Gear & Food Planning for a Backpacking Trip

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Are you a gear junkie yet? If you aren’t, you will be.

Just be careful, its an expensive addiction. That said, getting your gear ready for a backpacking trip is sure to be one of your favorite parts about getting ready. If you feel the urge to post a picture on Instagram of your gear before it goes into your pack, you wouldn’t be the first to do so. 😉

I don’t know what its about seeing all that gear, but we as backpackers sure do love it.


[series title=”This post is part of the How to Plan a Backpacking Trip Series” title_wrap=”h5″ list=”ol” future=”off”]

Free Resource:
Download my personal backpacking gear list for free.


When it comes to backpacking gear, there are really three type of backpackers:

Traditional – This is your average recreational backpacker. They tend to have an average pack weight of about 30-40 pounds for a multi-day backpacking trip.

Lightweight – These are backpackers who want to have a light pack, but don’t go overboard on counting ounces. They will usually have a 15 pound pack for a multi-day trip.

Ultralight – These are the super serious backpackers who are all about weight and speed. There packs will often be 6-10 pounds.

Where you fall in that mix is really up to you. There is no wrong way category to fall into. They all have their pros and cons. If you are just starting out, you will likely fall into the traditional category and stay there. If you end up really getting into backpacking, you may one day move into the lightweight camp.

Really, the only thing you can do wrong when it comes to gear is pack too much of it. For the average backpacker, its unlikely that you will ever need a pack thats heavier than 40 pounds. If your pack weighs more than that, you need to seriously question every piece of gear in your pack.

Meal Planning

Planning your first backcountry menu can be a little overwhelming. You don’t have the luxury of bringing tons of ingredients to cook fresh food for every meal, but you also don’t want to survive on cliff bars the entire time either.

Then there is the problem of figuring out how much food to bring. You know you need to bring more food because you will be exerting yourself, but how much?

Here is the good news, after a few hikes and some trial and error with your food choices, you will have a pretty good menu put together. This backcountry menu will become your go-to starting point when planning meals for future trips.

So it does get easier. 🙂

When trying to figure out how much food to bring, a reasonable goal is 1.5 to 2.5 lbs. of food (or 2,500 to 4,500 calories) per person per day. This of course depends on your size, where you will be hiking, and your weight.

Gear List

It is important to note that gear lists are merely a suggestion to get you started packing and organizing. By no means should you feel like you have to take everything you find on a gear list.

In time you will start to develop your own gear list. Until then, take gear lists with a grain of salt.

Free Resource:
Download my personal backpacking gear list for free.

Shake Down Hikes

When you first start backpacking, you will start to notice that there are things you pack that you thought you needed or wanted, but never use. Im not talking about emergency type gear, but just those random things you threw in your pack that seemed like a good idea at the time.

This overpacking will continue for your first few backpacking trips until you start to learn whats really important and whats not.

A good solution to this problem is to go a what is called a shake down hike.

A shake down hike is where you carry all the gear you want for an upcoming trip on a shorter one or two night backpacking trip. This way you can take note of what you don’t actually use and remove it before you head into the backcountry for a week.

You can inventory what you do and don’t use on your shake down hike simply by memory. However, if you are super anal or just plain forgetful, I have a solution for you. Tag all your gear with a zip-tie. If you use a piece of gear, cut off the zip-tie.

Once you get home and unpack, any gear that still has a zip-tie and isn’t essential emergency gear is something you should consider removing from your backpack.

This is one of those things that really separate the newbies from the seasoned veterans. If you are throwing all your gear into you backpack and not taking it out on a backpacking trip, your doing it all wrong

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