Choosing, acquiring, and dialing in your gear can be one of the most exciting, confusing, and often times overwhelming tasks when it pertains to long distance hiking or backpacking in general. Usually we take too much, leave out something essential, or realize a piece of gear is inadequate; never realizing until it’s too late. Here is a template of my thru hiking gear list with some descriptions to go along with each category. Lists keep us organized, as well as confident in the purpose, importance, and function of the gear we take with us. By following this outline you can be confident you’ve got every base covered…
Once you know how to build your list, check out the page “WHAT TO GET!” for more great ideas on gear for each category. You can also click on the title of any categories for gear ideas within that specific Category!
*Choose your pack wisely! It’s the first item in the “BIG Three” that contributes to your overall base weight.
*Within the pack category; include any and all accessories that go along with your pack. For example: Pack Cover for rain, a Pack Liner, or both. Perhaps the pack you’re using has multiple accessories it can come with. List them.
*Decide whether you want to hammock, tent, or tarp.
*This category in your list should also include everything pertaining to your shelter. For Example: Stakes, Guy Lines, Rain Flys, Hammock Suspension, Ground Sheets, Bug Nets, Etc. If it doesn’t already come with or attached to your shelter, then you need to list and acquire it separately.
*Choose the right Sleeping Bag or Quilt for you.
*This category should also cover your sleeping pad, as well as any other sleep accessories you might need. Some people will carry an inflatable or down pillow as well. Whatever you need that goes towards your comfort while sleeping…list it here!
*This is clothing you would otherwise not really be hiking in. This is the stuff you put on during breaks in cold weather, or to layer up at the end of the day or while you’re sleeping.
*This category will contain items such as: Down Jacket or Fleece Jacket, Base Layer Shirt, Base Layer Long Underwear, Wind Shell Jacket, Gloves, Thick Socks for sleeping, or any gear to keep your head warm. Think Beanies, Hoodies, or Balaclavas.
*This is mainly the clothes you will be hiking in. It’s totally up to you whether you carry only one set of hiking clothes, or two pairs. I used to carry two of everything, but now I only carry one set.
*This category will contain items such as: Hiking Pants/Shorts, Hiking Shirt, Hiking Socks, Underwear, Hat, etc. How many pairs of each of these your bring is up to you. You’ll be the one carrying it…
*These are the clothing and gear pieces that go towards shielding you from the wettest of elements. Some people don’t even carry rain gear, so it’s mostly a personal preference. You can check out “My Gear List” to see what I carry.
*This category can contain items such as: Rain Shell Jacket, Rain Shell Pants, Poncho, Umbrella, Rain Kilt, Waterproof Shell Mittens/Gloves, Etc.
*Depending on whether you even cook or not, this category can be very flexible. I tend to alternate between cooking, cold soaking, and cold eating while I’m on trail.
*This category will contain items such as: Cook pot, stove, Hydration/Eating Container, Spork/Spoon, Water Filter or Water Purification devices/chemicals, Containers to collect/store water (Water Bottles). If you like to get fancy with your cooking, you might add quite a bit more to this list. It’s your feast!
*This is another highly flexible category which may contain very few items, or a TON of items. It all depends on who you are and what your goals are while on the trail. I tend to list anything that might take a battery under this category.
*This category will contains items such as: Cell Phone, Wall chargers and cables, Head Phones, Head Lamp, Camera, Go-Pro, USB thumb drives, Battery Pack to charge your devices, and any accessories that may go with these items.
*This is one of the most overlooked categories – I think. I’m a very organized person, so everything I have goes into its own protective Stuff Sack. These can come in many different styles, sizes, and functions. For the most part there are two type of stuff sacks, regardless of size or style, and that’s “Waterproof” or NOT waterproof.
*Depending on how you like to organize your things, you may want individual Storage Sacks for: Sleeping Bag, All warm/cold weather clothing, Rain Gear, your Food, Cooking Stuff, Hygiene/Medical, Miscellaneous, Electronics, etc. It goes without saying, if the gear being stored is sensitive to moisture then you’re going to want to use a waterproof bag/sack. I’m paranoid, so almost every one of my Storage Sacks is waterproof – especially Sleeping Bag, Clothing, and Electronics.
*This Category can vary a lot as well. There are some items that universally go without saying, but depending on whether you’re a man or woman, hypochondriac or self healer; this category will be your personal preference for the most part.
*This Category will contain, but is not limited to: Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Nail Clippers, Tweezers, Athletic Tape, Duct Tape, Bandaids, Neosporin, Toilet Paper, Body Powder, Baby Powder, Vaseline, Body Glide, Feminine Care products, Brush/Comb, Sun Block, Lip Balm, Super Glue, Moleskins, Pain Killers, Compression Sleeves, etc. I’m sure you could think of more or less to put on here, but you get the idea. Only take what you think/know you’ll need. Some people go way overboard in this department, but luckily most of this stuff isn’t very heavy.
*Of all the categories, this one is the most flexible and versatile to your own needs. This is for gear that doesn’t definitively fall into any of the other categories. This Category is sometimes labeled as “Survival” instead of “Miscellaneous.” Many of the items of gear in this category are optional. Some people might see them as items they can’t live without, while others might not give them a second thought.
*This Category contains items such as: Knife, Lighter, Sewing Kit, 550 Cord or any type of rope/cordage, Batteries, Wallet, Bandana, Flint, Gear Repair Tools/Supplies, Fanny Pack, a gun/weapon, Sun Glasses, Watch, Etc. This is category where people usually end up taking things they don’t really need. Silly examples of Miscellaneous Gear I’ve seen brought are: Camp Chair, Machete, Axe, Thick Rope, Heavy Carabineers, Hatchet, and very large Combat/Hunting Knives. All of those could be viable on a shorter trip if they are necessary and you don’t mind carrying them. In regards to a long distance hiking trip, none of those are really viable.
*If you’re a fisherman, you may want to bring some fishing gear. You can check out my post “Fishing Gear” for ideas and recommendations.
*If you’re hiking with a dog, you’ll undoubtedly want to keep track of what you’re bringing for them.
*Items such as: Booties, Water and Food Bowl, Paw Salve, Medications, Pack, Food Bag, Toys, etc.
*Click on this category for Footwear ideas/Info