Zen Backpacking Lightweight Packing List






Lightweight Backpacking Packing List



For backpacking, less is more.  You don't need every creature comfort or every piece of equipment sold at the local outdoors store.  Remember that everything you pack adds more weight to your pack, which is more you'll need to carry every step of your journey.


Item   Location Notes
Nylon long-sleeved shirt   Worn Nylon dries quickly and keeps you warmer than cotton; cotton works in hot environments but kills in cold or wet environments
Hiking pants   Worn Again, nylon and other synthetics dry quickly and cotton kills
Hiking socks   On feet High density wool worn inside out work best
Sock liner   Under socks Hikers prone to blisters may benefit from a thin poly sock liner under their wool socks
Light hiking shoes or trail runner shoes   On feet Light, comfortable and durable enough; heavy duty boots are generally not necessary
Quick release nylon strap belt   Through pant belt loops Light weight; can be used to secure cargo, as tourniquet, etc
Waterproof wrist watch   Left wrist Waterproof is really preferred; alarm may be useful if you are on a time schedule
Wrist compass   On wristwatch Attached to watch strap; usually sufficient for most backpacking
Sunglasses   Worn If not sunny, pack them
Backpack   Generally worn Take your time to find a good fitting pack
Mini LED light   Right shoulder strap Used to signal in group or see in dark
Bottle of water   Side pocket A durable Gatoraid bottle works just fine and is lighter and cheaper than a fancy Lexan bottle
Wallet   Outer compartment Small amount of emergency cash, ID, calling card, laminated contact list and keys (if taken); placed in Ziploc bag
Knife/mutlitool   Outer compartment So many uses; small pocket knife sufficient; Rambo knife not needed
Toilet paper   Outer compartment Stored in Ziploc bag
Female hygiene products   Outer compartment Needed if female and menstruating; kept in own Ziploc bag
Snacks (trail mix, bars)   Outer compartment A small amount in a Ziploc bag; don't go overboard
Map   Outer compartment Take just what you need; stored in Ziploc bag or waterproof
Lightweight pen   Outer compartment Used to leave notes and mark maps
Bug cream   Outer compartment Extended release DEET is best; store in bear bag at night
Real compass   With map Take if planning on orienteering
Headlamp   Outer compartment Allows you to walk and see at night; good for nocturnal potty runs
Bear bag   Main compartment See Below
Plastic trash compactor bag   Main compartment Used to keep clothing dry
Waterproof jacket   Main compartment Breathable material such as Gortex is preferred; this is a must in potentially wet environments
Soft jacket or pullover   Main compartment Packed when climate/conditions mandate; should fit under outer jacket
Extra shirt   Main compartment Synthetic quick drying preferred
Extra pants   Main compartment Synthetic quick drying preferred
Thermal underwear   Main compartment Synthetic or wool; need dependent on climate
Shorts   Main compartment Wear when washing and drying pants; used as swim suit
Trekking socks x 3   Main compartment High density wool preferred
Hygiene Kit   Main compartment See Below
Extra Ziploc bags   Main compartment Used to separate and waterproof any number of things; take a couple of small ones and a couple of larger ones; freezer bags are more durable than regular bags
Camp Towel   Main compartment or hung from pack to dry Fast drying; used to dry body and wring out washed clothing
Water bladder   Main compartment Enough to carry a days worth of water; more is needed when traveling through areas that have limited water points
Stove   Main compartment Choice of stove depends on many factors; gas canister stoves are the easiest to use and preferred for most backpackers
Stove fuel   Main compartment Remember that you will need enough to heat meals as well as beverages and it may be cold out there; don't over pack unless in sub freezing environments
Cook pot   Main compartment See Below
Mug   Outer compartment Titanium preferred for light weight; allows you to drink nice not beverages
Sleep pad   Outside of pack Not only provides comfort, it insulates back from ground
Sleep bag   Bottom Main compartment Down in dry environments, Synthetic in wet environments
Compression bag   Main compartment Used for sleeping bag; if room is not a concern, a plastic trash compactor bag can be used
Shelter   Main compartments Silnylon tarp usually sufficient
Bug net   Backpack Depending on where you are backpacking, may be required
Tent stakes   Main compartments Titanium hooks are very lightweight; Coated or painted with bright orange to make finding easier; store in piece of corrugated cardboard
Tarpline   Main compartment Used to set up tarp
Space blanket   Main compartment Used as ground cloth; can be used blanket or separate tarp
Daypack   Variable If pack does not have removable top, you may wish to pack a very small pack to use as a day pack
