The Ultimate Camping and Backpacking Gear Guide

There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.

Sir Rannulph Fiennes
Backpacking gear isn’t always cheap and sometimes it seems like A LOT of money when you’re dropping a couple hundred dollars on a backpack or tent or sleeping bag. But you have to remind yourself that if you take care of it, your gear is a lifetime investment. You don’t have to buy the lightest and most expensive gear right away and there are plenty of things you can buy less expensive alternatives for, but if you want high-quality, long-lasting stuff you have to be willing to pay for it occasionally. Below is a list of all my favorite gear, linked to where I bought it or where I’ve found it cheaper since purchasing. I might like to shop a lot, but I also like to save so I’d be willing to bet this is one of the most extensive, best bang for your buck backpacking/camping/hiking gear guides you’ll find on the interwebs.
Ready for Big Bend National Park
All the gear that went into my Osprey Aura AG 65L pack for a 3 day/2 night backpacking trip to Big Bend National Park

Backpacking Essentials

  1. Osprey Aura AG 65L Pack and rain cover
  2. Leki Corklite Trekking Poles – Pair
  3. REI Co-op Half Dome 2 Plus and Half Dome 2 Plus Footprint
  4. Adventure Medical Kits UltraLight & Watertight .7 First-Aid Kit
  5. TETON Sports TrailHead +20F Ultralight Mummy Sleeping Bag
  6. REI Co-op Flash Insulated Air Sleeping Pad and Cocoon inflatable pillow
  7. Bear Bell and BearVault BV500 Food Container

Backpacking Essentials Accessories

  1. REI Co-op Trail 40L Pack
    • This pack is the perfect personal item/carry-on size for traveling – it meets Spirit Airlines’ free personal item standards and I even used it to pack everything I needed for 20 days abroad!
  2. The REI Special Edition Flash 18L Pack is great for day hikes and it’s small enough to fit in your backpacking pack and use it when you want to take smaller hikes without lugging all your gear. I wish I remembered to bring it when we backpacked Big Bend and decided to make a day hike out to Emory Peak.
  3. Madera Outdoor Azul Hammock
  4. The REI Flexlite Chair may not be *essential* but after a full day of backpacking with ~40 pounds on your back having a chair with a backrest to sit on is like a little slice of Heaven
  5. Black Diamond Moji Lantern and Cosmo Headlamp
  6. Ultralight Portable Outdoor Backpacking Stove
    • Plus Butane/Propane mix fuel canisters like these
  7. Compact table set, pots and pans, collapsible travel cups, and sporks
  8. Aurelle TOOB Brush, Wilderness Wash, microfiber towel, and Coleman Biowipes
  9. The Deuce Backcountry Trowel and toilet tissue
  10. SPF Lip Balm and Sunblock
  11. Coghlan’s Featherweight Mirror
Backpacking is the art of knowing what not to take.
Sheridan Anderson
Madera Outdoor Azul Hammock

Beach/Car Camping Gear

If you have your car available, a backpacking pack isn’t all that necessary for camping. And while all of the sleeping gear I listed in the Backpacking Essentials would be great for car camping you can get away with blankets, comforters, and pillows from home. Of course you need a tent, and when you’re getting into backpacking it makes sense to buy an lightweight backpacking tent and use it for camping as opposed to vice versa until you’re ready to invest in multiple tents. But if you can afford it, having separate tents for camping and backpacking is super convenient. Backpacking is about weight-efficient fun while camping is about FUN; you don’t need to be as selective with what and how you pack or restricting your weight. That being said, here are my camping gear recommendations.
  1. Coleman Sundome 4-Person Tent
  2. Coleman Classic Propane Stove
  3. Coleman Coastal Xtreme Cooler
  4. 10′ x 10′ Canopy, canopy weights, and a canopy wind/sunwall
    • We haven’t used our sunwall yet but it has great reviews on Amazon and feels sturdy
  5. Water container for clean water storage (and you can use it as a canopy weight)
  6. Compact table set, pots and pans, collapsible travel cups, and sporks
  7. Electric kettle (if you’re into glamping and your campsite has electricity hookups)
  8. Air mattress and/or air pads
  9. Shovel for when you need to dig a hole to contain your campfire on windy days
  10. Bow Saw for cutting larger pieces of firewood
    • Make sure you know the laws of the land in regard to collecting firewood wherever you’re camping!

