My Backpacking Essentials

Mountain Views

While I’ve always had a love for the outdoors and camping, I only recently got into backpacking, carrying everything you need on your back from anywhere from one day to through-hiking a national trail.
Here’s a quick list of the essentials I always bring on a trip.


Depending on how long you’ll be on the trail depends on how big of a pack you’ll need. The trips I go on are generally 2-5 days, and I have a 65-liter pack. I carry an REI brand Trail 65. It runs about $189 and has a great assortment of interior and exterior pouches for small items, as well as straps for attaching items to the outside, which I always have to do because I over pack.

Trail 65 PackBackpack living


When sleeping out on the trail you want to make sure that you will be protected from most elements, as well as making sure to have the lightest tent you can. I backpack with a Mountainsmith Morrison 2 which run about $179. (I got mine on clearance for $129 at Scheels) While it would be less weight to use a single tent, I use a two-person tent to make sure that I have room for my pack, and Ripley inside the tent with me! The included rain fly keeps me dry in everything but torrential rains, and it is easy to set up and take down.

11-2010_morrison_2_man_citron_green_f Tent Life


Whether I’m on a five-day hike in the backcountry or a daytrip in the local state park I always bring my water bladder with. It is a Badlands 3-liter bladder which has a mouthpiece included for 39.99. Since it’s 3 liters it will usually last me an entire day in the backcountry with some left over. If I need to get more water while I’m on the trail I always make sure to bring a water filter with as well. I use a pump filter from MSR, a Miniworks EX water Filter that retails for $89.95. I’ve used it in everything from rivers, ponds, lakes, even puddles of stagnant water. With a ceramic cleaning element, bacteria and residue is taken out leaving you with clean drinkable water.

Water BladderWater Filter

Wearable Gear

Being comfortable in the environment of your hike is a little thing that you will be so grateful for when you’re out on the trail. Being prepared for the weather conditions could save you a lot of struggles during your trip. Even on short trips, I always bring a spare full set of clothes, including socks.


I hike in Merrell Siren Sport Q2 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots which are $130. They have ankle and arch support for long hikes, and were easy to break in during a daytrip. They are also completely waterproof which is great for missteps on the trail. I pair them with Smartwool hiking socks to keep residual moisture and any water that went over top of the boots at bay.


Depending on the temperature and climate where I’ll be hiking will determine the type of clothes I will wear. If I’m in the mountains in July I’ll wear Under Armor Heatgear shorts and a T-shirt to stay cool. If I’m up north in the Minnesota woods in October I wear Coldgear and lots of layers. Some of my favorites to hike in are this fleece from North Face, these leggings from Nike, and these heat gear shirts from Under Armor. Almost every overnight hike I go on I bring these things with because there’s a pretty good chance that I will wear them all.

*Bonus Items*

While these aren’t necessarily essential hiking items, they definitely can make the trip a little easier!


These insect protectors, UV shielding, headband/neck gaiter/face shield are always in my hiking pack, and usually with me during errands or chores, and even at the gym as well. At only $20, this is something that I could never replace in my pack.

Life-Proof I-Phone case

As a clumsy person, I always drop, toss, spill, etc. on my phone. On the trail this summer, my phone was in my back pocket when I slipped and fell down the trail on top of it. I was able to pull it back out and it was completely fine. I also was able to take some cool underwater photos in Glacier National Park with the same case. My phone will never be out of it on the trail

Chaco Sandals

For summertime camping these shoes are my favorite. For short hikes and giving your feet a breather from your hiking boots around camp. I usually wear these around town, to errands, and even with socks in the cooler weather. On a canoeing trip in the Boundary Waters these were my shoe of choice while paddling and portaging to our campsite.

Chaco Sandals


The unsung hero of my backpack, I will never go on the trail without some kind of duct tape. From first aid use, patching tents, and what I use it most for, covering blisters. Duct-Tape is a versatile tool that has saved me multiple times on the trail.

This is not all of the required items by any means for a backpack adventure, but they are the ones that make my life easier on the trail and beyond! Always make sure to get the supplies that work best for you, and fit your specific outdoor needs. Happy Trails!

Lake Views - Backpack

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