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The Complete Backpacking Checklist for Travelers

Warm Winter Backpacking Destinations

Exploring the great outdoors with only what you can carry on your back is a liberating, unique feeling that travelers around the world chase. Whether you prefer secluded beaches, pristine mountaintops, or hidden valleys, making it a backpacking trip adds an incredible layer of adventure.

A lot of preparation goes into a successful backpacking trip, though. It’s more complicated than packing a tent and some trail mix. Most travelers learn this by experience, and it can take time to know where to start.

With this checklist, backpacking on your next trip into nature should be easier and more enjoyable to plan. We’ve tried to think of everything the average hiker might need while off-the-grid (and maybe even everything the less-than-average hiker, like myself, would need!)

Read on to see the complete ViaTravelers backpacker gear guide and our top tips for exploring the beautiful world. We’ve also included the specific products you’d find in our packs.

How to Choose the Right Backpacking Gear

Warm Winter Backpacking Destinations

Search for backpacking gear on Amazon, and you’ll find more results than any human could sort through. That’s because not all backpackers or backpacking trips are created equal, and it’s important to shop with your destination, capabilities, experience, and other conditions in mind.


Your budget is the first thing you’ll want to consider when purchasing your backpacking gear. If backpacking is something you’ll be spending a lot of time doing, whether it’s going on an extended trip or multiple backpacking trips throughout the year, you’ll want to invest in pieces that are durable and can last throughout the years. This may mean spending more on higher-quality items, especially regarding your backpack, camping gear, and footwear.

If you’re a novice backpacker just looking to dabble into the backpacking life, saving on certain items (like clothing) and cutting down to the bare essentials is the best way to go. If you love it, you can invest in more expensive items that will last years and years.


Your equipment for backpacking will greatly depend on the type of activities you like and plan to do on your future trips. For example, if you plan to do a lot of hiking, you’ll definitely want a sturdy pair of hiking boots and a pair of trekking poles. If water sports like kayaking are on your list, you’ll definitely want to add a dry pack to your list.

Conversely, if you know you won’t be…

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