Camping Backpack – How To Plan Your Overnight Hiking Trip

camping backpack
Pack Wisely For A Great Hike

Camping backpack trips require info like what essentials to pack, where to go and how to prepare. That may seem overwhelming. You may want to give it a try, but not knowing how to get it all together might seem like a daunting task. Are you worried you won’t pack the right things in your hiking bag and be stuck in the wild without something crucial? Why not enjoy the Great Outdoors overnight instead of just for the day?  Here are some ideas and pointers to consider that will alleviate your anxiety allowing you to simply hike on and get your zen going.

Trekking Backpack Selection Is Crucial

A camping backpack that is well equipped means choosing a hiking bag to carry all the necessities you’ll need for a few days of overnight hiking. You will need a hiking pack that stands up to the elements of rain or moisture in the air. It should be made of sturdy material that will endure the weight of your camping equipment plus essentials, and is one of quality workmanship.

If you are new to hiking and camping and have never experienced the extreme hassle of a broken backpack zipper, it’s not pleasant. A broken backpack strap will have you frustrated beyond belief. Do yourself a favor and stay away from cheap department store backpacking backpacks.  You won’t be just carrying a few books and a lunch bag; you’re not headed off to school. Also vital is a quality pair of waterproof hiking boots that you have worn a bit to break them in. Trust me, blisters are not fun.

A Camping Backpack Will Carry More Than A Day Hiking Pack

Your trekking backpack , which is just another name for a hiking or camping backpack, will need to carry certain camping gear such as a backpacking tent. It may be either a one man tent or a 2 person tent depending on whether this is a solo hike or not. Try to keep it around 3-4 lbs for ease of carry. It’s wise to have a camping mat to put between the floor of the tent and your sleeping bag for warmth and dryness, and for sitting at the campfire to keep you dry from ground moisture.

Typical Overnight Trekking Gear To Bring

You’ll need a sleeping bag that is lightweight but provides insulation from the cold ground. Some folks use a camping pillow. I often use my hiking pack as a pillow. A battery-powered lantern and a flashlight with extra batteries is a must have. You should always bring matches in a waterproof container even if you don’t plan on making a fire. If you plan ahead, you can save some dryer lint and pack that for an excellent lightweight fire starter.

Camping Backpack – Tools For The Trail

Your outdoor backpack should always contain a waterproof map, a compass (learn how to read it before the trip) and your phone with GPS. You shouldn’t count on just your cell phone alone, because some remote areas may not have cell service or your battery could die, with no way to recharge it in the wild.  Carry some basic tools such as a Swiss army style knife, a headlamp, and zip ties.

Preparing Hot Camp Food

Even if you are not a cook, you may want a lightweight (less than a pound) backpacking stove that can boil water fast for dehydrated food, coffee or soup. You will need to consider the fuel type you will be using and what equipment comes with your stove. All-in-one options prevents the need to bring separate pans and cups. I love my MSR Pocket Rocket. It’s compact, lightweight and inexpensive. Bring a Spork with you , which is a combo spoon/fork, or some plastic forks and spoons since they are light weight. If you bring plastic cutlery, you risk breakage in your hike bag.

Camping Backpack Food To Bring

Dehydrated Foods Are Quick And Easy To Fix

Backpack bags carry your essential food and water for the entire length of your excursion. You shouldn’t laden your hiking pack with heavy canned goods. Camping while hiking is different than driving your car to your camping spot where you can bring all kinds of dishes, pots and pans and silverware along. You need the minimal stuff that is lightweight.

Dehydrated Camping Food Is Good

Dehydrated food that only requires boiling water is as simple as it gets.  Lightweight non-refrigerated breads, granola bars, ramen noodles and beef jerky are popular. You need a good combination of protein and carbs for nourishment while hiking. I like the brand Good-To-Go since it tastes like real food, not cardboard. Individual packets of peanut butter, cream cheese, mayo and jelly are lightweight food options. Packets of tuna, chicken and salmon are also good choices. It makes sense to keep your food in a bear canister (even if you are not in bear country) to not draw any critters to your camping area.

camping backpack

Many Hikers Use Hydration Drink Systems

A hydration backpack with a sleeve for a hydration bladder can holds a day’s worth of water.  For carrying your water in bottles in your backpacking backpack, you can refill them IF you know there are water sources along your hike that you have verified on your map. In that case you will need water purification tablets to make sure the water you drink will not make you sick. That would surely ruin your trip.  Plan on consuming at least 2 liters of water per day you are hiking.

camping backpack
Some Typical Camping Backpack Items To Pack

Packing Your Backpack Bag – Clothing And First Aid

Your trekking backpack will also be your “luggage” for the clothes you will need. Depending upon the time of year you are hiking, it’s always a good rule of thumb to dress in layers since you may begin hiking in the early morning when it’s chilly and end up sweating in the afternoon. If you layer your clothing, you can remove pants while you wear shorts underneath and a flannel shirt while wearing a tank top beneath.

Suggested material is moisture-wicking pants like you might wear at the gym. Shirts should be of the same material. For a weekend, take 3 pairs of wool (never cotton) socks, 2 pair of underwear, a warm jacket, a hat, sunglasses and a bandana, which can be worn backwards as sun protection for your neck.  An extra pair of pants and T-shirt are always a good idea in case you get wet from a sudden rainfall.

A Camping Backpack Should Always Contain First Aid Supplies

A camping bag should always carry first aid items for cuts, scrapes or blisters while hiking. A hiking must-have is duct tape, which is excellent when applied to blisters or cuts and has countless other uses.  For a weekend you shouldn’t need a whole roll, so you can wrap several yards around a pencil. A whole roll would be much heavier. Include bandages, triple antibiotic gel like Neosporin, Ibuprofen or Tylenol, Benadryl or similar anti-histamine in case of allergic reactions to plants or environment. Also include an anti-itch medication and hand sanitizer. 

Your Camping Backpack – Don’t Forget These Items Also

Sunscreen is an absolute must, and you should reapply every 90 minutes. Antacid tablets, bug spray and any medications you take should be in a waterproof container.  This may sound like a lot, but some of these items you may not use very time, however, if you need them you will be darn glad you have them. Small sized tubes and bottles should be lightweight and not take up much room. 

…And The List Goes On

This list would actually have many more things added if you were hiking for longer than a weekend. Camping overnight is an experience well worth every second. Good planning and preparation will insure the most pleasant of excursions. Whatever you may forget to pack the first time, I can pretty much guarantee you will remember on future hikes. Experience is always the best teacher. 

All Hikers Could Benefit From Your Feedback

Feel free to comment below if you have a tip or suggestion for new hikers. We were all new at it one time, so help is always beneficial.  Happy hiking!


We love the great outdoors, backpack hiking, fishing, camping and experiencing nature's beauty.

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