Ten Essentials for Ultralight Backpack

Ultralight Backpacking Checklist

Note: This list is intentionally extensive. Not every ultralight hiker will carry every item on every trip.

The Ten Essentials

(for safety, survival and basic comfort)

1. Navigation

  • Map (with protective case)
  • Compass
  • GPS (optional)

2. Sun protection

  • Sunscreen and lip balm
  • Sunglasses

3. Insulation

  • Jacket, vest, pants, gloves, hat (see Clothing)

4. Illumination

  • Headlamp or flashlight
  • Extra batteries

5. First-aid supplies

  • First-aid kit

6. Fire

  • Matches or lighter
  • Waterproof container
  • Fire starter (for emergency survival fire)

7. Repair kit and tools

  • Knife or multi-tool
  • Duct tape strips; repair items as needed

8. Nutrition

  • Extra day's supply of food

9. Hydration

  • Water bottles or hydration system
  • Water filter or other treatment system

10. Emergency shelter

  • Tent, tarp, bivy or reflective blanket



Beyond the Ten Essentials

  • Backpack
  • Tent, tarp or bivy sack (with stakes, guylines)
  • Footprint
  • Sleeping bag
  • Stuff sack or compression sack
  • Sleeping pad
  • Whistle
  • Signaling mirror
  • Ice ax
  • Trekking poles
  • Meals
  • Energy food (bars, gels, chews, trail mix)
  • Energy beverages or drink mixes
  • Stove
  • Fuel
  • Cook pot
  • Utensil(s)
  • Measuring cup/mug
  • Food-storage sacks or canister
  • Length of nylon cord (5 feet+)

Clothing options

(base choices on trip length and possible weather extremes)
  • Wicking T-shirt
  • Wicking underwear
  • Quick-drying shorts or convertible pants
  • Long-sleeve shirt (for sun, bugs)
  • Bandana or buff
  • Insulating fleece jacket (or vest) and pants
  • Rain jacket (or soft shell and waterproof hat)
  • Rain pants (or soft-shell pants)
  • Insulating hat or cap
  • Gloves or mittens

Footwear; assorted personal options

  • Light-hiking or trail-running shoes
  • Socks (synthetic or wool)
  • Gaiters
  • Sandals (for fording, in camp)
  • Insect repellent
  • Headnet
  • Toilet paper
  • Sanitation trowel
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toothbrush
  • Permits
  • Route description
  • Camera
  • Monocular or binoculars
  • Two-way radios
  • Cell or satellite phone
  • Small amount of cash or credit card
  • Trip itinerary left w/friend + under car seat
Courtesy of REI Outdoor Tips
Lakbay LENTE 

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