We’ve put together a comprehensive 5 Day Backpacking Gear List for you, covering everything from your essential clothing and supplies to must-have camping equipment and safety essentials.
This is not just a backpacking packing list beginners will enjoy – it’s for everyone! An essential 3-5 day backpacking checklist is ever-evolving and as you practice you can customize things for your own needs.
If you’re looking to go on a 3-5 day backpacking trip in the near future, you’ll definitely need to make sure you have all the necessary gear.
We’ll also provide tips on packing and preparing for your journey so that you can feel confident that you have everything you need.
Shorter trips are easier to plan for but this 5 Day Backpacking Gear List is helpful even for those 1-2 nights away in the wild. Overnight trips and even day hikes are excellent ways to work yourself up to longer backpacking adventures!
5 Day Backpacking Gear List
Focus on including the essentials, only, as you decide what to pack for a 5 day backpacking trip! Every ounce counts and a few extra items that are not necessary can make or break the weight of your pack as well as your comfort carrying it.
The weight of your backpack should not exceed 20% when hiking long distances. A heavy load can make you feel unstable on the trail and put you at risk of injury. So, keep this ratio in mind before packing up!
In addition, thoroughly check the average temperatures of your destination and the extended forecast to better prepare for your hike.
Core Backpacking Items
This section of the 5 Day backpacking gear list covers your essential hiking gear, shelter, and sleeping needs. These are the items you should seek out the most lightweight and functional options for as they tend to be the heaviest.
1. Hiking Boots
Durable and comfortable hiking boots are definitely one of the most important pieces of a successful backpacking trip!
Your feet are some of the most important parts of your body while backpacking, so it’s crucial to invest in a good pair of hiking boots that will keep them safe and comfortable on the trail.
When carrying a heavy pack and hiking longer distances good quality hiking boots, rather than hiking shoes, provide security for your feet and ankles. Look for sturdy construction, strong arch support, and plenty of cushioning to prevent blisters and other injuries.
I have personally been a fan of Asolo hiking boots for more years than I can count. Their boots have only improved over the years, especially in terms of weight.
2. Hiking Poles
Whether you’re going uphill or downhill, walking with a heavy pack can put a lot of strain on your body. Having some sturdy hiking poles can help take the pressure off and make your journey more comfortable.
Look for durable but lightweight poles that are easy to adjust and won’t break on you during your trip. When not in use, you can strap the poles to your backpack.
✅ BEST Overall Women’s Trekking Poles:
Black Diamond Women’s Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Pole
✅ BEST Overall Men’s Trekking Poles:
Black Diamond Men’s Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Pole
Your backpacking tent needs to be lightweight, easy to pack, and simple to set up and break down. It also must to be the correct size for you and your gear plus be able to provide shelter from the rain, wind, and other elements.
Optional to include is a lightweight dropcloth. It can come in handy for protecting your gear from the elements and you from the damp ground.
You never want to be fussing with set up, feeling stressed about getting up as the light begins to disappear at the end of your full day of hiking. Test your tent before your trip and become an expert at set up and break down.
Look for sturdy poles and seams, as well as extra features like vestibules. If you’re venturing out in winter weather, look for a four-season tent made to withstand the weight of snow, such as the Hyperlite I list below.
✅ BEST Overall Lightweight Backpacking Tent:
NEMO Hornet Elite OSMO Ultralight 2P Tent
✅ BEST Premium Lightweight Backpacking Tent:
Hyperlite Ultamid 2 Pyramid Tent (insert sold separately)
A good quality backpack is a must-have for any backpacking trip, but it’s especially important to have one that is lightweight yet durable enough to withstand the demands of the elements. Look for a 55-70L backpack for a 5-day trip.
Look for reinforced seams and sturdy padded straps, as well as plenty of pockets and compartments to keep your belongings organized and secure. Depending on your height and torso length, there are a couple of pack companies with options I recommend highly.
Osprey makes phenomenal packs, many with incorporated raincovers and suspended mesh back panels. Our whole family uses them.
In addition, Hyperlite is the ultimate lightweight premium option that you should strongly consider investing in. Their packs weigh in at only 2lbs!
5. Sleeping Bag
Your sleeping bag is one of the most critical pieces you’ll have on your backpacking trip. Choose one that’s lightweight and comfortable, but also warm enough to keep you protected through the night depending on the season and location you are camping at.
Look for a down or synthetic material that won’t take up too much space in your pack, and be sure to test it out at home before you head out on your trip.
My favorite sleeping bags hail from Sea to Summit. You can search HERE for the BEST option for the climate you are heading backpacking in or check my recommendations below.
