Overnight Backpacking Checklist

overnight backpacking trip checklist

I recently wrote a blog post on the route we took on our Sunshine Coast Trail Hiking Trip, here I’m going to outline my overnight backpacking checklist including what gear, clothes and food I brought.

Between mine and Joel’s backpacks, we carried everything we would need for ~ 3 nights and 3 days of backcountry camping.

Although there were huts on this trip, you need to carry a tent with you just in case. We used a tent for one night on the trail, and for two nights of car camping at the start and end of the trip. We have a pretty basic $40 tent from Canadian Tire, Joel carried this.

Gear Checklist:


hiking pierce lake trail

I used my 45L Mec Flair Backpack, this backpack is usually perfect for overnighters, but for this trip it may have been good to have one a little bigger. I think I would like this one better, I like that it opens from the front and has the top piece that mine doesn’t. Also, make sure to bring a backpack rain cover just in case.

Sleeping Bag/ Sleeping Pad

I have this inexpensive sleeping bag from Amazon, it has done the trick so far, but I’d recommend just investing in a good one like this from MEC, depending what temps you need it for. Make sure it has a stuff sack to shrink it down. If you have a sleeping bag without a stuff sack, you can buy them at MEC on their own.

Pro tip: buy a stuff sack for your clothes!

This is the sleeping pad I have. Does the trick for me!

Hiking boots

I have these Vasque hiking boots, I bought them last year and chose them because the reviews were that they didn’t need much breaking in. I’ve used them a couple of times for a few big hikes and they never failed me until this trip 😢 I had blisters by the fourth day, but that just might be what happens after 45 km of hiking lol.

Hiking Socks

Darn Tough Hiking Socks

Clothing Checklist:

I think a good rule of thumb when backpacking is always bring less than you think. You end up wearing a lot of things a few times but it’s better than carrying more. We were lucky on this trip that because the weather was so good we were able to wash some clothes in the lake.

This is what I brought for 4.5 days and 4 nights:

  • I brought 1 sweater, my Patagonia Fleece and it was all I needed, wore it every evening
  • 1 pair of Lulu leggings, 1 pair of Lulu Align joggers, I think these are perfect because it’s nice to put a comfy pair of pants on at night, but these are so light compared to a regular sweatpants
  • 1 Lulu shorts, 1 pair bike shorts (I brought these Aerie ones)
  • 2 sports bras
  • 1 shirt to sleep in
  • 1 bathing suit
  • 2 Lulu tank tops
  • 2 pair hiking socks, 1 pair comfy socks
  • 1 pair mittens
  • 1 toque & 1 ball cap
  • I brought these Adidas Slides, but I just bought these light Birkenstocks which will be what I bring from now on
  • 1 rain jacket (I have this North Face one that goes over my Patagonia fleece really well)

Toiletry Checklist:

I use Drunk Elephant, so I brought a couple of their Mini sizes, these worked great.

  • Mini toothpaste or toothpaste tabs
  • Toothbrush
  • Mini hair brush
  • Mini deodorant

What I wish I brought: natural bar soap for lake showers, these would be perfect!

Misc. Checklist:

  • Ear plugs and a sleep mask, these are game changers for a good night sleep while camping. Especially when you’re sharing a hut with a group of people.
  • Portable charger (I kept my phone on airplane mode and barely had to charge it)
  • Headlamp
  • Baby wipes/ face wipes
  • Water bottle
  • Lighter
  • Once bowl, 1 spork, 1 knife, camp cup
  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen
  • A way to filter/ clean water – someone in our group had this filter system and it was perfect
  • Bear spray
  • Small compact-able quick dry towel
  • Matches/ lighter/ fire starter


Personally, I think you need a Jetboil, we usually have a couple to share among the group and they are the best. I honestly don’t even know what the other option would be.

Pro tip: to avoid a mess, don’t actually cook in them, just use them to heat up water, or buy pouches of food that you can submerge in boiling water to cook.

overnight backpacking trip checklist
overnight backpacking trip checklist: jetboil & camp cups


overnight backpacking trip checklist
overnight backpacking trip checklist: breakfast!

We had oatmeal every morning. I usually put together a huge amount of oatmeal, pumpkin seeds, chia, raisins, powdered peanut butter etc. mixed in a Ziplock bag so it’s ready to go.

I also brought brought bagels for the first time, bagels are great because if they get smushed they are still good and don’t break apart. If I did anything different, I would have brought everything bagels instead of cinnn raisin so that they could be used for lunch foods as well. 🙂 & cream cheese maybe!

Jif to Go peanut butters were so yummy and perfect for the bagels. I also brought Justin’s mini Almond Butter’s for oatmeal.


  • Wheat Thin crackers
  • Babybel cheese, these kept really well and we ate them the whole trip! (Joel also had a dehydrated chilli meal one night, and added babybel to it which was delicious)
  • Different flavours of the packs of Tuna, they were so perfect because they were flavoured and because they came in a pouch rather than a can


Dehydrated meals: I personally like Backpacker’s Pantry the best, this pad thai is everyone’s favourite.

Recently, we also made burritos on an overnight trip and it worked really well. I brought this rice and bean dehydrated meal, tortillas, two avocados, and this guacamole mix. It was yummy! If you get creative there are a lot of ways to make the dehydrated meals better, or not have to use them at all!

If you like Indian Food, you can find these prepackaged Indian meals where all you have to do it submerge the pack in boiling water for 5 minutes, we did this on our last trip and it was SO GOOD! I’m pretty sure the brand we used was Kitchens of India, purchased at Urban Fare.

overnight backpacking trip checklist
overnight backpacking trip checklist: indian night!

There are also lots of rice options that you can cook by submerging this way, it’s a good option for dehydrated rice meals because they are quite expensive, you could purchase an additional rice package to add to it, and then split the meal between two people!



ORGANIZE! I had everything organized into different Ziplocks and it was so helpful, it’s also great that you can suck the air out of these and it makes them even more compact (although not great for the environment, and packing bags or anything would also help).

I had a bag for toileteries and tech stuff (chargers etc.), as well as a different bag for breakfast food, lunch food, dinner food, and snacks. For my clothing, I even used large Ziplocks. This was great because it really shrunk my clothes down, and I didn’t have to worry about something spilling on them or getting them wet while they were in my bag. Any bags you have can also be reused for garbage as well since you’ll likely have to pack it out the whole way.

I’ll keep adding to this post as I think of things to add to the checklist, but please also make sure to reach out with any questions you have! Also…. I’m so not a pro on this at this point and still a newb – this is just what I’ve learnt so far.



Hi!! I'm McCall, a lifestyle blogger from Kelowna, Canada. Here you will find tips drawn from my personal experiences on a little bit of everything - style, skincare, adventures and healthy living!