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How to plan for an Overnight backpacking trip

What to Take on an Overnight Backpacking Trip

Wondering what to take on an overnight backpacking trip? This article breaks down everything you need to know. 

Are you planning the backpacking trip of your dreams? Well, you’re most certainly going to need a backpack that will help you see through your travels, but you may be wondering: how does one plan for a backpacking trip? What essentials must you take with you? And most importantly, what skills do you need for a successful trip? This article will work as a complete guide for you and will help you identify a list of necessities that you must include in your next getaway. We answer the question of what to take on an overnight backpacking trip.

Backpacking Checklist Overview 

  • Hiking Backpack
  • Sleeping Gear
  • Headlamp
  • Kitchen Gear
  • Clothing & Footwear
  • Personal Hygiene Kit 
  • Personal Emergency Kit

What Skills Do you Need for an Overnight Backpacking Trip?

When it comes to an overnight backpacking trip, there are several skills one must possess. First of all, you must know how to read a map. Otherwise, you’re likely to get lost. Secondly, you need to know how to purify water and cook food to keep yourself hydrated and avoid a calorie deficiency. Additionally, you must be aware of how to set up your tent. Lastly, basic survival skills are a must. 

Backpacking Checklist Overview and more

Of course, this may all sound a bit serious and discouraging 一don’t worry. We’re not preparing you for a zombie apocalypse. Still, these skills will help you feel at ease, comfortable, and safe when going on an overnight backpacking trip. For instance, knowing some first-aid basics should be your number one priority. Check out this Emergency First-Aid Skills video to learn more.

What to Leave Behind for an Overnight Backpacking Trip?

When leaving for an overnight backpacking trip, there are some things you have to leave behind. A good rule for backpacking trips is that if you don’t need to use them while you’re on the road for work or camping, leave them at home.

How to Plan for an Overnight Backpacking Trip?

The essential hiking gear items are virtually always the same. Every traveler knows that your backpacking basics kit will evolve, and most of us are still improving our gear list. But despite our unique needs and conditions, the necessities always make the list.

No matter your degree of expertise, a list can help you remember important items. We’ll go over the packing list and how to choose the basic appropriate items for your overnight camping trip.


Backpack for overnight trip

If you’re wondering what to take on an overnight backpacking trip, you certainly can’t ignore the backpack itself. For an overnight excursion, a 30-50 L backpack should suffice. Longer trips (3-5 days) require a heavier pack (50-70 L).

Aside from trip length, bulky gear determines backpack size. The extra layers for a winter trip will add more bulk to your pack than a summer one.

Even if it’s not supposed to rain, bring a pack cover. Bring a modest rain cover or a large garbage bag.

To keep it short, you just need to make sure you’ve purchased the right hiking backpack for your overnight trip. 

Sleeping Gear

First, select whether you want to sleep in a hiking tent, tarp, bivy bag, or hammock. All of these options offer benefits and drawbacks and the best option is solely based on your preference and traveling conditions.

If you’re just breaking out your tent for the season, check it out before you go to make sure it’s not damaged in any way.

The type of sleeping bag you require depends on the weather. Prepare for the night by assessing your bag’s temperature/comfort rating. Find a bag rated at least 10 degrees colder than the expected low.

Sleeping gear and essential backpacking supplies

So, if the overnight low is 30 degrees, bring a 20-degree bag or less. Backpacking mummy bags give additional warmth and are easier to pack.

Next, evaluate whether your bag is made of down or synthetic materials. Both have benefits and drawbacks, although down is generally lighter, easier to pack, and more expensive. Although heavier, synthetics insulate well and dry quickly.

The weight, compressibility, and extended life of down bags make them a top choice for most experienced travelers.

A sleeping pad completes the sleeping setup. Remember to pack this. While a sleeping mat may seem like a mere luxury, it provides essential insulation and warmth.

You may also want to bring an inflatable pillow. For most hikers, stuffing garments into a sack makes a fantastic trail pillow.


We advise a headlamp, not a flashlight. Though some campers like the portability and strength of a tiny flashlight, a headlamp makes life considerably easier for most backpackers. It frees your hands when setting up or cooking in the dark. It also makes early morning or late night hikes safer.

No matter how short your trip, keep a spare pair of batteries on hand for emergencies.


When purchasing a new headlamp, pay close attention to the battery life. While extra lumens are wonderful, most backpacking requires little light because you move slowly or work close to your body. Lengthy battery life is great for multi-day trips.

For a more adaptable light, choose a rechargeable battery over disposable batteries. On longer travels, you may need to include a battery pack for field recharges.

Kitchen Gear

When the question of what to take on an overnight backpacking trip comes up, you can’t ignore basic kitchen essentials. 

