If you’re not sure what to pack for your upcoming multi day hike then this 4 day backpacking checklist is going to help you figure out the gear you actually need.
In this post, I’m sharing the gear and basic essentials you need to have a good time on the trail. If you’re new to backpacking, you will find a lot of recommendations on backpacking gear that will last you a long time.
Keep in mind that this mostly covers women’s backpacking gear and you will most likely have to adjust it slightly depending on season and weather.
I’ve also included a free printable 4-day backpacking checklist in this post so that you don’t forget anything while you’re packing for your adventure.
Planning a trip to Alaska? Get started with my Alaska Travel Guide
- Backpacking Checklist: The 5 Big Essentials
- Backpacking Essentials: Safety Gear
- Backpacking Cooking Gear
- Cooking Stove and Fuel
- BearVault Food Container
- Water Reservoir
- Reusable Water Bottle
- Water Filter
- Camp Mug
- Camp Bowl
- Camp Utensils
- Coffee Maker
- Food Storage Bag
- Backpacking Clothing: What to Wear
- Hiking Boots
- Hiking Socks
- Moisture Wicking Shirt
- Moisture-Wicking Pants
- Fleece Sweater
- Rain Jacket
- Rain Pants
- Compression Stuff Sack
- Backpacking Toiletries: Good Hygiene
- Backcountry Wipes
- Hand Sanitizer
- Backcountry Trowel
- Toothbrush and Toothpaste
- Pee Cloth
- Backpacking Accessories
- Trekking Poles
- Portable Charger
- Ear Plugs
- Microfiber Towel
- Inflatable Pillow
- Hiking Gaiters
- Mosquito Headnet
- Book or Games
- Download Your FREE 4 Day Backpacking Checklist
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Backpacking Checklist: The 5 Big Essentials
The most important piece of gear for to add to your overnight backpacking list is your backpack. I’ve been using the same Osprey Aura AG 65 backpack for the last five years and it’s still in great condition.
The thing I love about Osprey packs is that they are actually built for women and fit really well. It also has a ton of pockets and places to store and attach items on the outside. There’s also a whistle integrated in the chest harness.
One of the coolest new additions to this pack (since I purchased mine) is the integrated rain cover. There’s nothing worst than ending up with wet gear on day 1 of your 4-day backpacking trip.
If you already have a designated backpack, you can pick up an Ultralight Raincover to protect your gear. Just make sure the rain cover fits the size of your pack.
The NEMO Dagger 2 Tent is a 3-season, lightweight tent that will keep you dry on the trail. It also comes with a dual-stage stuff sack which allows you to split the weight of the tent with your partner.
The best part of this backpacking tent is that it’s super easy and intuitive to put up. It’s really sturdy and will survive windy nights. There are also two doors so you and your tent mate can easily get out without crawling over each other.
The tent sleeps two people but it may feel a little tight depending on your size. If you have a dog or want a little bit more space I suggest sizing up to a 3-person tent like the NEMO Dagger 3 Tent.
I’ve been using the Sea to Summit Ultralight Insulated Air Sleeping Pad for many years now and it’s still in excellent condition. This sleeping pad is super lightweight and the regular size only weighs 15.8 ounces.
One of my favorite things about this sleeping pad is that it’s super easy to blow up and pack away. I always find myself being the first one to finish packing. 😀
Extra Thermolite® insulation provides that extra warmth for backpackers and I’ve successfully used this sleeping pad during the winter.
The next essential that you need on your backpacking checklist is a sleeping bag. The NEMO Forte 20 Sleeping Bag is a 3-season sleeping bag made with 80% post-consumer recycled content.
What makes this sleeping bag unique is its shape. Instead of the classic mummy bag you typically find, this sleeping bag is a spoon shape which allows you to comfortably sleep on your side.
This bag will definitely last you a long time but if it doesn’t, NEMO offers a lifetime warranty on it!
Backpacking Essentials: Safety Gear
First Aid Kit
A first aid kit is part of The Ten Essentials for hiking and camping. You probably hate the idea of carrying the extra weight but the more adventures you go on means you have that many more opportunities for accidents to happen.
