Are you wondering what to pack for a five night backpacking trip? Today I am sharing a complete listing of things that you should bring when heading out on a five night trek. Be sure to grab the free printable five night backpacking checklist at the bottom of this post!
The weight and quality of your equipment is everything when backpacking, especially for a longer trip. Often while backpacking you may be miles from the nearest trail head or cell service. It is extremely important to be mindful of this and be prepared to be self sufficient for days on end.Backpacking is somewhat different than traditional camping because everything that you need for your trip is carried with you, in a pack, on your back.
Planning a shorter trek? Be sure to also read how to pack for a two night backpacking trip.
How to plan for a longer backpacking trip:
When planning a backpacking trip I often start months in advance. I begin with researching my destination and getting as much information as I can about the route I plan on hiking. Many resources can be found online, in Facebook groups and in guidebooks. For example when I hiked the West Coast Trail this Guidebook: Blisters & Bliss (aff link) was super helpful! But not all trails come with a guidebook so be sure to ask fellow trekkers for advise and insight on where you plan on going.
Next I review all of my gear and make sure that it is all in good condition and in working order.
How to inspect your backpacking gear:
- Open the tent and look for tears or defective zippers and ties.
- Unroll your mat and sleeping bag and inspect for mold and/or holes.
- Look at the backpack that you plan on using and test the zippers and buckles.
- Pull out your cookware and inspect it for rust or defects. Make sure that you have enough fuel for your trip. Turn on your stove to make sure that its in working order.
- Check out the headlamp, matches & water filtration system that you plan on using and make sure that they are all in good working order.
- Tip: when in doubt put new batteries in your gear, this is especially important for longer trips!
As a smaller woman who is 5’2″ I put a lot of consideration into how much weight that I plan on carrying in my backpack. The recommendation is to carry up to 20% of your body weight. For longer trips I am especially mindful of how much weight I am carrying as it can become burdensome over time and I want to avoid injury or fatigue.
What to consider when purchasing gear:
- The weight of your equipment. When planning for my WCT trip I weighed out and measured everything, right down to my underwear. As a general rule you want to purchase gear that is as lightweight and compact as possible.
- Do your research before buying! I found that a lightweight backpacking tarp from MEC was $30 but a basic tarp from Walmart was actually lighter and only cost $4.
- Not all gear is created equal. The quality of your gear is very important. The last thing you want while backpacking in the wilderness is a leaky tent or cold sleeping bag. Invest in quality pieces where you can.
- Size of the equipment. The space that your gear takes up in the backpack is important to consider.
Considerations for meal planning:
- Hiking and backpacking burns a lot of energy so be sure to pack calorie rich foods.
- Pack light! Dehydrated meals that can be cooked by just adding hot water are the best.
- Include snacks and foods that travel and pack well like protein bars, beef jerky and hard cheese.
Check out my 20+ Backpacking Food Ideas for a complete list of foods to pack for backpacking. Or these Keto Backpacking Food Ideas if you are following a low carb lifestyle. Tip: do not overpack food and be conscious of the weight of things like nuts and trail mix. It can add up!
What to pack for five nights of backpacking:
Minimum 60 L backpack
Dry bags x4
1 litre water bottle x 2
Pristine water tabs or filtration system
First aid kit
Map / compass
Wool socks x2
Quick dry t-shirt x 2
Package food into individual large freezer bags for each day and place them all into a dry bag for easy storage. Food for each day should weigh approximately 1lb. Store food in a bear cache whenever able while camping.
extra pot or cup
light weight towel
I like to also include a knee brace and tensor bandages for longer trips. During my WCT trek one of my knees was plagued with tendonitis so now I plan for that. I also include tylenol and advil in my first aid kit just in case they are needed.
Grab the five night backpacking checklist:
Simply right click on the image above to save it to your computer or click on the google drive link below to download the original file.