bringing along a small action camera like a GoPro HERO9 Black.

  • A camera with a rotating lens or a GoPro, if you don’t want to carry around a heavier camera.
  • Drone
  • Extra Batteries
  • Extra SD Cards