Whether someone has an allergic reaction to a bee sting or you cut yourself, the Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight/Watertight .7 Medical Kit is definitely a piece of gear that you’ll want to have sitting at the bottom of your pack.
GPS & Satellite Phone
You will definitely want to pack a GPS and satellite phone for hiking. The Garmin inReach Explorer+ is 2-way satellite communicator and lets you text, share your location or call for help, even in areas without cell reception.
Keep in mind that you will need a subscription plan to send and receive satellite messages on this device.
Another cool feature is the GPS. It provides basic navigation so that you can locate yourself, follow trails, and find your way back. This means you don’t have to carry around a map!
If you plan on traveling, double check if the area you are visiting prohibits the use of satellite communication devices.
Using a headlamp instead of a flashlight at camp will free up your hands so you can easily cook dinner or read a book in your tent.
The Black Diamond Storm 400 Headlamp is really bright and has easy to change settings including full strength in proximity, distance, dimming, strobe, red, green and blue modes.
Don’t forget to pack extra batteries.
Bear Spray + Bear Bell
I live in Alaska so I’m always carrying bear spray on the front of my pack when I’m hiking. The Counter Assault Bear Deterrent Spray deploys a high-volume, atomized blast of concentrated spray to deter a bear attack. It sprays up to 32 feet and will completely empty in 7 seconds.
I also attach at least one Counter Assault Bear Bell with Magnetic Silencer to my pack. Bear bells help create noise to alert any animals that may be in the area. You definitely don’t want to surprise a bear in the backcountry.
Backpacking Cooking Gear
Cooking Stove and Fuel
I can’t tell you how much I love my Jetboil Flash Cooking System. This thing boils 16 fl. oz. of water in 100 seconds! It’s insane how fast it is. It’s a great item to bring if you only want to pack freeze-dried meals or need some hot water for your morning coffee.
It’s easy to carry as everything fits inside of the cup including the stove and your 100g fuel canister. I would keep some matches or a lighter with you just in case the igniter doesn’t work.
BearVault Food Container
When you’re backpacking in bear country, you want to make sure you don’t keep any food or strong smelling items inside of your tent to lessen the chance of bear vs. human conflict.
The BearVault BV450 Food Container will secure four days of food for the solo backpacker or a weekend’s worth of meals for two. Store it at least 100 yards downwind of your campsite.
Most backpacking packs have a slot to insert a water reservoir. I’ve been using a CamelBak Crux 3L Reservoir – 3 Liters for years and love being able to move it between the different packs that I use.
It’s a lot more convenient to drink water this way instead of having to stop and take your water bottle out every time you feel thirsty.
PRO TIP: You can get rid of access air in your water reservoir by turning it upside down, and squeeze out the air while holding the mouth valve open.
Reusable Water Bottle
Even if I’m carrying my water bladder, I always have a Nalgene Wide-Mouth Water Bottle – 32 fl. oz. with me. I like to do this because it’s a lot nicer to drink from a lid rather than a hose.
I also like to use water enhancer when I’m backpacking and I don’t want to mix it with all of the water I have on me.
Having a water filter will allow you to get water from nearby streams or lakes, and will allow you to carry less water on your back. The Platypus GravityWorks Water Filter System – 4 Liter will filter 4 liters of potable water in just 2.5 minutes!
Say goodbye to hand pumps because this water filter does all the work for you.
A camp mug is a must for any adventure. I have a Sea to Summit Delta InsulMug and I’ve been using it for a long time. It holds 16 oz. and will keep your drink nice and hot. My favorite thing about it is that it doesn’t burn your hands when you hold onto it.
One thing I like to do to save space in my backpack is store my coffee grounds inside of it.
My favorite piece of backpacking cooking gear is my Sea to Summit X-Bowl. This bowl is collapsible and lays completely flat. This saves so much room in your pack. Also, it’s super easy to clean out.
I used to get food all over my hands while I was eating from freeze-dried meals. Then I got the Sea to Summit Alpha Light Spork – Long and it’s amazing how much the extra length helps to avoid that mess.
