Pack Packing 2.0


Here are some tips to pack a backpack for your next multi-day trip.

List of things I carry:
I tend towards a lightweight style.  You’re always welcome to add on that extra sweater, that daily change of socks and underwear, that roll of toilet paper, and all the spice jars on your kitchen shelf.  I tend to choose increased comfort in mobility and mileage over more camp or creature comforts, but this is a choice we all get to make before we start each trip.  So experiment with how much you can carry, or how little you need.  And have fun exploring!

Sleep system

  • Sleeping bag, waterproofed! (choose temperature and filling based on location, conditions, and your tolerance for sleeping cold)
  • Sleeping pad (waterproofed)
  • Tent body, fly, poles, stakes (I’m using a lightweight 3-season, 2-person tent.  If you want to go even lighter, options like MegaMid can give you the freedom to ditch the body and the tent poles while staying cozy, weather and bugs permitting.)

Cooking System

  • Stove (MSR Pocket Rocket is super lightweight and compact.)
  • Fuel (Iso-Pro all-season fuel blend.  If you’re planning on temps consistently below about 20*F, I recommend a white gas stove like a MSR Whisper Light.  “All-season” Iso-Pro can be taken with a grain of salt.)
  • Pot with lid and pot grips
  • Lighter (waterproofed in bag.  I keep a spare in my jacket pocket.)
  • Spoon (cut the end off to fit in the bowl)
  • Nalgene bowl (liquid-tight in case you want to save last night’s pasta sauce as a trail snack)
  • Small pocket knife


  • All food waterproofed (plastic bags work)
  • (These food bags can become your trash bags. Pack it in, pack it out.)
  • If you’re hiking in bear country, you might want to bring a rope to hang your food, or pack your food into a mini bear barrel.)


  • To hike, I generally wear base-layer top and bottom, sometimes with mid-layer top or hiking pants over them.  
  • I pack extra base-layer shirt and warm mid-layer pants
  • Change of underwear and hiking socks
  • Sacred sleeping socks (Starting night one, these socks will migrate into my sleeping bag where I’ll only wear them to bed, keeping them dry and clean all trip, and keeping my feet dry, clean, and warm each night.)
  • Thin, windproof gloves
  • Hat or buff for head and a neck buff (multi-use)
  • Rain pants and rain jacket 
  • Hiking boots (on my feet!)
  • I might bring a lightweight pair of camp shoes too (like Crocs or runners) depending on where I’m headed and what my goals are for the trip

Hydration system

  • I usually take 1 or 2 one-liter hard Nalgene bottles. (Water carrying capacity depends on where you are hiking.  In the desert, you might want a carrying capacity of more like 4L, in case water sources are few and far between.)
  • (If you’re bringing a water bladder: Congratulations, you are most likely watering the world much more clearly and copiously than I am.  Unfortunately, water bladders don’t always withstand the chaffing of packlife, so it’s important to carry at least one rigid bottle as well.)
  • Water treatment tablets.  (I use Aquamira drops or Iodine tablets.  Water filters can be great! Unfortunately, they do break (and often crack in freezing temps) so it’s usually a good idea to bring an indestructible backup treatment system like tablets or drops…. Which, to the lightweight packer, begs the question: Why bring the water filter in the first place??)

First aid and repair kit

  • Athletic tape, duct tape, Tenacious tape, seam sealer
  • Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen, Benadryl 
  • Spare batteries (for headlamp)
  • Ace bandage, gauze, Mole-Skin, and anti-biotic ointment
  • SPOT or PLB (or cell phone, of course! Good to have some way of making emergency contact if things get messy.)
  • (Tape, gauze, and anything else you’re carrying in your pack can be used to improvise a lot of bulky single-purpose medical supplies.)


  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Chapstick and sunblock

Et cetera

  • Maps
  • Compass
  • Pen and notepad
  • Book, MadLibs, cards, dice, your favorite poems
  • Camera (spare batteries)