Our backpacking gear list for multi-day adventures

What's in my backpack on overnight adventures? Here's my backpacking gear list for multi-day and overnight hikes in the backcountry.

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Close access to fantastic hiking, running and backpacking trails is one of the things I love most about Atlanta. From in-town hikes to remote mountain trails, like the southern end of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, outdoor adventures are within easy reach of Atlanta’s limits.

While I love day hikes, there’s just something awesome about spending a night – or a few – under the stars on the trail. Backpacking takes me away from the flurry of the city and settles me in a campsite on a mountain summit where time moves at a much gentler pace. And catching a sunrise from a hammock, with a hot cup of coffee in hand, does wonders for putting life back into perspective.

What to pack on a backpacking trip? My backpacking gear list is focused on my favorite gear that’s useful, small and lightweight – and has been tested over hundreds of trail miles.

 

Backpacking gear list: backpack and navigation

Backpack & navigation

Backpack

I’ve hiked with an older-model Osprey Aether 70 for the past ten years, and love its roomy storage capacity, comfort and durability. This summer, I upgraded to the recently-updated Osprey Aether 60 backpack, though, and love the newer pack’s padding, suspension and easy-access storage. I also pack an Osprey UL Raincover to keep my backpack and gear dry in case of rain.

My favorite features? Read them in my full Osprey Aether 60 review.

GPS, compass & trail map

Getting turned around on a trail is easier than it seems, especially after fatigue sets in on a high-mileage day. I track my backpacking journeys with the Garmin Oregon 600 GPS: even when there’s no mobile phone coverage, the GPS gives me to access detailed topographic maps, and the Oregon 600’s batteries outlast my iPhone by many hours. Marking waypoints of trail intersections, campsites, and points of interest is easy with the Garmin 600, and its Tracback feature traces my route in reverse, making it easy to hike back to the trailhead.

As much as I love my GPS, electronics fail and batteries drain. For backup, I carry a Suunto A-10 Compass and a printed topographic trail map on the trail.

 

Backpacking gear list: tent, sleeping bag and hammock

 

Sleep & Relaxation

Marmot Pulsar 2P Tent

Pulsar is Marmot’s ultralight line of backpacking tents. I love the 2-person Marmot Pulsar for its lofty, ample headroom that’s created from its innovative pole construction. Changing clothes and moving around is easy in the Pulsar, unlike many of its ultralight competitors, and Marmot’s thoughtful design makes setup and tear down fast and easy. Read my full Marmot Pulsar 2P review for more details and features.

REI Lumen Sleeping Bag

My 3-season REI Lumen Sleeping Bag is comfortable and roomy, and its synthetic insulation keeps me warm on chilly nights. It’s rated to 30 degrees farenheit to keep me comfortable through most of Georgia’s moderate seasons. And when paired with a Sea to Summit eVent Compression Dry Sack, the REI Lumen packs small to take up minimal room in my backpack.

I also pack a lightweight sleeping pad for comfort on the ground.

ENO SingleNest Hammock

There’s simply no better way to relax at a campsite. I love, love, love my ENO SingleNest Hammock: it’s ultra-comfortable, light weight and is my favorite way to catch a nap, relax or read on the trail. And setup is simple, in seconds, with the ENO Atlas Suspension System: find two healthy trees, wrap the Atlas straps, and clip in the ENO SingleNest. Read more details in my ENO SingleNest & DoubleNest Review.

 

Backpacking gear list: health, safety and convenience

Backpacking gear

I pack these health, safety and organization essentials to keep my backpack organized and help keep me safe, fueled and hydrated.

First aid & health

The Adventure Medical Ultralight Watertight First Aid Kit is water tight, lightweight and small, and contains first aid essentials for emergencies on the trail. I add some extra allergy medication, pain relievers and gauze, and also pack small bottles sunscreen and insect repellant.