I also use the Sea to Summit AlphaLight Knife to cut things like bagels or avocado. Both of these are made out of aluminum and super light to carry.
You can easily make drip coffee in the outdoors with the GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip Coffee Maker. The legs on the coffee maker clip to your mug and make it so that the cone stays out of the brewed coffee.
This thing only weighs 0.4 ounces and is seriously the best addition to your backpacking gear.
Food Storage Bag
When I first started backpacking, I never used a BearVault. I stored all of my food inside a LOKSAK OPSAK Odor-Proof Barrier Bag. Now, I still store my food inside one of these bags to help organize all of it.
One of the newest additions to my backpacking kit is a Stasher Reusable Silicone Bag. I decided to get one so I could continue to reduce my waste and store fresh items like a bagel sandwich or just some snacks.
Do you need help planning food? Here’s Everything I Ate Backpacking Over Four Days
Backpacking Clothing: What to Wear
You’ll never regret a good pair of hiking boots. Last summer, I switched to the Oboz Sapphire Mid BDry Hiking Boots and I have to say that they’re amazing.
These boots are waterproof, breathable and super comfortable. I’ve already put a lot of miles on them and they seem like they will last me a long time.
Oboz is great for their women’s shoes and I really like these because they come in wide sizes, which is what I need.
For a 4-day backpacking trip, I pack three pairs of socks. I switch daily between two hiking socks like the Darn Tough Women’s Micro Crew Midweight Hiking Sock.
I also pack these Smartwool Mountaineering Extra Heavy Crew Socks to sleep in. I love keeping my feet super warm and cozy.
One of the best feelings is taking off the hiking boots you’ve been wearing all day and slipping your feet into some sandals. Ever since my first pair of Chaco Z/Cloud Sandals, I’ve never looked back. These are the most supportive and comfortable sandals ever.
These are great to have when you’re hiking trails with river or stream crossings, and you can also wear them with socks!
Moisture Wicking Shirt
For a 4 day backpacking trip, you’ll include a few layers of clothing. I packed four shirts for this backpacking trip. I packed two short-sleeve moisture-wicking t-shirts like the REI Co-op Sahara T-Shirt. These are so comfortable and really flattering. I also packed a long-sleeve merino base layer and a t-shirt to sleep in.
Make sure you always have an extra set of dry clothes to sleep in.
I packed three pairs of pants. I packed two moisture-wicking ankle-length pants like the Patagonia Centered Tights. These pants are stretchy, durable, and dry quickly. I switched daily between two pairs of hiking pants.
I also packed a pair of merino wool base layer pants to sleep in.
The Patagonia Los Gatos Hooded Fleece Pullover is the plushiest and coziest hoody, and I never want to take it off. You’ll want to pack something similar so that you can switch out of your dirty hiking clothes and into some cozy camp attire.
If the weather is warmer then you probably won’t need to pack a fleece but I usually pack this while hiking in Alaska.
The Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Jacket is a rain jacket that will actually keep you completely dry. It’s also great as a wind breaker. The jacket has roomy front zippered pockets and pit zips.
You can also stuff the jacket into its own pocket, which makes it easily packable.
There are so many great features to the REI Co-op Essential Rain Pants. These pants are made with a 2.5 layer waterproof and breathable fabric. You can use the lower zips to vent your legs and easily take these pants on and off without having to take off your hiking boots.
These rain pants also have zippered side pockets to hold your snacks. They also pack down into their own pocket.
Compression Stuff Sack
I like to organize my backpacking clothing my stuffing my clothes into a Sea to Summit Ultra Sil Compression Sack. It’s incredible how much space you can save by compressing your items.
This compression sack comes in 6L, 10L, 14L, and 20L sizes.
Backpacking Toiletries: Good Hygiene
Whether you want to refresh yourself with a quick wipe bath or want to pack something other than toilet paper, the Sea to Summit Wilderness Wipes are a great item to have in your backpacking toiletries kit.
