Yellowstone National Park Backpacking Gear List


Yellowstone National Park has more than 900 miles of hiking trails, offering ample opportunity to leave the crowds behind. Backpacking in Yellowstone is a great way to explore the more remote regions of the park and see spectacular wildlife, geysers and gorgeous high-altitude lakes. For more information about planning your trip, see our Yellowstone National Park Visitor Guide.

The following checklist is designed for a non-guided, non-winter trip in Yellowstone. If you’re part of a guided group, check with the guide company to see what items they provide.

Included in this list are the Ten Essential Systems you should have on every backcountry trip: navigation; sun protection; insulation; illumination; first-aid supplies; fire starter; repair kit and tools; nutrition; hydration; emergency shelter. To learn more, see our Ten Essentials article.

Yellowstone Backpacking Gear List: Printer-friendly version (PDF)


  • Backpack and raincover
  • Tent with guylines and repair sleeve
  • Tent footprint (optional)
  • Sleeping bag (15° – 29°)
  • Sleeping pad
  • Whistle, plus signaling mirror
  • Multifunction watch with altimeter
  • Knife or multi-tool
  • Compass
  • GPS (optional)
  • Map(s) and route description or guidebook
  • Trekking poles (optional)
  • LED headlamp with extra batteries
  • Water treatment system and backup
  • Stove and fuel
  • Matches or lighter
  • Cookset, dishes, bowls, utensils, cups (measuring/drinking)
  • Bear canister
  • Rope (30 ft.; for hanging food)
  • Repair kits for stove, mattress; duct tape strips
  • Fire starter (for emergency survival fire)

Clothing and Footwear

  • Wicking, quick-drying underwear
  • Wicking, quick-drying sports bra
  • Wicking, quick-drying long underwear
  • Wicking, quick-drying T-shirt and long-sleeve shirt
  • Quick-drying pants (for added tick protection) or shorts
  • Fleece jacket or vest, or insulated jacket or vest
  • Fleece pants
  • Midweight down or synthetic jacket
  • Waterproof/breathable rain jacket
  • Waterproof/breathable rain pants
  • Bandana or Buff
  • Sun-shielding hat or ball cap
  • Winter hat
  • Gloves or mittens
  • Hiking boots or hiking shoes suited to terrain
  • Socks (synthetic or wool) plus spares
  • Gaiters (for added tick protection)
  • Sandals (for fording streams and relaxing in camp)
  • Swimwear (optional)
  • Change of clothes to leave in car

Personal Items

  • Sunglasses
  • Water bottles (3) or hydration reservoirs
  • Plastic zip-lock bags
  • Bear spray
  • First-aid kit (see our First-Aid Checklist)
  • Quick-drying towel
  • Camera or helmet cam and extra memory cards (all optional)
  • Binoculars (optional)
  • Cell phone in waterproof case (don’t rely on service)
  • Satellite communicator or personal locator beacon (optional)
  • Field guide(s); star identifier (optional)
  • Outdoor journal, pen, reading material (optional)
  • Fishing gear and permit (optional)
  • Large garbage bags to keep items dry (optional; white recommended)
  • National Parks pass (yearly pass available from
  • Credit card; small amount of cash
  • Trip itinerary left with friend and under car seat


Many of the following items are optional; tailor the list to suit your personal needs.

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste (travel size)
  • Toilet paper
  • Sanitation trowel
  • Personal wipes
  • Women’s hygiene items
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher)
  • Lip balm (SPF 30 or higher)
  • Insect repellent (effective on ticks, mosquitoes and biting flies)
  • Tick-removal tool (optional)
  • Biodegradable soap
  • Deodorant
  • Dental floss
  • Spare eyeglasses or contact lenses
  • Prescription medications


Quantity varies depending on activity and length of trip.

  • Breakfast (oatmeal, granola, freeze-dried breakfast, etc.)
  • Lunch (bagels, summer sausage, cheese, smoked salmon, etc.)
  • Dinner (pasta, couscous, rice, freeze-dried dinner, etc.)
  • Snacks (cookies, GORP, jerky, candy bars, dried fruit, etc.)
  • Energy gels
  • Energy bars
  • Electrolyte replacement drink mix
  • Extra day’s supply of food

Related Articles

Yellowstone National Park Visitor Guide

The Ten Essentials

Backpacks: How to Choose

Backpacking: Training Tips and Exercises

REI Adventures Yellowstone National Park Trips

Yellowstone Backpacking – Bechler River

Yellowstone Backpacking – Black Canyon

Yellowstone Backpacking – Gallatin Mountains

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