Essential Gear for your First Overnight Backpacking Trip

12000962_1495662357424473_3299942768510788221_oThinking on trying an overnight trip for your next hiking excursion but don’t know what to bring or where to even start? I will cover the essentials of what I take with me on my own trips out into the backcountry!

Piggybacking off of my Day Hike Essential Checklist, Almost all of the items included for a day hike will be taken on an overnight hike as well.


IMG_22721. Sleeping Essentials

This is what will take up the bulk of your backpack, If packed strategically and with compression bags or ultralight weight compact equipment you can fit everything you need into your backpack! Remember, every ounce of weight counts.

On the left hand side of this photo is my tent which is loosely rolled and stuffed back into its green compression bag*  I use the McKinley Kluane 2 which is incredibly lightweight, easy to put together and break down and comes with its own compression bag for easy carrying. Typically I carry my tent on the bottom outside of my backpack as it is my longest item.

The top right hand side is my sleeping bag which is a Mountain Hardware Bozeman Flame -8C  in a Sea to Summit Compression sac**: a wonderful tool to have as it compresses my sleeping bags size to 30% of its true size, making it easy to place in the bottom part of my backpack for an even pack weight distribution.

Below my sleeping bag is my Sea to Summit Aeros pillow! It fits into the palm of my hand and is extremely light. Once removed from the bag it is blown up in a matter of seconds and stays inflated in adverse temperatures. 

Lastly is my sleeping pad on the bottom right: A Klymit Static V2 1 Person Sleeping Pad. It is extremely comfortable and keeps you warm and comfortable while sleeping on hard surfaces. It does not slip out from underneath you if you move around while you sleep (I definitely do)

It has to be blown up manually but blows up within minutes, it folds back down and rolls up easily for storage. Not only is this pad wonderful it is extremely small and lightweight making it a wonderful backpacking companion! 

* Ensure that you air your tent out and make sure it is dry before storing

**Be sure not to store your sleeping bag in a compression bag, the best way to store your sleeping bag is to actually hang it and allow it to “breathe”. This increases the longevity of the sleeping bag

2. Comfort, Organization and Hygiene


Far Left hand side is a pair of gloves for cold evenings or mornings, which is fairly self explanatory and worth taking even if you don’t think you will need them.

Center items include a toothbrush with toothpaste inside a green canister. This is perfect for travelling and keeps toothpaste and a toothbrush in the same area for easy usage and storage,  A small tube of sunscreen for reapplication throughout the duration of your hiking adventure and Sunglasses which of course are an essential for summer trips.

A microfiber pack towel (center) is extremely important for a multitude of reasons and is one of my most used items. It can be thrown in the wash once you get home and folded back up into its package for easy storage and use.

A small container of pocket soap (center middle)is a wonderful item to carry for cleaning up after a long day, washing your dishes or to clean out cuts and scrapes. Pocket soap is thin sheets of soap that instantly dissolve when they come into contact with water and are wonderful for camping and hiking!

Lastly, on the right hand side is a Osprey backpack organizer which keeps all small items stowed away. It unfolds and can be hung in your tent for easy access to all your small essential items and toiletries.

3. Safety


Left hand side includes a medical kit, SPOT tracker and a pocket knife which has been discussed in the previous post Day Hiking Essentials. Additional items for safety can include a bear banger and flare as well as a cannister of bear spray*

* Always check that your bear spray is not expired before heading out on a hiking trip!

A flashlight and headlamp are wonderful items to take with you for dark nights in the backcountry as well as for emergencies

A multitool is a great item to carry as well for a variety of reasons, it is your discretion if you choose to carry one or not. Every ounce counts!

4. Cooking Essentials

 You have to fuel up properly while you are out there! Dehydrated backpacking meals are absolutely wonderful to take with you: they are ultralight and come in a variety of food options from vegan, vegetarian and meat loving meals – most of which taste amazingly good too!

My cooking essentials include a 2 pots with collapsable handles, a stacking kit of cutlery, an enamel heat resistant mug, plus a camp stove with propane fuel and of course a lifestraw, just in case!

The dehydrated food packages serve 1-2 people – I typically bring a dinner, desert, breakfast and lunch package with me for cooking. They are incredibly easy to make and are high in protein, carbs and fats for sustainable energy while hiking. It’s tough work hiking, fuel up properly!

Cinnamon Muesli with milk is my all time favourite backpacking meal and makes a wonderful warm breakfast!


5. Osprey Aura 50L in Rainforest Green

Lastly, the most important item of all is which backpack you choose! An overnight hike with a heavy backpack that does not provide you with efficient support can make a fun trip into a miserable one very, very quickly.

I use Osprey backpacks exclusively not only because of their lifetime guarantee on all  backpacks but because they are extremely supportive, have a variety of compartments for storage and are extremely durable. I absolutely love Ospreys’ zero gravity hip belts and find that it makes a world of a difference when carrying a heavy load!

This backpack is the Osprey Aura 50L in Rainforest Green
it is a ladies specific backpack that is designed for a women’s body frame. It comes in various sizes to accommodate any size and is extremely comfortable! This backpack will likely last you for years to come with proper care and is well worth the initial investment.

6. Extras

1. Trekking Poles

I take my Black Diamond Trail Womens Trekking Poles with me almost every hike I do. They may seem silly to those who have not used them before (I thought they were ridiculous when I first started hiking) but they are extremely useful and can be broken down quickly for storage if you don’t end up using them! 

Trekking poles can help during the ascent and decent of your hike to distribute the workload through your upper body as well as your lower body. They are essential items for me on backpacking trips or steep hikes

2. Change of Clothes / Jacket

A change of clothes including a shirt, long pants, underwear and socks are essentials on a backpacking trip. A wind and rain jacket is a must as well in the case of adverse weather – Weather changes quickly up high and oftentimes cannot be predicted, staying one step ahead and being prepared for all conditions is a surefire way to ensure you safely enjoy the backcountry dry and warm!

3. Camera Equipment / Cellphone

I also carry my cellphone with me, usually turned off or on airplane mode to preserve battery life as well as my camera, lenses, filters and a tripod. Keep in mind carrying this type of equipment can add a significant amount of weight to a backpack.

*Disclaimer: All thoughts are my own and this list is my own personal items and experiences while hiking. Please use common sense while deciding to spend time in the backcountry.


14 thoughts on “Essential Gear for your First Overnight Backpacking Trip

  1. Thanks for the great post! I’ve done some wild camping and a lot of those things would be super useful. I never tried the dried food packets before but am thinking of giving it a whirl after your post 🙂


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