What I'm Carrying With Me Out There

For me, one of the great aspects of the backpacking life, is the freedom you feel when you only have what you can carry on your back. I get asked what I have on mine quite a bit, so below you'll find a list.

The advice below is mostly for new hikers, or people just curious about what I take, because with experience your gear will be modified and minimized until it is unique to your own comforts and needs. Mine certainly has evolved over the years. Nevertheless, I hope my list can help out a new hiker, perhaps save them some money, or give new ideas to a seasoned pro to consider or criticize.

With new ideas, products, and materials becoming available every year, adapting your gear list is a never-ending process, so please feel free to email me your ideas or advice at grayson.ryan@gmail.com, or post a comment below. I will never learn enough, so this page will change as I change.

Click on an item below to get more information.

► Backpack - Kind of essential to carrying all my belongings on my back.
► Backpack Liner - Two Trash Compactor Bags, to keep my gear dry and as a ground cloth for a tent
► Shelter - One of two hammocks with a rain tarp, or a lightweight solo tent, depending on where I'm hiking.
► Sleeping Pad - For warmer, more comfortable sleep
► Sleeping Bag - One of two bags, depending on weather
► Cooking Supplies
► Food Bag/Bear Canister - To keep my food contained and safe from wildlife
► Water Treatment and Containers
► Clothing
► First Aid Kit
► Zip Lock Bag for Laundry
Bandanna - Tons of uses. Probably the most versatile thing in my pack.
Headlamp - with an extra set of batteries
► Zip-Lock Wallet - With a credit card, debit card, cash, photo ID, and health insurance card.
► Mini Bic Lighter - They are easier and more convenient than matches, and it lasts me a very long time.
Matches - Good to have a backup.
► Kindle - I keep it inside a zip-lock bag and a homemade foam protective sleeve. If I'll be on a long distance hike with a resupply, I take the charger as well. I can carry hundreds of books, maps, first aid and survival information, and any document I created myself. And it never weighs more than 7 oz. The battery can last a couple weeks on a charge.
► Cell Phone
- with Extra Batteries and a set of ear buds. I take short charging cable if on a long distance hike with a resupply.
► 40' of rope - I use paracord, mostly to hang a bear bag at night.
► 15' of braided mason's cord
-  Strong for it's weight. I use this mostly as clothes line, but it comes in handy for other purposes too, like tying water bottles together when going to fill them up, lashing sticks together for making a variety of things, or to repair a broken guy line on a tent or rain tarp.
► Toilet Paper
- Kept in a zip-lock bag. It's better than leaves, and makes a fantastic fire starter.
► Bug Repellent
- 100% DEET in an eyedropper bottle goes a long way. Just a dab on the back of my neck, wrists, and ankles. Nothing repels bugs completely, but it helps. DEET may dissolve some plastics, rayon, spandex, other synthetic fabrics, so I apply with a plastic baggie turned inside out. I ruined a raincoat with DEET on the back of my neck, so I wipe off my neck if putting a rain coat on (mosquitoes aren't a problem in rain anyway). This doesn't necessarily mean it's bad on your skin though. Vodka and Coke can dissolve a number of things too, but it's not harmful to the skin. Like all things, follow directions, wash off at the end of the day, and use in moderation.
► Camera - with extra SD cards, lens cleaning cloth, extra batteries, charger if on a long trip, and mini Gorilla Grip tripod.
► Journal and Pen - I just use a Pilot G2 ink refill as a pen. It's lighter and fits in my pocket better. I use a heat shrink tube to give it a nice feel. I write a lot.
► Map or Guidebook

► Compass
- I only take one if going off trail, or if a trail may not be marked well. I can always use the compass app on my cell phone as a backup, and some knowledge about the sun and stars.
► Safety Pins
- For hanging wet clothes onto my pack or on a clothes line to dry if wind might blow them off. Also, they may come in handy for gear repair someday.
► Knife or Razor Blade
- If in the middle of nowhere, or backpacking off trail, a good knife is probably the most essential survival tool you can carry. I'm usually on a well-marked trail though, and needing one for survival is unlikely, so to save weight, I'll just put a razor blade in my box of matches. I rarely need to cut anything bigger than what a razor blade can handle. 
► A Few Extra Zip-lock bags - I always find a use for them. Mostly used for waterproofing, food storage, and organizing.
► Trekking Poles - With some handy duct tape wrapped around them.

That's it. It's amazing what you can live without.


A Backpacker's Life Listt by Ryan Grayson is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.