Preferred Hot/Cold/Rainy Weather Clothing and Shoes

  1. Sahara Hat, Buff Headwear, and Kafka’s Kool Tie are all great items to keep you cool
  2. Columbia Sportswear Arcadia II Rain Jacket
  3. Patagonia Snowbelle 3-in-1 Jacket
  4. Any Columbia Sportswear Omni-Heat Reflective clothing
  5. Lululemon Leggings (make sure they’re designed for high activity)
  6. I love my Merrell Moab 2 Mid Hiking Boots, Keen Footwear Whisper Hiking Sandals, and Keen Footwear Targhee II Waterproof Mid Hiking Boots
  7. I had the Salomon X Ultra Winter Climashield Waterproof Boots and they soaked through after hiking in the snow for an hour so I returned them and exchanged for another Salomon hiking boot I haven’t hiked in yet.
  8. Coolmax Ultralight Hiking Crew Socks and the EcoMade CoolMax Liner Socks
Byron Glacier (1)
Seeing as I’ve been a Floridian/Texan since 2009, my body is not used to the cold. But the Patagonia Snowbelle 3-in-1 Jacket kept me SO warm and dry during my entire Alaska adventure. Would definitely buy again.

Food and Hydration

  1. CamelBak Crux 2L Reservoir
    • It fits in both my 40/65L backpacks
  2. Katadyn BeFree Collapsible Water Filter Bottle
    • This was super helpful on the Appalachian Trail as I was able to scoop water from the natural streams we passed and conserve the water we packed until we really needed it.
  3. Potable Aqua Chlorine Dioxide Tablets – I haven’t needed to use these yet but they’re good to have on hand if you’re ever in a bind and need clean drinking water
  4. Hydro Flask and Nalgene water bottles
  5. Backpacker’s Pantry, ApineAire, and Mountain House Freeze Dried Foods
  6. Clif Shot BloksGU Energy Chews, and CLIF Bar – Energy Bars
Hydro Flask
@HydroFlask, please sponsor me

Emergency Supplies

  1. Adventure Medical Kits UltraLight & Watertight .7 First-Aid Kit
    • I included this twice because a medical kit IS that important
  2. Adventure Medical Kits Day Tripper Lite Medical Kit
  3. Poison Ivy Soap – removes the Urushiol and has definitely spared me a hospital visit or two this past year
  4. UCO Stormproof Match Kit
  5. Space Emergency Blanket
  6. Extra batteries
Sleeping bags are the soft tacos of the bear world.

Piper and the Pups

I lost my car in Hurricane Harvey, which many would say is pretty awful – it was. But there’s always a silver lining and for me that was the fact that my totaled vehicle was a lease which I wasn’t the kindest to and no longer have to deal with. AND I got to buy a car on my own for the first time ever. I searched for weeks until I found Piper, a 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SE 4WD. One of the first aircraft I ever flew was a Piper Archer so I named her in honor of my first adventurous hobby. She gets me where I need to go with all my gear, toys, and pups. She’s a 4WD, great on gas mileage, and big enough to lug two kayaks around!
Kayaking on Clear Lake
I’ve rigged Piper with Yakima gear to transport my Pelican kayaks.
  1. Yakima Landing Pad 11 (2 pack, so buy 2)
  2. Yakima Skyline
  3. Yakima CoreBar
  4. TMS J-Bar Rack Kayak Carrier – transporting one kayak was never a problem but when I used two of these racks it did something to loosen the skylines/corebar and I had to hold onto the corebar the entire drive home from Surfside Beach. I’ve had to replace the skylines and now I am looking into buying official Yakima kayak carriers so I hopefully won’t have this problem again.
We haven’t purchased everything we want for the pups yet as we’re waiting until Billie Holiday is full grown. I have a couple things for Etta James but most of the gear is TBD when we see how big BH gets. She’s grown over 40 pounds in 10 weeks and we have no idea when it’s going to stop! I like Ruffwear because of their design philosophy which focuses on using sustainably sourced materials and eco friendly designs/processes. That means their products will cost you more, but you can feel good about supporting a company that cares about our planet. I’ve also included cheaper alternatives so maybe you’ll consider using the money you save to donate to your local conservation center or the National Park Foundation!
  1. Ruffwear Float Coat
    • Amazon alternative here
  2. Ruffwear Palisades Pack
  3. Ruffwear Brush Guard and Core Cooler
  4. Dog leash stakes like this and this
  5. Highlands Sleeping Bag
    • Amazon alternative here
  6. Collapsible bowls
  7. Car Seat Protectors
    • Super useful when you have dogs who shed, drool, and/or get carsick during long car rides
*Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.*

5 thoughts on “The Ultimate Camping and Backpacking Gear Guide

  1. Kristian Golick says:

    Hello! This post could not be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this article to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!


  2. Kendrick Fredlund says:

    Aw, this was a very nice post. In idea I wish to put in writing like this moreover – taking time and precise effort to make a very good article… however what can I say… I procrastinate alot and certainly not seem to get one thing done.


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