3 Day Backpacking Checklist: Most Important Things

Hey! In this article I will be providing you with a 3-Day Backpacking Checklists.

However, because of the huge differences in climate depending on where you are and what time of year there is no single list that covers all trips. This will be a general check list of things that you will need for every three day trip.


  • Backpack– You will need 40 Liters or larger!
  • Clothes– Depends on where you are!
  • Footwear– You want something comfortable that you won’t get blisters in. Trust me blisters are horrible when you are walking miles! I also always bring waterproof shoes. You don’t want wet feet either! I will be going into detail about shoes in an article later!
  • Tent/ Hammock– Again very specific for climate but you need this in every climate.
  • Sleeping bag/ blanket– again depends on climate. Get a sleeping bag with the appropriate temperature range, or blankets that are warm enough!
  • Food– For a 3-day trip I always bring enough food for 4.5 days.
    • Emergency food- I always bring emergency ration bars with me. They are high calorie bars that you would be glad you had if anything goes wrong! Some have as many as 3600 calories! So in a worst case scenario you can make it for a few extra days!
    • If you want to learn more about what you can eat check out this article I wrote: Best Food for Camping!
  • Water!! – When I go on three day trips I always bring enough water for the first day. I purify the rest of the water I will need. I would recommend going on a trail with water sources along the way because carrying enough water for three days will be rough! If you would like to learn about water purification systems check out my article all about it: Water Purification For Camping!
    • Water Bottles
    • Camelbak- Very nice to have!
    • Re-Hydration Tablets- recommended. These tablets are very helpful if it is hot! They have a ton of electrolytes so it gets your body Hydrated.
  • Emergency Medical supplies– Very important to bring an emergency aid kit. You can find these anywhere with camping materials. You should always have these items when you are backpacking:
    • Bandaids and gauze- these will be your blessing if you get blisters!
    • painkillers- All first aid kits will include some basic painkillers. I also suggest that if you have prescriptions for stronger painkillers you bring them as well. If you break an ankle 6 miles from your car, having some strong medication would save you a lot of pain!
    • Insect sting ointment or treatment- If you get stung by a bee or wasp you’ll be glad you brought this!
    • EpiPen- If you have allergies to anything in nature MAKE SURE sure you bring your EpiPen
    • Inhaler- If you have asthma do not forget you inhaler
    • Moleskin is very nice to have for blisters but you will survive if you don’t have it
  • Something to start a fire– Fires are always nice and many times necessary. I always bring multiple lighters and a box or matches so nothing can go wrong!
    • Firestarter- Not necessary but very helpful. Especially if you are not good at starting fires of the wood is wet! InstaFire is great for starting fires even if the wood is wet because it burns at nearly 1000 degrees!
  • Rain Preparation– I bring tarps to cover my hammock and bags at night. If you have a tent you need to bring a rain fly, and something water proof to cover your bag. Rain is not difficult to prepare for just make sure that you do!
  • Gear– There are several pieces of gear I bring along with my on my camping trips. This is not a completely comprehensive list because different climate require different gear.
    • Pocket Knife- I would recommend a swiss army knife or any other knife with multiple tools
    • Hatchet/ ax- I bring a hatchet or an ax on every trip. It can be useful for splitting wood or cutting down wood. I have also used the blunt end of the ax head as a hammer before for several different scenarios. It also makes me feel safer in the event of an animal attack, plus hatchets are badass to have hanging off of your waist! Not required for most trips however I just always bring it with me.
    • Rope- Never know when you could use some rope! I bring around 100 feet of 200Lb rope with me. Rope can be useful for many things and you just never know when you could need some. I bring 200Lb rope in preparation for a worst case scenario where I would have to support someone with the rope. Just something to keep in mind!
    • Carabiners- I bring carabiners because they are small and easy to throw in a pack. They come in handy all the time and you never know when you will need to secure something to your pack or hang something.
    • Cooking stove- I bring small propane canisters with an attachment to screw on top. I’m going to write an article covering stoves in more detail!
      • Things to cook in- small pots or pans. Just don’t get anything to heavy!
    • GPS- It is always smart to bring some form of GPS. There are Apps you can download on your phone with GPS tracking as well as physical GPS’s.
    • Bear Spray! – If you are going to an area with bears then you will need bear spray! 
    • Flashlight- So useful for doing things at night! Always have a flashlight with enough charge on you. 
    • Extra battery pack/ solar charger- I always bring one of these with me so I can recharge my phone. 
    • Small shovel- For doing Number 2! 

That is a general checklist of items you will need in any conditions! Depending on where you are going you will need different things. Make sure you bring everything you need for your trip! I will be writing articles for specific conditions in the near future!

Let me know where your next trip is! Also if you have any questions or comments about my list let me know below!

