#Gear,  What/How To Pack

#Gear – What to pack for backpacking!

I will preface this post by saying a few things…

My slightly compulsive gear storage area! Completing this project has made packing and UNPACKING  significantly easier!

I am NOT an ultra light backpacker not do I have unlimited funds to go get the top level gear. I try to be practical with my purchases. I also like being comfortable, so I carry a few things that many ultra light backpackers do not carry, but they make me happy!
What I carry greatly depends on who I am hiking with, and what the hike will entail. When I am hiking with Zack/friends I don’t have to carry everything because we can split the shared items like a tent/bear canister etc!
In addition, everyone is different, so your list and what you deem “necessary” for a backpacking trip might be different! To me it is all about testing yourself and your gear to sort out something that works for you!
Photo of ALL of the gear I pulled out to see what I needed/didn’t need for my first solo backpacking trip!

I will use my first solo backpacking trip because this would encompass almost everything you could need if you were going it alone…
The photo above was my starting point… it includes things that I decided I did not need that got vetted out… like a bear canister (January in the North East USA it is not required), snow shoes (my hiking plans changed, so I didn’t wind up needing them). Additionally, some of this changes by the season, obviously you won’t need snowshoes in the summer (in most climates) and your clothing might change a little!
The photo also includes things you would not need in general… All of Nova’s gear would not be something you would need to pack, unless you had a 140lb dog accompanying you!!!

Gear for Backpacking – Does not include what I packed for my dog!


  • 65L Osprey Ariel
    • The 65L was the perfect size for Nova & I’s single night winter gear. I would say 80% of my backpacking trips the 65L has been a touch on the large size, but since it is my go-to bag I do not mind at all!
  • Rain Fly (Large Osprey)


Osprey Bladder with in-line Sawyer Mini
3L Bladder with in-line Sawyer Mini

Bathroom Needs:

My galaxy theme Kula Cloth!
  • Tampons (Yay periods!)
  • Kula Cloth
    • You can read my little review here: In summary… It is the most wonderful leave no trace solution to TP for #1!
  • Toilet Paper (for #2) & ZipBlock to Carry Out TP and Tampons
  • Poop Shovel

Safety/First Aid:

Sleeping Arrangements/Shelter:

  • Sleeping Pad
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sleeping Bag Liner
  • Pillow
  • Tent


  • Luci Light – For Tent Lighting
  • Hiking Poles
  • Tooth Brush & Tooth Paste
  • Body Wipe
  • Bandana
  • (1) Towel


  • (1) Pair of Boots
  • (2) Pairs of Socks
    • I always like to pack two pairs of socks… Putting frozen socks on the next morning is a horrible experience I do not wish to repeat!
  • (1) Pants
  • (1) Pair of Knee Height Gaiters
  • (1) Sports Bra
  • (1) Tank Top
  • (2) Long Sleeve Shirts
  • (1) Vest
  • (1) Down Jacket
  • (1) Rain Jacket
  • (2) Neck Gaiters (Buffs!)
    • Mine tend to get all snotty & moist, so I like to carry 2!
  • (1) Winter Hat
  • (1) Baseball Cap

Winter Specific – Traction Devices:

This is what my fully packed backpack looked like! (Again, please remember this is for a winter hike, so all of my gear was bulkier AND I had packed for Nova as well, so an extra sleeping bag, sleeping pad, towel, and food for her!)


  • Liz Young

    Loved your list, now for an on going debate amongst our hiking group. If you are carrying a sleeping bag, why bring a bivy? Some of us just carry our sleeping bags,while a couple of others carry both the sleeping bag and bivy. I have the two person that I use for my day hikes.
    Just curious on your answer.

    • andistillhike

      I’ll have the hike that actually inspired this coming up in a week or two.. But in short, we were hiking down at sunset with soaked boots back to our campsite and only had a few items on us (puffy, rain jacket etc). Our 140lb dog decided she was pissed about the snowmelt (which we didn’t expect when setting out on this hike) and she laid down stopped hiking. Even refused to move with bribes and trying to pick her up. We spent over an hour (of sunlight) trying to convince her to continue to walk. If we hadn’t been able to get her to keep hiking we would have either had to split up so someone could get our sleeping set up (aka warm things for survival) or help.
      After that experience we decided that if any one of us got hurt and couldn’t be evacuated by the others we would want SOME kind of survival tool with us at all times to make it through a night. We chose 2 person bivy’s so the dog and a human could fit inside.
      Hope this helps with your debate!
      Plus, an added bonus, if your sleeping bag got soaked or wasn’t warm enough it is always another way to add warmth in a pinch!

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