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Beginner’s Guide to Backpacking Gear

My favorite things for Backpacking in Maine - Luxurious & Lightweight


My first backpacking trip was a few years ago. Ironically, it was in Washington State. I have a good friend (from Maine) who moved out to Washington State about five years ago. She got really into backpacking out there, so we decided to plan a trip to visit! I literally bought and shipped a new 6 lb 60 L Deuter pack out there to break in on the trip. Fortunately, the trails in Washington State aren’t as rugged as the trails in Maine, so I wasn’t in too much trouble with my lack of preparation and knowledge for this trip. I certainly learned my lesson when I started backpacking in Maine though! The Deuter took one trip on the AT (Mahoosuc Notch, yikes) before it got traded in for an UL Osprey!!! At this time, I’ve done a number of backpacking trips in both Washington State and Maine, and many miles on the Appalachian Trail. Here’s the gear that I’ve narrowed it down to for all of my trips! Please note the links below are affiliates – so that means I make a small commission, and I appreciate you using them to make a purchase! 

It can sometimes take me up to 8 hours to pack for a backpacking trip when I am not doing a lot of other outdoor activities. The laundry needs to be done, where did I put my headlamp… the list goes on. Fortunately I’ve finessed my packing to a science and it takes me way less time these days – plus I keep everything super organized so I can find it for a last minute backpacking trip!  I’ve broken down my lists into segments, and I am totally stoked to share my list of my favorite gear for backpacking!      

Backpack & Sleeping Gear

OSPREY Women’s Eja 58

This Osprey backpack is created for women. I went and got it fitted at a local store to my area – Alpenglow Adventure Sports! The pack weighs 2 lbs. 10 oz. – which makes a HUGE difference. Having the pack fitted alleviated some of the pressure on my neck as well. How you pack your pack is important as well! I love that this pack has  the ability to grow and also shrink while still being super functional! 

NEMO Hornet 2p Tent

I have the Nemo Hornet! I’ve also backpacked with a Big Agnes Copper Spur, and it’s pretty quick to set up. I’d probably get a Big Aggie if I could do it all again, but I don’t really like the color orange, soooooo. hahah. The Hornet weighs just two pounds, so this is a HUGE benefit – and it really stuffs away into the sack and your pack, but it’s not free standing – meaning you HAVE to stake it  – so it is not ideal for a tent platform, which is what is prevalent on the Appalachian Trail. 

Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Ultra Sleeping Pad

Hands down the best air mattress sleeping pad ever!!! Seriously, luxurious. doesn’t take long to blow up, packs down nicely, and it incredible to sleep on with the Klymit sleeping pad cover I mention below. I brag to all of my friends about this often. 

Big Agnes Pumphouse Ultra

This stuff sac is a game changer! It has a nozzle on it which attaches on to the Big Agnes sleeping pad mentioned above. A few times filling it with air and then compressing the bag will fill your air mattress right up. You can also use this as a pillow, or even an outdoor shower. Highly recommend!!!!

Klymit V Sheet

This sleeping pad cover packs up lightly and is an INCREDIBLE barrier between your sleeping pad and your body. Some warm summer nights, I sleep with just my sleeping bag as a quilt, and enjoy my time on the air mattress and sheet. I’m telling you – luxurious! You can also stuff your puffy into the pillow compartment and sleep like a dream!

Cocoon Microfiber Mummy Liner

The mummy liner is a great way to keep you cozy and warm in all seasons (it’s microfiber!) and also keeps your sleeping bag clean. It’s the perfect thing to wrap up in by the fire, or while having your coffee in the morning. This liner is dope!!

Gobi Gear Segsac Stuff Sac

is where it’s at!!! I keep all of my clothes in this sack in my backpack and it makes the perfect pillow!! 