34 thoughts on “3 Day Backpacking Checklist: Most Important Things”

  1. Great post, It’s always wise to have the right gear for a camp out. Bringing the right items makes roughing it outside not so bad. You can start a fire, set up your tent or cook some food if you’ve brought the right gear in your backpack. This list is perfect for a backpacking trip.

  2. Thank you for this general list of survival things to bring in my backpack. The last time I went camping out in the woods was when I was in the military carrying a rucksack backpack during winter. Since it’s fall and heading into winter season, I sure would like to go camping next spring and will keep in mind these backpack supplies to bring with me.

  3. It sounds like you have really thought of everything! I am definitely not a huge outdoors person but my significant other is, and he would love for us to go on a 3-day backpacking trip together.

    I will definitely be coming back to this when that time comes.

  4. Some great information here and I like the fact you have other articles that expand on points that may need more clarification, such as purifying your own water. You are right it would be pretty tough going having to lug around 3 days worth of water!

    I would say to take an EpiPen even if you don’t think you are allergic to anything, you may come across something that you have managed to avoid all this time and could find yourself needing the pen.

    Good point about the rope as well you certainly go prepared.

  5. Your mention of proper footwear is just what everyone needs to keep in mind. Bad footwear has caused me my trip. I couldn’t wait to get back home and stay barefoot. My group and I tend to forget medical supplies. We only realize when one gets a bruise or a headache. That is a great list on what to include in the emergency kit. Thank you for this comprehensive list. Looks like you have covered everything.

  6. Great advice! I like how you’ve listed everything. Medical supplies are something that I wouldn’t think of if I haven’t read your list. I’m not so experienced with hiking trips, so there’s a lot to learn from you. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Thank you so much for this backpacking checklist. I do have a question for you though in regards to emergency food. What is the difference between a ration bar and a protein bar. I always bring protein bars in case of an emergency while hiking. I never heard of ration bars. Is there a specific reason why you suggest ration bars? 

    • Oh sorry I will go back in and specify! Emergency ration bars are very high calorie bars that are light. They have up to 3600 calories so you have extra food in a worst case scenario! I always bring them because they are light and you would be glad you had it if you needed it!

  8. I enjoyed your informative, well organized article despite the fact that I rarely hike overnight any more.  Years ago I spent up to a week fishing and hiking often living off the land as much as possible.  Now that I am older, I go out for a day and sometimes for one night.  I take most of what you recommend – even a small tarp just in case.  Now, I usually take energy bars and a bit of dried food.  The one thing I was wondering about when I read your article was bear deterrent.  Do you ever carry a small horn or some kind of spray?  Everywhere I hike, there are black bears.  They are generally skiddish, but one never knows.  Thanks so much for this great list of equipment.

    • Thank you for pointing that out! I will go back in and add that! I completely forgot to add that to the list because most places I go I don’t have to worry about bears. 

  9. Thanks for a thorough list of backpacking supplies. I was tempted to go camping this year but avoided it. I may have to take the offer next year. This site will help to well prepared.
    I’ve never heard of some of the items you mentioned here especially the Epipen which is so essential.
    I will definitely be revisiting this site before I take up a backpacking journey.
    Thanks for the thorough write up.

  10. Hello Wilson, I must say that this article is very helpful and informative. I am really glad I found this piece of text as I enjoy hiking with my friends, even for 6-8 days sometimes. I am a man who doesn’t eat much so it happens that I get hungry as I don’t pack enough food which results in stomach problems, you said you prepare food for more days which now I know why lol. Thank you for sharing such useful tips when it comes to hiking, I learned many things.

  11. Whether it is inside the rough and patchy weather or in a good terrain, the best thing is to always have the right gears for the camping and that is exactly what you have expatiated in this post to enable us have that special camping experience. Thank you for sharing here and I will ensure that I bookmark this camping and also for the right backpacking.

  12. Not very many people are willing to share all of these out to the world and I can only thank you for sharing this. I am preparing for the first after school camping and I am willing to learn more on the vital things that are needed to achieve the best experience with being on a camp. Great one here and I am sure this would guide me in selecting what to ensure I pack. 

  13. This is a great post! You have basically everything necessary on your list. I would probably forget half of that stuff. It’s good to have this kind of general checklist before going backpacking, and then check it at least a few days before the trip. If you are missing something important, you can still buy it.

  14. The article was very cool and interesting, I learned more about essential medical supplies and always took them with me to camp.
    I didn’t know about the strong painkillers and its necessity

  15. This article will definitely get you prepared for a camping trip. I always bring a bandage if I intend on going on a hike or going camping, in case you twist your ankle or anything like that and you need the support. I also always bring rehydration tablets in case you would get ill or anything like that, or if it is really warm and your body might need the extra electrolytes.