Stove & Fuel

Overnight journeys certainly can’t be comfortable without a portable stove. An outside chilly morning is made pleasurable with a hot cup of coffee and a hearty breakfast. These can also be cooked over an open fire, but a camp stove can be safer to use and more convenient.

Pack your stove and fuel for backpacking trip

Having a camp stove and fuel makes cooking easier after a long hike. There are several alternatives for camp stoves. Hence, finding the right stove will certainly be easy when you evaluate how much you’ll be needing it. Additionally, open fire may not always be a great option due to safety concerns and legal issues. 

Equipment for Cooking

As you settle down for a meal you’ll also find that you need a cooking pot, mug, and cutlery. Consider a tiny cooking set that folds up. These usually come with one utensil, one cooking pot with a lid, and one mug.

Equipment for Cooking

A spork is ordinary tableware you’ll find in a portable kit. Do your homework and check product reviews. Plastic sporks are plentiful, but metal or titanium utensils will last considerably longer.


Dishwashing is easy with minimum kitchenware. Bring biodegradable soap and a packable microfiber cloth to dry dishes. With only a few dishes, you may be able to do without a dishwashing tub.


For overnight travel, a water bladder may be sufficient. But that shouldn’t be your sole option. Having a water filtering system on hand will provide you with the security and flexibility you need to have a safe and pleasurable walk.

Pack enough water for your backpacking trip

Bring a 2L or 4L water bladder along with your water bottle. 


As you pack your food for your trip, make sure you are not packing something with a powerful smell. Dry foods are usually the best option because they have the longest shelf life, especially when traveling. There are so many great options for backpacking food. Some are pre-packaged; just add boiling water.

When planning, consider beyond mealtimes. Bring lots of refreshments for your hike. Trail mix, energy bars, and fruit like oranges and apples are all wonderful choices.

According to your destination, you may need to keep food away from bears. Do your homework and pack a bear canister or bear bag if needed.

Clothes and Shoes

Three things to consider about backpacking clothing and footwear:

  • Wear moisture-wicking clothing. Cotton quickly absorbs moisture.
  • Pack layers and dress warmly. You can dress for the weather, but layering is the best strategy.
  • Before your hike, break in your shoes.


Backpacking doesn’t require daily pants and shirt changes. Backpacking life frequently means learning to live dirty (and maybe a little smelly).

Ideal clothing for when going backpacking

So, you may anticipate wearing what you had the day before on an overnight trip. But bring extra underwear and socks. It’s wonderful to have a new pair, and you won’t have much else packed anyhow.

The attire you should pack depends on the climate. Even if no rain is anticipated, it’s best to be prepared with a light waterproof jacket.

Having layers of clothing makes sense because temperatures fluctuate throughout the day. Changing one layer is significantly easier than changing an entire outfit.

Jackets should be part of your layering system, though the quantity and type of jackets you bring will depend on the weather.


Planning a backpacking trip requires hiking boots or trail shoes. They shield you from the rocky ground and support your feet. You have to trust that they will be there for you.

Hiking Shoes or boots should be grippy, light, and supportive. 

The right hiking boots or trail shoes for your backpacking trip

Know the climate and terrain. Consider wearing waterproof shoes or gaiters if you will be in a cold, rainy climate. If it’s hot and dry, try trail running shoes. Each journey and person has unique footwear demands.

Also, break in new shoes correctly. This can be done by going on day hikes or just wearing them throughout the house to break them in.

Personal Hygiene Kit

Personal hygiene items should be few, small and easy to keep together. Be sure to have your essential toiletries and prescriptions with you in an easily accessible place.

Bring a trowel for digging catholes and wag bags for garbage packing. Bring a sealable bag if you need to use toilet paper or wipes for sanitation.

Personal Hygiene Kit

Menstrual products are a vital item for female travelers. Even if you don’t expect your cycle to begin, you should carry some. You can use a menstrual cup instead of disposable items to keep waste to a minimum. Test it out before your vacation if you haven’t before.

Personal Emergency Kit

Most trekkers forget emergency or survival kit essentials. They’re simple to overlook because they’re not used daily. Even if you don’t use one regularly, they’re vital for backcountry safety. So add emergency gear to your list of camping essentials.

In addition to a first aid kit, a camping emergency kit should include a multitool and a whistle.

Personal Emergency Kit

Insect repellent and sunscreen are also very useful safety items on the walk. If you’re backpacking in a bear-infested area, bring bear mace.

While we’re talking about safety, your list should also include a dependable navigation system. Many hikers now use smartphones, but smartphones can die or break while you’re on the go with no way to charge or repair them. Having a laminated map and a compass as backup is a good idea.

Don’t forget personal belongings like keys, ID cards, wallet, permits, and phone.