6. Sleeping Pad
A comfortable sleeping pad is crucial if you’ll be camping out on the ground. Speaking from a lot of experience, lack of sleep can really put a damper on your days of hiking. Tossing and turning from discomfort all night long is exhausting.
Look for a sleeping pad that is lightweight and easy to transport, and make sure it is thick enough to provide cushioning and insulation from the cold ground.
I recommend Sea to Summit’s 4″ thick sleeping pads if you are a side sleeper like me. I have tried a LOT of sleeping pads over the years and I am willing to go with a few extra ounces over less comfort.
The below link is for the unisex version but I highly recommend getting the women-specific option if you are female. It is narrower at the shoulders and wider between the hips and the knees.
A good compact packable inflatable or stuffable pillow can make all the difference when camping. It may seem like a frivolous luxury item but I can assure you, it is not.
The pillow goes hand in hand with a good sleeping pad. It can make or break a good night of sleep for many! Consider one that pairs specifically with your sleeping pad such as this Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow that only weighs 2.8 oz.
✅ BEST Backpacking Pillow: Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow
What you bring for your stove and accessories will largely depend on what your chosen meals are for the trip. Keep things simple! Using your own homemade dehydrated meals and snacks is a great idea, especially if you will have easy access to water on your backpacking trip.
Also, Good To-Go makes delicious dehydrated meals with healthy ingredients. I highly recommend them! Count out your required meals bringing the correct amount plus two extras, just in case.
8. Backpacking Stove and Fuel
Be sure to pack a stove that is lightweight and easy to assemble (as well as the fuel to keep it running) such as the MSR Pocket Rocket. Optimus is also a well-trusted brand. We have used our Optimus Nova for all our backpacking needs for decades.
The Optimus Vega is an easy option that runs off of canister fuel instead of refillable bottles, like the Nova. It is the perfect option even in cold weather.
✅ BEST Canister Stove for Backpacking: Optimus Vega
9. Lighter and Stormproof Matches
Pack a reliable lighter but also a set of stormproof matches, just in case. Most outdoor supply stores or even your local grocery store have decent lighters and waterproof or stormproof matches.
I cannot express strongly enough how important it is to keep your cookware simple and lightweight. This is not the time to get fussy about needing different pans for different things.
Be sure to choose a set that is easy to clean and doesn’t take up too much space in your backpack. My husband and I have been using Snow Peak cookware exclusively for over 15 years and recommend their items highly!
✅ BEST Lightweight Solo Cookset:
Snow Peak Titanium Mini Solo Cookset
11. Small Sponge, Towel and Soap
Bring a tiny sponge and a bit of unscented soap to get the grime off of your cookware and mug from time to time. This is a personal preference and totally optional but I prefer to keep my things washed.
I use unscented Dr. Bronner’s for the soap and the Sea to Summit Drylite Towel to clean up after eating. I always do this AWAY from camp and AWAY from water! Please never wash your dishes with soap in a stream, lake, or river.
An insulated mug will keep your coffee or tea hotter for much longer than a thin more-lightweight mug. Whatever you choose, be sure is not too heavy.
Lucky for us backpackers, several companies make insulated lightweight titanium mugs that won’t weigh our packs down. I am not kidding when I say we saved up for a pair of insulated mugs for ourselves one year to up our coffee game on chilly backcountry mornings!
✅ BEST Insulated Mug for Backpackers:
Snow Peak Double Wall Mug
A multi-tool can come in handy for all sorts of tasks while backpacking but some can be heavy. Foldable knives are also fantastic tools but heavier. The Atmos is a really good one if you have your heart set on bringing one. It only weighs 1.9 oz.
Otherwise go for the classic “Swiss Army Knife” – great for everything from fixing broken gear to trimming thread. Plus they have scissors, which are a must for any backpacking trip. It weighs 0.7 oz.
✅ BEST Backpacking Victorinox Swiss Army Classic
Staying properly hydrated is an absolute MUST when you are in the backcountry! Water is equally important to food for your well-being and recovery while on your trip.
15. Water Filtration
A water filter is an essential item for any backpacking trip as it allows you to drink from streams and other bodies of water without fear of getting sick. Look for a water filter that is lightweight and easy to use.
The Katadyn Hiker Pro Microfilter is perfect for backpacking trips. Also, make sure to bring along plenty of replacement filters if needed. rips. It is lightweight and compact, and it filters out 99.9% of bacteria and parasites.
