Three Season Hiking and Backpacking Gear List

A womman with a backpack filled with gear
Paula ChampagneIt’s important to pack the 10 essentials for any outdoor adventure.

All of us aspire to travel through the mountains unencumbered, but experienced backcountry travelers and outdoor professionals understand that you need to pack essential items to manage risks, be comfortable, and have fun while on the trails. To help you prepare for your next hiking or backpacking adventure, here’s a checklist of all the gear items you’ll want to pack. Versions of this list are endorsed by all major land management agencies and respected outdoor organizations.

NOTE: This gear list is designed for three seasons (spring, summer, and fall). Winter adventures require extra layers and safety items—to view our winter gear list, click here.


Hikers looking at a map
Paula ChampagneRemember to pack navigation tools like a map and compass, and don’t rely only on your cell phone.

The 10 Essentials

You may already know the 10 Essentials for every outdoor adventure, including hydration, nutrition, navigation, emergency shelter, layers, illumination (headlamp or flashlight), firestarter, first-aid kit, repair kit, and sun protection. Here’s a detailed list of what to pack to assure your safety while hiking.

  1. Map
  2. Compass, and the knowledge to use one
  3. Warm clothing, including upper and lower body layers
  4. Warm hat
  5. Extra food and water
  6. Flashlight or headlamp
  7. Matches/Firestarter
  8. First aid kit and repair kit
  9. Whistle
  10. Waterproof and windproof upper and lower body layers
  11. Pocket knife


Setting up camp
Paula Champagne Camping gear like a tent, tarp, or hammock will keep you warm and dry on any backpacking trip.

Personal Gear

Once you packed the essentials, follow this checklist for all other gear needs. Some items you may not need depending on whether you are day hiking or doing an overnight.

  1. Backpack
  2. Sleeping bag
  3. Sleeping bag stuff sack
  4. Sleeping pad
  5. Small stuff sacks as needed
  6. Trash Compactor Bags (a heavy-duty version of a trash bag that can waterproof the inside of your pack!)
  7. Water bottles
  8. Water treatment methods (we advise carrying a filter and iodine tablets as a backup)
  9. Camp Kitchen Gear
    1. Bowl
    2. Cup
    3. Silverware
  10. Sunglasses
  11. Lip Balm
  12. Sunscreen
  13. Toothbrush and environmentally friendly toothpaste
  14. Moist towelettes
  15. Hand sanitizer
  16. Prescribed medications as needed
  17. Hiking boots
  18. Camp shoes
  19. Socks
  20. Underwear
  21. Bras
  22. Shorts or long pants depending on the season and preference
  23. Long underwear
  24. Warm jacket
  25. T-shirt
  26. Sun hat
  27. Gloves
  28. Bandanas
  29. Rain jacket and rain pants

Optional Personal Equipment

Beyond the essentials mentioned above, here are extra items that you may choose to add to your pack depending on personal preferences, the season, or terrain.

  1. Waterproof backpack cover
  2. Bug net
  3. Bivy
  4. Hydration bag
  5. Cell phone
  6. Emergency device (Spot, InReach, etc.)
  7. GPS
  8. Binoculars
  9. Liner socks
  10. Gaiters
  11. Vest
  12. Wind shirt
  13. Wind pants
  14. Camera
  15. Camp chair
  16. Small camping towel


cleaning dishes at camp
Paula Champagne If you’re camping, packing dishwashing soap and bins to easily clean up after dinner.

Camping Equipment

Everything you need for a comfortable overnight in the backcountry.

  1. Shelter (tent, tarp, or hammock system)
  2. Camping stove
  3. Fuel bottle/cannister
  4. Cooking kit, including pot, pan, pot holder, etc.
  5. Gray water strainer
  6. Food containers and bags
  7. Kitchen hand soap (biodegradable)
  8. Bear cannister/bear proof rope system
  9. Camping trowel

Optional Camping Equipment

  1. Fire pan
  2. Camp lantern
  3. Camping saw
  4. Camping shower bag

About the Author…

AMC Staff

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