Camping Backpack – The Ultimate How To Pack & Packing Checklist!

In this article on how to pack a camping backpack, we will cover these main areas of concern: Size of the camping backpack, Maximum Weight of the camping backpack, Weight Distribution, Attaching Gear to Outside of camping backpack, Organization of Materials to be Packed, and Options for Hydration. These are the primary things you need to think about as you prepare to camping backpack.


Size Of Camping Backpack

As a general rule of thumb, you can divide camping backpack sizes into what you will need based on the length of the trip and gender. Clearly, some adjustments can be made to both factors here. Commonsense and experience will dictate these adjustments.

  • Length of Trip

We are assuming that most trips will be a minimum of 2 days. With this in mind, look for a camping backpack in the 2400-4800 cubic inch capacity range for trips lasting 2-4 days. For 5 days and longer, look for a larger capacity camping backpack based on the guidelines in the next section

  • Gender

Camping backpacks must fit. They also cannot be too heavy. Both of these considerations are somewhat impacted by gender. Having said that, this author knows plenty of women capable of out-carrying most men. The point is here to get what will work for you.

Having said this, for the 5 days and longer range, women can generally look at camping backpacks with a capacity of 4300 cubic inches and greater. Men can look at camping backpacks with a capacity of 4800 cubic inches and greater.


Maximum Weight

The general rule of thumb on maximum weight is 25-30% of your ideal body weight. So, a 150 lb person should be looking at carrying up to 45 lbs including the weight of their camping backpack. A 200 lb person can go up to 60 lbs. Many people exceed these guidelines for weight, but with some planning they really would not need to do so.


Weight Distribution

The plan here is to camping backpack you gear in three layers. The bottom layer will be lighter items you will not need access to through the day of backpacking. This would include sleeping bag, certain clothing items, etc. The middle layer, near the middle of the back, would include your heavier items such as camp stoves, fuel, and food. At the top, you should put items that are lighter, and you might need through the day.

Additionally, make sure you camping backpack weight evenly from side to side. Occasionally, some adjustments will need to be made. As you become familiar with your gear, the need to make these adjustments will be lessened.


Attaching Gear To Outside Of Camping Backpack

First, let me urge the reader to not get carried away with this. You will see some backpackers that look like they could not possibly own a single item that would go inside their camping backpack because it must be somewhere on the outside. This looks ridiculous, but more importantly, can create stability issues as you hike with your camping backpack.

Sharp items that might tear the interior of your camping backpack should go on the outside. This might include items such as trekking poles. Also, some items like sleeping pads are natural fits to go on the outside. As you attach items, keep in mind that you will likely need to access items on the interior of the camping backpack through the day.


Organization Of Materials To Be Packed

This is likely the most important part of packing your camping backpack.

  • Lay out all materials you think you will bring
  • Start with sleeping bag which will go in the bottom. Place other clothing you will not need in same area.
  • Place “miscellaneous” items with other items of a similar nature in small stuff sacks (color-coded helps) so that you can locate them more easily. Fill camping backpack with such items that fit this category until you reach level where heavy items go.
  • Pack camp stove, fuel, and food. Some believe fuel and food should not be in same area. As long as fuel is secure I find this not to be a problem.
  • Place items above that may need to be accessed through the day.
  • If using a tent, distribute parts to backpackers who will reside in it.


Options For Hydration

Essentially, there are two possibilities here. Most newer camping backpacks will be set up for hydration reservoirs. This is a nice option. If not, utilize the external pockets on older camping backpacks for water canisters. That’s what folks have been doing for years, and it will work just fine.

As you continue in your endeavors, you will discover what items you can live without. When you are carrying your gear, the motivation to simplify becomes greater. These tips should help you getting started.


Now You Know How To Pack Your Camping Backpack….Here Is What To Bring Camping


A Packing List for the Great Outdoors

If you’re getting ready to enjoy the great outdoors by camping out, then you’ll want to make sure that you are properly packed for your trip. I don’t know about you, but too many times we arrived at the campsite to discover we forgot something vital like a lantern or stove. Or the espresso maker. (Just kidding. Mostly.)

And if you’re camping, you are most likely somewhere remote so it’s not like you can just run to the corner store to get what you need. This is one trip you’ve really got to prepare for.

So we’d like to share some ideas on items you may want to pack on your next camping trip so you don’t forget any essential items.


What to Bring With Your Camping Backpack – Essential Equipment

    • Tent – You will want to bring a nice tent appropriate for the number of people sleeping under the same “roof,” as it were. Brands that get consistently good customer reviews include Coleman and Wenzel.


    • Stove – You can always cook or roast over the fire, but for simple pleasures like coffee and tea, you may want a stove to help you get fueled for those early morning hikes. For solo camping, you can get a single-burner stove, and a double-burner for larger groups.


    • Bed Rolls – These can make all the difference when camping as to whether or not you sleep. There are options ranging from an inexpensive foam roll mat, to inflatable mats, to more deluxe options — it really just depends on your preference.