✅ BEST Backpacking Water Filter:
Katadyn Hiker Pro Microfilter
16. Water Storage
A 2 Liter Water Bladder is best for storing water for long backpacking trips and hikes. I am partial to Osprey’s water bladders since they are compatible with my packs but many folks find them fussy. I have not. The CamelBak Fusion Reservoir is another great option.
Backpacking Navigation and Safety
Getting lost or hurt is every hiker’s worst nightmare. Therefore, it is important to be prepared for any situation that might arise while you are on a backpacking trip.
Most importantly, be prepared for the worst-case scenario and have an emergency plan in place for what you will do if you are injured or become stranded.
17. First-Aid Kit
A good first-aid kit is an absolute essential for any outdoor adventure, so please be sure to pack one. Make sure it includes supplies for treating blisters, cuts, and other injuries.
We recommend this pre-packaged first aid kit but we also use our own patched together bag of our favorite first aid items customized for each trip.
18. Compass and Map
Even if you’re familiar with the area, it’s always a good idea to carry a compass and map with you in case you get lost or need to find your way back to camp.
GPS and mapping software on your phone can help take the guesswork out of navigation, making it easy to stay on track even in unfamiliar territory. BUT, you will need to keep your battery charged and have a signal.
With these tools at your disposal hopefully you’ll never have to worry about getting lost on your next hike!
Headlamps are a must-have for any hiker. I have owned and heavily used my Petzl Actik Core headlamp for about five years now and of all my headlamps ever, this one is my favorite.
The light output on this Petzl is superb, it’s not fussy and very easy to use. The battery is rechargeable. There are many options out there. Read the reviews and choose wisely.
✅ BEST Backpacking Headlamp: Petzl Actik Core
20. Repair Kit and Items
A backpacking repair kit is essential for fixing any broken gear while on the trail. Be sure to pack a few basic supplies in it such as a needle and thread, patches for your sleeping pad, duct tape, and safety pins.
Pieces of Gear Aid Tenacious Repair Tape and S.O.L. Travel Duct Tape are great items to bring along. If you’re unlucky enough to break your gear, you’ll be glad you have a repair kit to help get you back on your way.
21. Emergency Shelter and Whistle
If you’re caught in bad weather or find yourself stranded or injured in the wilderness, it’s important to have emergency shelter at your disposal.
We carry these SOL Emergency Bivvy kits with whistles in our packs! It’s a heat reflective and breathable bag and it will keep you warm in an emergency.
22. Sunscreen, Lip Balm and Bug Repellent
Choose a sunscreen with a high SPF and long-lasting Sport formula. Be sure to reapply regularly, especially at high elevations where you are more exposed.
Add in a lipbalm with sunscreen too! As for bug repellent, opt for one that you are comfortable using that works well.
23. Small External Battery
This is optional but in the world of cell phones and more it seems like a must have for most. We like the Goal Zero Venture 35 Portable Charger Power Bank despite the obvious fact that it is not super compact nor lightweight at 10.1 ounces.
However, it is super reliable and will charge your phone three times. Don’t forget your cable!
Backpacking Hygiene and Waste
Whether you are out in the backcountry for a day or an entire week, it is important to take care of your body and stay clean. This means washing your hands regularly, brushing your teeth, and keeping clean down there.
With these supplies and tips in mind, you can stay clean, healthy, and happy while backpacking in the great outdoors.
24. Hand Sanitizer
Using sanitizer is a great way to disinfect your hands when there is no access to soap and water. It is also a great way to disinfect your hands after using the bathroom. Use one that is not scented so bear are not attracted to you!
25. Toothbrush and Toothpaste Tablets
Use a foldable travel toothbrush and toothpaste tablets to save on space. I love the metal container the tablets come in because the scent is not as detectable and no one wants bear sniffing around your tent.
Be mindful of how you are disposing of your waste and keep a small shovel and on hand for digging cat holes.
The GSI Outdoors Cathole Trowel is a great option and weighs in at only 3.1 oz.
27. Travel Bidet
Skip the toilet paper! Unless you want to be packing out your dirty bathroom tissue (please don’t bury it!) then practice using a travel bidet. You will be pleasantly impressed with how well this works AND keeps you clean!
✅ BEST Backpackers Bidet: TUSHY Travel
28. Kula Cloth
Ladies, if you don’t know about the Kula cloth yet, now is the time to find out! Again, skip the toilet paper! I always have my Kula cloth on my pack, even on day hikes. You can see it below, hanging on the zipper loop.
Kula also sells the CuloClean, which is another travel bidet option. It is just the top part and it which is then compatible with any plastic bottle.
Despite our efforts when backpacking, we never get that clean hand feel as well as when we use a hand wipe once or twice a day, especially before eating. Many companies sell compact travel size packages.
