Backpacking Gear List: Beginner, Intermediate & Ultralight

GEAR:30 | July 13, 2022

Image credit: Visit Ogden

While backpacking, most of your pack weight comes from your four largest pieces of gear: your backpack, tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad. Sometimes referred to as "The Big 4," the weight and durability of these items has the ability to make or break your hike.

We recommend our top picks for each of these items below, as well as the perfect hiking shoe, water filter, and stove system for your skill level.

BEGINNER KIT

If you're a backpacking beginner or are about to embark on a short trail, these picks will do more than just get the job done. Every piece of gear listed in this beginner kit is top-notch: you'll be able to hike on with the assurance that only a durable, technical, trustworthy, and comfortable kit can afford you.

Marmot - Tungsten 2P
Marmot - Tungsten 2P

Marmot - Tungsten 2P

$249.00
Mystery Ranch - Men's Bridger 55 Backpack
Mystery Ranch - Men's Bridger 55 Backpack
Mystery Ranch - Men's Bridger 55 Backpack
Mystery Ranch - Men's Bridger 55 Backpack
Mystery Ranch - Men's Bridger 55 Backpack
Mystery Ranch - Men's Bridger 55 Backpack
Mystery Ranch - Men's Bridger 55 Backpack
Mystery Ranch - Men's Bridger 55 Backpack

Mystery Ranch - Men's Bridger 55 Backpack

$329.00
Mystery Ranch - Women's Bridger 55 Backpack
Mystery Ranch - Women's Bridger 55 Backpack
Mystery Ranch - Women's Bridger 55 Backpack
Mystery Ranch - Women's Bridger 55 Backpack
Mystery Ranch - Women's Bridger 55 Backpack
Mystery Ranch - Women's Bridger 55 Backpack
Mystery Ranch - Women's Bridger 55 Backpack
Mystery Ranch - Women's Bridger 55 Backpack
Mystery Ranch - Women's Bridger 55 Backpack

Mystery Ranch - Women's Bridger 55 Backpack

$329.00
Therm-a-Rest - BaseCamp Sleeping Pad
Therm-a-Rest - BaseCamp Sleeping Pad

Therm-a-Rest - BaseCamp Sleeping Pad

$109.95
Big Agnes - Men's Torchlight Camp 20 Sleeping Bag
Big Agnes - Men's Torchlight Camp 20 Sleeping Bag
Big Agnes - Men's Torchlight Camp 20 Sleeping Bag
Big Agnes - Men's Torchlight Camp 20 Sleeping Bag
Big Agnes - Men's Torchlight Camp 20 Sleeping Bag
Big Agnes - Men's Torchlight Camp 20 Sleeping Bag
Big Agnes - Men's Torchlight Camp 20 Sleeping Bag
Big Agnes - Men's Torchlight Camp 20 Sleeping Bag
Big Agnes - Men's Torchlight Camp 20 Sleeping Bag
Big Agnes - Men's Torchlight Camp 20 Sleeping Bag
Big Agnes - Men's Torchlight Camp 20 Sleeping Bag

Big Agnes - Men's Torchlight Camp 20 Sleeping Bag

$179.95
Big Agnes - Women's Torchlight Camp 20 Sleeping Bag
Big Agnes - Women's Torchlight Camp 20 Sleeping Bag
Big Agnes - Women's Torchlight Camp 20 Sleeping Bag
Big Agnes - Women's Torchlight Camp 20 Sleeping Bag
Big Agnes - Women's Torchlight Camp 20 Sleeping Bag
Big Agnes - Women's Torchlight Camp 20 Sleeping Bag
Big Agnes - Women's Torchlight Camp 20 Sleeping Bag
Big Agnes - Women's Torchlight Camp 20 Sleeping Bag
Big Agnes - Women's Torchlight Camp 20 Sleeping Bag
Big Agnes - Women's Torchlight Camp 20 Sleeping Bag

Big Agnes - Women's Torchlight Camp 20 Sleeping Bag

$179.95
Oboz - Men's Bridger Mid B-dry Waterproof Boot
Oboz - Men's Bridger Mid B-dry Waterproof Boot
Oboz - Men's Bridger Mid B-dry Waterproof Boot
Oboz - Men's Bridger Mid B-dry Waterproof Boot
Oboz - Men's Bridger Mid B-dry Waterproof Boot
Oboz - Men's Bridger Mid B-dry Waterproof Boot

Oboz - Men's Bridger Mid B-dry Waterproof Boot

$180.00
Oboz - Women's Bridger Mid B-dry Waterproof Boot
Oboz - Women's Bridger Mid B-dry Waterproof Boot
Oboz - Women's Bridger Mid B-dry Waterproof Boot
Oboz - Women's Bridger Mid B-dry Waterproof Boot
Oboz - Women's Bridger Mid B-dry Waterproof Boot
Oboz - Women's Bridger Mid B-dry Waterproof Boot

Oboz - Women's Bridger Mid B-dry Waterproof Boot

$180.00
MSR - WindBurner Personal 1.0L Stove System
MSR - WindBurner Personal 1.0L Stove System
MSR - WindBurner Personal 1.0L Stove System
MSR - WindBurner Personal 1.0L Stove System
MSR - WindBurner Personal 1.0L Stove System

MSR - WindBurner Personal 1.0L Stove System

$169.95
MSR - MiniWorks® EX Microfilter
MSR - MiniWorks® EX Microfilter

MSR - MiniWorks® EX Microfilter

$109.95

INTERMEDIATE KIT

When backpacking longer or more difficult trails, every pound counts. This kit edges into ultralight territory, ensuring you can hike as many miles as possible with a pack that's super light without sacrificing your comfort.

