Completing a gear list is one of the most important and most beneficial steps in preparing for a backpacking trip. A fully featured gear list can be used to:
- Pack virtually (and avoid a gear explosion in the guest room),
- Organize systems (e.g. clothing, shelter, kitchen),
- Calculate pack weight,
- Budget and track new purchases,
- Prepare trips in the future, and
- Check immediately pre-trip that all items are packed.
As part of the Planning Curriculum for my guided trips, every client is required to complete a gear list. To assist them in this process, I provide them with a gear list template, the same that I’ve embedded below. Since 2011 this template has been used by over 1,000 clients on 129 trips; it’s updated and refined annually.
Compared to other gear lists online, I believe mine does two things better:
1. It’s broadly applicable, including all 3-seasons, all North American locations, all trip lengths, all ages and genders, all ability levels, and most backpacking styles.
2. It’s instructive, not just a list. It includes helpful comments, examples, and links to more information.
Backpacking Gear List Template & Checklist
Download & edit the template
If you simply need a backpacking checklist, download the template as a PDF.
To use this spreadsheet as a template for your own gear list, you must make your own copy:
- In a new tab or window, open the file Backpacking Gear List Template & Checklist.
- If you do not have a Google account or if you prefer other software besides Google Docs, under “File” select “Download as” to generate your own Excel or CSV file. Otherwise,
- Log in with your Google account, if you are not already.
- Under “File” select “Make a copy.” Find your own copy of the file in Google Drive.
Instructions after download
Erase sample cells
In cells F3:P11, I included sample information to demonstrate how the template should be used. Erase these cells and fill them back in with your own selections.
I suppose you could erase cells B1:E130, too, but I think most users will find them to be a useful reference. You can also hide these columns to get them out of the way.
Think twice before adding rows
This template has been extensively tested, and space for all reasonable items has already been included. You should not need to add rows for additional items or categories.
That said, it’s your gear list, so do what you want. If you think my template is missing something though, please leave a comment — I’m open to additional edits.
If rows are rearranged, the weight calculators must be redone
With basic spreadsheet know-how, this is straightforward. If the SUM function means nothing to you, however, my recommendation is to leave the template organized as-is.
IMPORTANT: Don’t pack everything on the list!
Gear selection should be dictated by:
- Your backpacking style, i.e. ratio of hiking versus camping; and,
- When, where, and for how long you are going, i.e. environmental and route conditions.
So that this template is broadly applicable, it includes many items that would be optional or completely unnecessary for your specific trip — but critical for others. For example, for a summertime Appalachian Trail section-hike, you don’t need insulated pants or an ice axe, but you may want both for a John Muir Trail thru-hike in June.
To determine the relevance of each product category, research the likely conditions, review trip-specific gear lists, and seek commentary on your selections.
How can I make this template + checklist more useful for you? Share your ideas, and tell me what you think of it.
Disclosure. I strive to offer field-tested and trustworthy information, insights, and advice. I have no financial affiliations with or interests in any brands or products, and I do not publish sponsored content
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