30. Ziploc Bags
It’s wise to have a gallon-size and a quartisize Ziploc bag to put empty dehydrated food bags in as well as used hand wipes. Sometimes socks will get wet and need a place to be stored or anything else that you need to separate off can go in a bag.
DO NOT wear cotton. Just don’t do it. Cotton takes too long to dry and is heavy. Layering with synthetics and/or wool is the way to go. Learning to layer properly in the outdoors is an essential skill that becomes easier with practice!
31. Lightweight fleece or jacket
Even in the warmest weather it is a good idea to have something to protect you in unexpected climate changes. Choosing something wind-resistant is wise.
32. Breathable Underwear
Again, don’t wear cotton. Choose a sporty fabric for your underwear. Don’t pack so many pairs that you chuckle at yourself after your trip is over.
Wool is 100% my fabric of choice for baselayers. It is breathable, naturally repels odors, keeps me warm yet also cools me down when needed. I have a love affair with Ibex baselayers. Check them out if you are not familiar with them.
34. Moisture-Wicking T-shirts
Pack two for weather when t-shirts are appropriate. One may get so smelly you want to throw it out. In that case, put it in a stuff sack and trade it out mid-trip for the fresh clean second shirt and move on. Laundry awaits you at the end of your trip.
35. Long-sleeve shirt
Pack 1-2 depending on the temperature. A long sleeve sun protection shirt is always a great idea!
I have a favorite Patagonia Capilene Hoody that goes on all my milder weather day hikes and backpacking trips. It keeps me protected from bugs and takes the bite off of a cool breeze. It is super lightweight yet functional.
36. Quick-drying pants/shorts
Using convertible pants is an attractive option if you will be in both warm and cool weather. One or two pairs of these will work for the entire trip.
I like to pack both ankle height socks and taller hiking socks so I have options depending on the temperature. No matter the style, be sure you choose good quality wool socks such as Darn Tough or Smartwool so they wick easily and breathe.
38. Seasonal/Optional: Rainwear, Sunglasses, Gloves or Mittens and a Warm Hat
Depending on the climate and the season as well as the forecast, you may need one or more of the above items. You have to make a plan for your situation.
Some folks always need sunglasses when outdoors, so that’s a personal decision as to whether you bring them or not. I always bring a thin beanie, just in case, unless it is hot summer weather.
The final important factor in packing for your backpacking trip is organization! You never want to load everything into your pack loosely, hoping for the best.
39. Stuff Sacks and Pods
Our camping pin has a large number of stuff stacks in it to choose from for each trip. Stuff sacks are used to separate food, clothing, cooking set, and tools (headlamps, etc) from one another so items stay tidy.
✅ We also really like using the pod system by Hyperlite.
Check them out!
40. Miscellaneous and Personal Items
Keep a small zippable pouch in your pack exclusively for items such as your ID, backcountry camping permits, car keys, cash, and so on. Don’t pack too many of these items but some are unavoidable and necessary.
FAQs: 5 Day Backpacking Gear List
When it comes to backpacking gear, there are a lot of questions that come up, especially for beginners. Hopefully these tips help you feel even more prepared.
How do I prepare for a 5 day backpacking trip?
✔️ Start by doing research on the planned route and conditions to get an idea of what you might need.
✔️ Next, choose your gear and pack as lightly as possible while still ensuring that you have all the essential items.
✔️ Make a plan for water, food, and shelter and be sure to bring enough supplies to last the duration of your trip.
✔️ Finally, practice packing your backpack and test out any gear that you haven’t used before to make sure it works as expected.
✔️ Other tips for preparing for a backpacking trip include staying physically fit, learning survival skills, and when possible, traveling with a companion.
With these tips in mind, you can feel confident that you are ready for your next backpacking adventure!
What should you not bring backpacking?
Even though there are a lot of fun gadgets you might want with you on a backpacking trip, you can’t take everything! You should not bring any unnecessary items with you as every extra pound will only slow you down.
Be sure to pack only the essentials, as you don’t want to be carrying more gear than you need. That being said, there are a few items that you should definitely leave at home, including:
- Cotton Clothing
- Too much extra food
- Extra bulky clothes
- Solar shower
- Toilet Paper
The Wrap Up: 5 Day Backpacking Gear List
Being well-prepared with good quality gear that protects you from the elements and supports you during your backpacking trip is essential to your success.
Don’t forget to practice setting up and disassembling your tent, packing and unpacking your backpack, using your stove, inflating and deflating your sleeping pad and more.
Most importantly, enjoy your epic adventure and be sure to share any helpful advice you have in the comments below!