    • Sleeping Bags – Along with bed rolls, these are necessary to a sound sleep at night – make sure you get temperature-appropriate ones. If you’re going somewhere warm, you’ll only need a lightweight sleeping bag. But if you’re going anywhere with serious cold weather, please invest in a high end sturdy mummy bag to stay warm.


    • A Good Travel First Aid Kit is definitely a must-have. You may want to pack supplies to address indigestion, fever, headache, cuts and scrapes.


    • Insect Repellent – Mosquitoes and gnats can really take a bite out of your fun, so take citronella candles, spray/lotion, and even an itch stick if you can.


    • Lanterns and Flashlights – Not being able to see your way to the bathroom at night might put you in harm’s way, and a flashlight is always handy in an emergency. They may look goofy, but a super handy option is a headlamp. (Let’s be honest – camping is no time to be proud.)


    • Kindling/Starter Fluid – This makes anyone’s job at starting a fire that much easier.


    • Matches/Lighter – You could always fall back on the old Boy Scout rub-two-sticks-together trick, but it’s better if you don’t have to. Bring at least two options and keep them in a sealed waterproof container.


    • Camping Chairs – Easily the most comfortable way to sit around a campfire. If you don’t want anything fancy sometimes you can find good options at a thrift store.


    • Plastic Bags (quart and gallon zips, plus trash size) – Plastic bags are the perfect storage container for camping because they are inexpensive and compact. Here’s a list of things that can’t get into properly sealed plastic bags; water, ants, dirt, sand, spills. And here’s a list of things that can’t get out: leftover food, dirty laundry, trash, leaky containers. Additionally, in a downpour, trash bags can be used as emergency shelter for both you and your things.


  • Paper Towels, Napkins, Paper Towels, Dish Towels, Wash Cloths – A must-have to clean up any spills, messes and keep everything tidy.


What to Bring Camping: How to pack the *Best Camping Kitchen Ever*

Make a list of every meal you intend to prepare on your trip, then use your imagination to run through preparing each one. Think not only of ingredients but any tools. Next imagine setting the table for each meal. This will help you remember to bring only what you need, and nothing you don’t. Here’s what your kit should contain:

    • The Chuck Wagon (a place to keep ALL of your cooking & eating essentials) – One of your biggest luxuries on a camping trip is good food. It’s a great way to begin or end a fantastic day in the outdoors whether you stick with the classics like hotdogs and s’mores or go all out. A Master Cooking Kit should top the packing list. A laundry basket makes a great place to store cooking equipment because it’s light, has handles, and the contents can be seen from all sides. You might even need two!


    • Cooking Hardware – Camping stove, pots, pans, cooking tools, (e.g. spatula, whisk, tongs, a can opener, wooden spoon, chef’s knife, mixing bowl, eating utensils).


    • Seasonings – Salt & pepper, sauces you use (e.g. ketchup, mustard, chili sauce, soy sauce, etc.), and your favorite herbs.


    • Commonly Forgotten Food – Nut butters, preserves and spreads, instant mixes, (e.g. pancakes), butter or margarine, cooking oil or spray, instant coffee or beans (pre-ground!), creamer, sweeteners.


  • Food Necessities – Plates, bowls, glasses, mugs, flatware.

OK – So we’ve got the essentials knocked out, now let’s talk about some other easy-to-forget items that can really enhance your camping experience. You may already have some of the things on this list at home, and if you can spare room for them they could really make your trip that much more comfortable.


What to Bring Camping – The Little Luxuries

    • Rain Gear – In case a storm hits or you are hiking through wet brush, things like ponchos, rain boots, and heavy-duty umbrellas are really a life saver.


    • Appropriate Footwear – Tennis shoes don’t always do the trick, so having wateproof hiking boots and reef shoes for going in water will make the experience that much better.


    • Binoculars – In the event you intend to go for some hikes, these are great to get a closer look at far off places and zoom in on any local critters.


    • Camp Lighting – You can make finding your camp SO much easier by putting in a few small solar lamps near your tent and even by the water tap. Just make sure you can put them away in a thick bag so the light doesn’t disturb anyone when you are ready to retire. You can also buy kids’ glow bracelets for extra fun in the dark.


    • Games – Card and board games are fun for the whole family and can really help the kids keep busy.


    • Tarps/Ground Cover – These are especially important to keep the inside of the tent clean, and can be used for shade cover in the hot summer.


    • Extra Tent Stakes – It seems like a set of tent gear always loses stakes, so it’s a good idea to bring any extras you may have.


    • Axe with a Hammer End – This will make a fire much easier to start, and help with securing the tent.


    • Pillows – While in a pinch you can roll up a blanket, your favorite pillows can make your camp feel a little more like home.


    • Rope/Line – This can be used to hang food out of reach of any campsite critters, as well as shade tarps, plus they come in handy for any McGyvering you might need to do.


  • Broom and Dust Pan – Makes for easy cleaning of tarps and tents.

So that about covers it… a complete packing list for what to bring camping and a and keep everyone a happy camper on your upcoming nature escape.

Browse our Camping List and Tips category for more camping related ideas and information of your interest to guarantee yourself a smooth camping experience!