Klymit KSB Down Sleeping Bag

I’m obsessed with this down mummy sleeping bag from Klymit. It keeps me so warm in the late fall and the down filling keeps me cool in the summer as well. I will sometimes unzip it and use it as a quilt over my mummy liner. It packs down small and weight 2.75 lbs. I also have a synthetic bag for the summer, but this one has never let me down! 


Jetboil Flash Cooking System

You’ve gotta have a Jetboil! make sure you also have fuel, and a lighter just in case! (My fuse broke one backpacking trip and I had to manually light it! ) This is great for coffee in the am, and also for re-hydrating dinner at night. 

GSI Outdoors Essential Spoon – Long

You really need a long spoon for your backpacking meals. Trust me on this. You do. 

Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter System

The Sawyer Squeeze is an incredibly convenient water filtration system. You can fill up all three bags at your water source and then save them for later. Nothing better than waking up in the tent in the am and not having to go down and get new water for coffee and breakfast! I highly recommend this product. 

GSI Outdoors Infinity Backpacking Mug

Insulated and lightweight. I use this for coffee in the morning and electrolytes/vodka in the evening! Keeps my beverages reasonable hot and cold, and super lightweight. The Infinity Mug holds 17.5 fluid ounces but weighs just 3.5 ounces. Comes in many colors!

LOKSAK OPSAK Odor-Proof Barrier Bags

Reusable storage bags. I use one for paper towels/napkins and any condiments – tiny salt & pepper packages, mayo packages – etc. I use the other for trash and then I wash it and reuse it the next time! 

Fozzils Snapfold Solo Pack (Cup, Bowl, Dish)

Fozzils foldable, lightweight plates and/or bowls. I find I use this most often for snacks, and I typically only bring the plate – but at 1.4 oz, you can’t go wrong! Full set is 4 oz. 

Other things for your checklist – 

  • Napkins, or something to wipe your hands with.
  • Condiments – salt, pepper, mayo, sugar
  • A knife
  • Drybag for your food
  • Sealable trashbag for food/scented trash

Selected 10 Essentials Gear & Ditty Bag Items

  1. Lighter or waterproof matches. I use a lighter
  2. Hot hands and gloves
  3. Paracord
  4. Carabiners
  5. Chapstick
  6. Sunscreen
  7. Bugspray
  8. Map and Compass
  9. Tarp
  10. Knife
  11. Sunglasses
  12. Zip ties
  13. Duct tape
  14. Water filter & tablets for backup
  15. Headlamp and extra batteries
  16. Ibuprofen – I take this a lot when I hike
  17. Extra Cliff blocks or electrolytes
  18. Extra phone charger
  19. Garmin InReach or satellite device
  20. Notepad & pen
  21. Poop Kit

Personal Items

Personal Items are different for every person. I have some things I bring with me that other wouldn’t, for example waterproof mascara. But, give me mascara or give me death. It changes my look without it and I’m not willing to sacrifice that for a little weight 🙂 

I have a bag that I bring into my tent with me, and that lives inside a larger gallon plastic bag with my scented personal items. You should always put your scented personal items in the bear box or container, or in the bear bag.  Bears have a keen sense of smell, 7 x better than a dog, and they don’t know that your face wipes aren’t a sweet treat 🙂 

  1. Waterproof mascara – I use Maybelline great lash waterprof
  2. tinted moisturizer with SPF
  3. Sunscreen for your body
  4. Bug spray/bug wipes and  Vicks (in a mini snack bag)
  5. My daily medicine in a mini snack bag
  6. Chapstick with SPF
  7. Wilderness wipes
  8. toothbrush & toothpaste & floss
  9. Deodorant scrapes in a mini snack bag
  10. Butt powder or hair powder
  11. Mini hair brush
  12. extra hair ties
  13. Charger for phone, Garmin, speaker
  14. Mini tiger balm


Florida born, Maine living. Outdoor life is for me. I love adventures - hiking -photography - running - camping - reading - creating - learning - traveling - deep eddy vodka - cats and living, basically. Follow me on social - @DanielleDorrie