Ultralight Backpacking Checklist | Advanced Backpack Review & Buying Guide

Ultralight Backpacking Checklist

Ultralight Backpacking Checklist

two ultralight backpackers on the Appalachian Trail

Choose the lightest-weight versions of the items on this list that you can find, afford or feel comfortable with. Organizing your gear into systems can be a good way to remember to pack what you need.

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Hiking System

  • Backpack
  • Pack cover
  • Trekking poles

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Navigation System

  • Map
  • Compass
  • Cellphone (opt.)
  • Solar/portable charger (opt.)
  • GPS (opt.)
  • Personal locator beacon (opt.)
  • Route description
  • Permits

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Shelter System

  • Tent, tarp, bivy or hammock
  • Guylines and stakes (if needed)
  • Insect mesh for hammock (if needed)
  • Ground cloth  (opt.)

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Sleep System

  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Pillow (opt.)

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Cooking System

  • Stove
  • Fuel
  • Mini lighter and stormproof matches
  • Mug and/or pot
  • Spork
  • 1” x 2” sponge
  • Small metal drain screen for rinse water

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Food Storage System

  • Food bag
  • Stuff sack for hanging (opt.)
  • Bear bag/bear canister (if required)

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Water System

  • Water filtration system
  • Purification drops or tablets
  • Soft-sided water bottles

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Clothing Systems

For Hiking:

  • Hiking or trail-running shoes
  • Synthetic or wool T-shirt
  • Hiking or running shorts (1 pair)
  • Hiking pants (1 pair)
  • Synthetic or wool underwear (2 pairs)
  • Sports bra
  • Synthetic or wool socks (2 pairs)
  • Sun-protective hat
  • Sun-protective gloves (opt.)
  • Bandana

For Camp:

  • Long-underwear top
  • Long-underwear bottoms
  • Warm hat
  • Wool or synthetic socks for sleep
  • Puffy insulated jacket or vest
  • Sandals (opt.)

For Foul Weather:

  • Waterproof rain jacket
  • Waterproof rain pants
  • Warm gloves
  • Waterproof gloves/mitts

Shop hiking clothing

Shop hiking footwear

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Hygiene/Toiletries System

Bring only as much as you anticipate needing.

  • Zip-top bags (varied sizes for waste, food, etc.)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toothpaste or baking soda
  • Small toothbrush
  • Biodegradable soap
  • Toilet paper (2-4 squares per day)
  • Pre-moistened wipes (2 per day)
  • Sanitation trowel
  • Menstrual products
  • Women’s pee funnel
  • Women’s pee rag (1/4 cotton bandana)
  • Prescription medications

Shop camp bathroom supplies

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First-Aid Kit

  • Blister pads
  • Gauze pads
  • Bandages
  • Antibiotic ointment (small packet)
  • Pain-relief pills

Shop first-aid supplies

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Miscellaneous

  • Headlamp or microlight with fresh batteries
  • Extra batteries (opt.)
  • Safety whistle (with neck cord)
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat with insect-mesh (opt.)
  • Gaiters (if needed)
  • Ice traction devices (if needed)
  • Ice axe (if needed)
  • Small amount of cash
  • Credit card
  • Itinerary copies (for friend + under car seat)

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Repair Kit

Bring only as much as you anticipate needing.

  • Gear-repair and/or duct tape
  • Sewing needle and nylon thread
  • Razor blade or small knife

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Luxury Items

  • Camera
  • Binoculars
  • Journal or sketchbook
  • Pen or pencil

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