MSR - Elixir 2 Backpacking Tent
MSR - Elixir 2 Backpacking Tent
MSR - Elixir 2 Backpacking Tent
MSR - Elixir 2 Backpacking Tent
MSR - Elixir 2 Backpacking Tent
MSR - Elixir 2 Backpacking Tent
MSR - Elixir 2 Backpacking Tent
MSR - Elixir 2 Backpacking Tent
MSR - Elixir 2 Backpacking Tent
MSR - Elixir 2 Backpacking Tent

MSR - Elixir 2 Backpacking Tent

$289.95
Mystery Ranch - Terraframe 65 Pack
Mystery Ranch - Terraframe 65 Pack
Mystery Ranch - Terraframe 65 Pack
Mystery Ranch - Terraframe 65 Pack
Mystery Ranch - Terraframe 65 Pack
Mystery Ranch - Terraframe 65 Pack
Mystery Ranch - Terraframe 65 Pack
Mystery Ranch - Terraframe 65 Pack
Mystery Ranch - Terraframe 65 Pack
Mystery Ranch - Terraframe 65 Pack
Mystery Ranch - Terraframe 65 Pack

Mystery Ranch - Terraframe 65 Pack

$449.00
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad

$179.95
Big Agnes - Anvil Horn 15 Sleeping Bag (650 DownTek)
Big Agnes - Anvil Horn 15 Sleeping Bag (650 DownTek)
Big Agnes - Anvil Horn 15 Sleeping Bag (650 DownTek)
Big Agnes - Anvil Horn 15 Sleeping Bag (650 DownTek)
Big Agnes - Anvil Horn 15 Sleeping Bag (650 DownTek)

Big Agnes - Anvil Horn 15 Sleeping Bag (650 DownTek)

$269.95
Oboz - Women's Sawtooth X Low Waterproof Hiking Shoe
Oboz - Women's Sawtooth X Low Waterproof Hiking Shoe
Oboz - Women's Sawtooth X Low Waterproof Hiking Shoe
Oboz - Women's Sawtooth X Low Waterproof Hiking Shoe
Oboz - Women's Sawtooth X Low Waterproof Hiking Shoe

Oboz - Women's Sawtooth X Low Waterproof Hiking Shoe

$150.00
Oboz - Men's Sawtooth X Low B-Dry Waterproof Hiking Shoe
Oboz - Men's Sawtooth X Low B-Dry Waterproof Hiking Shoe

Oboz - Men's Sawtooth X Low B-Dry Waterproof Hiking Shoe

$150.00
MSR - PocketRocket 2 Stove
MSR - PocketRocket 2 Stove
MSR - PocketRocket 2 Stove
MSR - PocketRocket 2 Stove
MSR - PocketRocket 2 Stove

MSR - PocketRocket 2 Stove

$49.95
MSR - Titan Kettle
MSR - Titan Kettle

MSR - Titan Kettle

$69.95
Platypus - Platy QuickDraw
Platypus - Platy QuickDraw
Platypus - Platy QuickDraw
Platypus - Platy QuickDraw

Platypus - Platy QuickDraw

$44.95

ULTRALIGHT KIT

We don't currently carry our top pick for an ultralight pack, but it's more than worth mentioning: Pa'lante packs. One of the buzziest ultralight backpacks on the market today, Pa'lante packs are currently manufactured right here in Utah. Learn more about them by reading our recent interview with Pa'lante founder Andrew Bentz, then get your hands on one by shopping their site.

You might notice there isn't a backpacking stove recommendation in this kit. If you didn't know, now you know: many thru-hikers opt for a cold-soak system to shed a couple of pounds off their pack weight. This usually consists of filling a single plastic container with an airtight lid—like an empty peanut butter or Talenti gelato jar—with dry ingredients and water and allowing it to "cook" in their packs while they hike. Want to see how going stoveless works? Check out this YouTube video.

MSR - FreeLite 3 Ultralight Backpacking Tent
MSR - FreeLite 3 Ultralight Backpacking Tent
MSR - FreeLite 3 Ultralight Backpacking Tent

MSR - FreeLite 3 Ultralight Backpacking Tent

$589.95
Therm-a-Rest - NeoAir Uberlight Sleeping Pad
Therm-a-Rest - NeoAir Uberlight Sleeping Pad
Therm-a-Rest - NeoAir Uberlight Sleeping Pad

Therm-a-Rest - NeoAir Uberlight Sleeping Pad

$189.95
Western Mountaineering - Terralite 25 Sleeping Bag
Western Mountaineering - Terralite 25 Sleeping Bag
Western Mountaineering - Terralite 25 Sleeping Bag
Western Mountaineering - Terralite 25 Sleeping Bag

Western Mountaineering - Terralite 25 Sleeping Bag

$545.00
Altra - Men's Lone Peak 6 Trail Running Shoe
Altra - Men's Lone Peak 6 Trail Running Shoe

Altra - Men's Lone Peak 6 Trail Running Shoe

$140.00
Altra - Women's Lone Peak 6 Trail Running Shoe
Altra - Women's Lone Peak 6 Trail Running Shoe

Altra - Women's Lone Peak 6 Trail Running Shoe

$140.00
Platypus - Platy QuickDraw
Platypus - Platy QuickDraw
Platypus - Platy QuickDraw
Platypus - Platy QuickDraw

Platypus - Platy QuickDraw

$44.95

Shop all backpacking gear HERE.
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