    Good article. Thank you for the info on what to pack for a camping trip.

  16. Hey thanks for this awesome list!  If I may, to all your readers, and maybe even you if you didn’t know, if you want to conserve space, roll the clothes up instead of folding them! That way you will be able to carry all the things you need and will want to bring with you.  Thanks for the comprehensive list! What are some of your suggestions on what type of backpack to have for these trips?

  17. Thanks for this list i have really enjoyed reading it from its beginning to its end i have liked your explaination about every item you have mentioned in your check  list because i have got to know that some items are also useful for  example a gear but with this am ready for a three day trip thanks very much for sharing with us

  18. You are very right with wet footwear! It’s horrible, the trip really changes completely.

    Waterproof shoes are an excellent option. And I agree that you have to wear a pair of spare shoes.

    Do you take any action regarding waterproofing matches? I mean if you cover it with wax or you recommend something better.

    I really like the idea of carrying a GPS since we never know if we can get lost. What I like most about having a GPS is knowing how much I need to get to the destination of the day. It is motivating!

    What a good idea to bring only Water for the first day and then purify the rest! The truth is that water is very heavy to carry.

    I really liked this article, I hope to read the next ones!


    • I usually just bring lighters and keep them dry in my pack! With firestarter you can easily start a fire with wet wood because it burns over 1000 degrees!

  19. Thank you for writing this article. The thought of preparing for a three day hike can be a bit overwhelming. Water purification and high calorie meal bars top the list for survival items. You clearly have a lot of knowledge and experience and these articles help those of us who are not yet as experienced as yourself make good choices. Thanks again. Michael

  20. Hey, Wilson.  This is a great list of essentials for multi-day hikes.  

    When I was younger I used to do weekenders all the time and pretty much carried all of these on a regular basis whether I thought I would need them of not.

    As you said, you just never know when you will need something.  I even carry a few extras on day hikes for the same reasons.

    I would add a couple of other items to that list though such as…  a flashlight and extra batteries, a handheld compass (learn how to use it), a good topographical map of the area (Gaia GPS has an excellent app for that purpose),  an extra battery pack for charging a phone or GPS.  And last but not least… a small collapsible shovel for those times when you have to, you know :).  We all find ourselves in that situation from time to time.

    I carry these even on day hikes and that Gaia GPS app is awesome.  It will actually track your real-time position as your walking the trail.   You should check it out if you haven’t already.


  21. This is very helpful and I appreciate that each element of the backpack has a thorough description. It’s easy to overlook things sometimes but having a solid checklist like this can help to ensure that all of the most important things will make it into the pack and on the trip! Thanks for sharing!!

  22. Hi, this is a great and very important post. Wen I lived in The UK, I spent time as a volunteer with our local mountain rescue team. The number of rescues I was involved in where people didn’t have the equipment they needed was shocking. Even lack of maps or compass was common. In back country where the weather could change from clear to very foggy in a matter of minutes, this is so important.

  23. How useful is this, an entire checklist for backpackers, and it is terrible to pack for these excursions as you are always scared of leaving something behind. I always tend to leave something important behind, especially when it comes to medical stuff, and insect sting ointment is something I won’t forget again.

    Rope is also a good one to have, and a lightweight one is best. You just never know when you may need this. Water is so heavy, and one is always scared of not having enough. Even if purifying. What do you recommend to do this with?

    • It is always scary to be running out of water! I always do research on the trail I am going on before I leave! Many trails will cross several streams and creeks so water will not be an issue. It mostly depends on the trail and how much water is on the trail! 

  24. Wow that is a very comprehensive list of items. Would that all fit in the pack? I see you recommend the Camel pack type Backpacks. Over here in the UK We only seem to have the smaller 30 litre versions and I would probably need to go online to get the bigger version. I am a mountain biker and I find that the camel packs tend to lose capacity due to water storage. Do you agree? Obviously when on a biking backpack trip I have the added advantage of using the bike to carry extra weight and water. The different frame and pinion bags come in very handy. Thanks for the information. Mark

  25. When going out for camping or hiking, I am always very conscious of what I put in the backpack because it can make or mar my journey. For me, one of the most important things is my emergency instruments and I also make sure to check if they are working just in case. Whatever one will use to make a fire is just as important too. Very valuable post here. Good work.

  26. Hi Wilson,
    Great list! All people need to do is tweak it for the weather conditions. We don’t hike too much but do a lot of camping.
    Extra socks and shoes are usually needed, especially if they get wet, and moleskin is a lifesaver.
    We live in northern Canada, so we’re always at the mercy of our drastic weather changes. I always pack winter boots, toque and mitts, especially in the spring and fall.
    This is the perfect starting list for any conditions,


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