Safety

After several black bear encounters at campsites – including a trio that destroyed my gear on the Raven Cliff Falls Trail – I pack a can of bear spray for safety (and have thankfully never needed it). My Chums Smokey Paracord Bracelet doubles use in emergencies as a fire starter and a length of high-strength paracord. And I always pack several knives, a whistle, a mini roll of duct tape, water treatment tablets and a small length of rope for use in emergency situations.

Other small (but useful) gear

A headlamp keeps my hands free to read, cook, or do whatever I need to when it’s dark. My Princeton Tec Headlamp is small, lightweight, and doubles as an in-tent lantern when hung from the crest of my tent.

Carabiner clips are useful for hanging wet gear or clothing from the exterior of my pack, so I always keep a few extra clipped to my backpack.

Packing essentials

To keep my camera and water-sensitive electronics dry in case of rain, I pack Sea to Summit Lightweight Dry Bags: their light weight and small packable size take up negligible room in my backpack. And for day hikes away from base camp, the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack unfolds from a tiny, lightweight stuff sack to a 20 liter, ultralight backpack.

I use an E-Case waterproof case to store spare batteries for my GPS, headlamp, and camera.

And I love Eagle Creek Specter bags: they’re a lightweight, durable zippered bag that’s great for keeping small gear organized in my backpack.

 

Backpacking gear list: food, coffee, water, and food storage

Food & hydration

There’s nothing better than hot coffee at my campsite on a cool morning. I pack course-ground coffee and a GSI Outdoors Commuter JavaPress for a quick cup of french-pressed coffee in the morning.

Backpacking stove

I pack a Jetboil Flash to quickly boil coffee water and for fast-cooked meals at my campsite. The Jetboil Flash Cooking System boils water ultra-quickly and features a non-stick interior for easy cleanup.

Water treatment

For backcountry water treatment, I filter my water with a Sawyer Mini Filter. It’s a compact, lightweight and simple filter that’s easy to use: read my Sawyer Mini Filter Review for more details. And as a backup, I pack Potable Aqua Iodine Tablets in the event I lose my Sawyer Mini on the trail.

Food storage

Due to increased black bear activity in popular North Georgia wilderness areas, including Blood Mountain and Raven Cliff Falls, bear-resistant canisters are seasonally required in some areas. I pack the BearVault BV450 Solo Food Canister to store my food, scented gear like sunscreen, and Jake’s dog food overnight.

 

What to pack for a backpacking trip: backpacking gear for dogs

Backpacking gear for dogs

Jake is an inquisitive black lab pup who loves the trail. He’s my favorite hiking buddy on dog-friendly trails around Georgia, and I pack trail-friendly dog gear to keep him safe, fueled and hydrated on the trail.

Ruffwear Slackline Leash and Top Rope Collar

Ruffwear specializes in rugged, durable, functional outdoor dog gear that’s also beautifully designed. The Ruffwear Slackline Leash is an adjustable-length leash that prevents tangles with a swivel clip, and can be waist-worn when I need to keep my hands free. And I love the easy clip-in and clip-on design of Ruffwear’s Top Rope Collar.

Ruffwear Bivy Bowl and Singletrak Pack

To keep Jake hydrated on-trail, I pack the collapsable Ruffwear Bivy Bowl – and in cooler months, Jake wears his Ruffwear Singletrak Hydration Dog Pack. The Singletrak is a low-profile, durable dog backpack that makes on-trail hydration easy and convenient; read more in our Ruffwear Singletrak review.

TurboPUP trail bars

And to keep Jake fueled up on the trail, I pack TurboPUP bars. They’re a trail bar for dogs: grain-free, American made & sourced from human-quality ingredients, they’re also packaged for easy meals on the trail.

 

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Eric Champlin is a writer and photographer who loves to hike, run, backpack, kayak and cycle the southeast. He’s the editor and founder of Atlanta Trails and Asheville Trails, online magazines that cover the South’s best outdoor adventures. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s scenic beauty.