Cook Pot     Titanium and aluminum are nice and light; use the pot as a bowl if cooking fancy meals or to just boil water for freezer bag meals; store cook gear in pot when packed; keep in small stuff sack and hang with bear bag
Windscreen   Cook pot Needed for any stove
Waterproof match case   Cook pot Even waterproof matches need protection from water
Waterproof matches   Waterproof match case Even if your stove comes with an igniter, bring in case you need to start campfire
Match strip   Waterproof match case Used to ignite match; take even if you have strike anywhere matches
Tealights   Cook pot Used for night time lighting, heat and simmering foods
Thermal pads   Cook pot Used to lift and move pots; can be made from several layers of rags sewn together
Fire starter   Film canister Fill a film canister with Vaseline impregnated cotton balls; use to start fire in survival situation or to start camp fires
Bear Bag     Nylon bag with enough cord to tie bag to high branch; ballistic material generally not needed if hanging food from tree
Food   Bear bag Dehydrated and stored in freezer bags; put all in bear bag
Spork or spoon   Bear bag Makes eating grub so much easier
Cord   Bear bag Used to tie bag to high branch
Seasoning   Bear bag Minimize to small salt/pepper shaker and possibly small hot sauce bottle
Hygiene Kit   Backpack Nylon stuff sack; hang with bear bag
Toothbrush     Soft Bristles are easy on the gums
Toothbrush holder     protects bristles
Small tube of toothpaste     Small travel tube
Bottle of liquid soap     Use for washing, laundry and dish washing if needed
Disposable razor     If male and would like to shave; use soap lather to shave or pack shaving cream
Mini nail clippers     Take if on longer trips
Mini GUM dental floss container     Used for flossing, sewing and as string (such a for holding up bug nets)
Prescription meds     Carried if needed - this would also include extra glasses, contact lenses, birth control pills, etc. for those that need these; all stored in Ziploc bag
First Aid Kit   Backpack Small zippered nylon case; everything kept in Ziploc bags; kept minimal
Assortment of dressings   Ziploc 1 Band-Aids, Steri strips, 4x4 gauze pads, 2x2 gauze pads
Single use Betadine packet   Ziploc 1  
Betadine on cotton tipped applicator   Ziploc 1  
Alcohol swabs   Ziploc 1  
Antibiotic ointment pack   Ziploc 1  
Small roll of medical tape   Ziploc 1 Many uses - secure dressings, splinting, taping sprained ankles, make rope
Safety pins   Ziploc 2 Used to hold dressings and slings together; close large wounds; clear tongue from obstructing airway
Premium grade moleskin   Ziploc 2 Put on ideally prior to blister formation; several precut
Sterile needle   Ziploc 2 Carried in 3rd world countries for injections and used to remove slivers, pop blisters, etc.
Sterile suture pack   Ziploc 2 Silk with needle attached - can be used to sew skin or gear
Sewing needles   Ziploc 2 Heavy duty stainless steel keep in mini plastic holder; kept here so it doesn't get lost, but can be used to sew skin in a pinch
Vinyl Exam gloves   Ziploc 3 4 in own Ziploc bag - why get someone else's blood or body fluids on your hands?
Roll of sterile gauze   Ziploc 4 Air squeezed out of package and stored in own Ziploc bag; used to pack, cover and wrap larger wounds as well as make slings, tie up splints and make tourniquets
ACE warp   Ziploc 5 Used to warp dressings or injuries
Small bottle of Betadine   Ziploc 6 Kept in small Ziploc bag; used to disinfect wounds and water in a pinch; works better when diluted so a little goes a long ways
Medication card   Ziploc 7 laminated; reminds you dosages and when and how to use meds
Selection of meds   Ziploc 7 sample or blister packs of Katadyn chlorine dioxide (water purification), loperamide (Imodium), Tylenol (paracetamol or acetaminophen), ibuprofen (Advil), ciprofloxacin (for bacterial diarrhea) - if in areas of risk: metronidazole (Flagyl of amebic dysentery), Mebendazole (Vermox for worms), a bottle of doxycycline for malaria, and/or other meds; all kept in small Ziploc bag
Common Additions to List
Extra clothing   Backpack Needed if really cold
Sunscreen   Backpack Need dependant on individual and weather
Camera   Backpack or pocket Compact is easier to carry; may also require extra batteries or film
Mini can opener   Hygiene kit US military type is very small, with less mass than many coins; allows you to eat canned foods, which are not ideal for packing - but give you a pot/mug
Hat   Backpack Protect wearer from sun, cold, bugs and hides messy/dirty hair
GPS   Backpack Some backpackers can't navigate without one; these then to take away from backpacking and require batteries and an extra set if you can't navigate without one
Notepad   Backpack Journal type or waterproof; used to right notes, etc.; keep in Ziploc if not waterproof
Paperback, religious text, etc   Backpack Kept in Ziploc bag
Camp tools   Backpack Generally not needed unless living in the outback for a long period of time




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