These wipes are soft on your skin and don’t leave any sticky residue behind. You’ll also love these when you’re camping on your period.
Another way to clean your hands along the trail is with some hand sanitizer. You can pack Dr Bronners Organic Hand Sanitizer or find another hand sanitizer that you can clip to the front of your backpack.
It’s important to follow Leave No Trace Principles and having a TheTentLab The Deuce #2 UL Backcountry Trowel will help you do that. This trowel is lightweight yet strong enough to dig a hole for your bathroom needs.
Toothbrush and Toothpaste
It’s time to swap out your plastic toothbrush for one that is eco-friendly. The Bamboo Toothbrush Set with Travel Case is a great way to help protect the environment. It comes with a travel case which is perfect for when you need to pack it away amongst your dirty hiking gear.
I also like to carry small tubes of toothpaste that I can refill as needed.
It’s important to protect your skin but often I find myself pretty covered up while I’m hiking. I don’t always wear sunscreen but I always protect my face with CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30.
I love this stuff and its part of my normal skin care routine.
My lips always get chapped while I’m out hiking so I like to carry Burt’s Bees Moisturizing Lip Balm. This lip balm is made with Beeswax, Vitamin E and a hint of peppermint oil.
The Kula Cloth is a reusable antimicrobial pee cloth. You can clip it to the outside of your backpack for easy access when you need to pee.
The best part of having a pee cloth is that you don’t have to carry as much toilet paper with you, making it a positive impact on the environment.
Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, a pair of trekking poles will give you the extra balance and support to climb hills or descend mountains. If you’re looking for an affordable pair, check out the Bafx Hiking Poles.
I wanted to get binoculars so I could scope out other routes nearby and spot wildlife. I have the Nikon Trailblazer ATB Waterproof 10 x 25 Binoculars which are super lightweight yet powerful.
If you love taking photos like me then you’ll need to charge your phone or camera. The Goal Zero Sherpa 100PD Power Bank is a great portable charger and will give you multiple charges.
You never know when you have to share a cabin with someone who snores, which is why you have to have a set of ear plugs. I can’t tell you how many ear plugs I’ve lost, which is why I like the Eagle Creek Travel Ear Plug Set. They come with a small storage container and make a great choice for any light sleeper.
If i’m going on a backpacking trip and the weather looks like it’s going to be wet then I usually pack a REI Co-op Multi Towel Lite. It’s nice to use a towel to dry off after a rainy day or maybe after soaking your feet in a nearby stream or river.
The extra large towel is big enough to wrap around your body and small enough to easily pack away.
Sleeping with a pillow while you’re out in the backcountry really brings the comfort of your home. The Sea to Summit Aeros Ultralight Pillow weighs only 2.1 ounces! It’s super easy to inflate and will only take you a few breaths.
An easy way to keep unwanted dirt, pebbles, or snow out of your shoes is by using Outdoor Research Rocky Mountain Low Gaiters. The hook-and-loop closure opens in front to get them on and off quickly, and the tabs at the top and bottom create a secure closure that won’t open while you’re using them.
Protect your eyes from the sun with a good pair of sunglasses. The goodr OG Sunglasses come in a ton of fun colors and if you go for the polarized lenses then the UV400 protection blocks 100% of harmful UVA and UVB rays.
I hate mosquitoes! They are everywhere in Alaska and if you’re hiking during specific times of the year, you’ll probably be hiking with mosquitoes buzzing in your ear. I’ve been on a couple trip where having a Sea to Summit Mosquito Head Net with Insect Shield was necessary.
Book or Games
I love getting tucked into my sleeping bag with a book in hand. It’s especially fun to bring an adventure book with you while you’re on an adventure… how meta. I love Wild by Cheryl Strayed. This book follows the journey of 22-year-old Cheryl Strayed as she hikes along the Pacific Crest Trail.
I hope you enjoyed learning about what backpacking gear to pack for your next backpacking trip. You can access my 4 day backpacking checklist below.
Download Your FREE 4 Day Backpacking Checklist
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Is there anything you would add to my 4 day backpacking checklist? Share them in the comments.