The most obvious season-specific gear is clothes. Winter backpackers should dress in layers including a synthetic base layer, a warm layer and a waterproof outer shell. They also should use waterproof boots and gloves, wool socks and never wear cotton.
backpack (3,500 – 5,000 cubic inches)
sleeping bag, rated to 20F
Eating & Drinking
water bottles (at least two 1-liter bottle)
water purification (filter or iodine)
stove and fuel
matches and lighter
lightweight bowl and spoon
utility knife (e.g. Swiss Army-type)
Food for the length of the outing plus 1 day’s worth
boots (broken in and waterproofed)
camp shoes (old tennis sneaks, sports sandals, or moccasins)
3 pair socks (no cotton! wool or synthetic, liners or not – your preference)
1 pair long underwear bottoms (synthetic)
1 pair shorts
1 T-shirt (cotton or synthetic)
rain jacket and pants
wool or fleece sweater or jacket
wool/fleece gloves or mittens
compass (if you know how to use it)
maps and guidebook
small flashlight or headlamp
toilet paper in zipper-lock bag
plastic potty trowel
extra zipper-lock/trash bags
toothbrush/toothpaste (travel size)
first aid kit
pack rain cover or garbage bag
extra long underwear top, wool shirt, or fleece vest if you tend to be cold (pick only one)
small hair brush/comb
journal & pen
small strainer (for filtering food particles while cleaning dishes
Contact lens wearers: bring solution and back-up glasses
In the 1930s, the Mountaineers, a Seattle-based hiking, climbing, and conservation organization, came up with a list of 10 essential items that no climber should be without.
Map. A map not only tells you where you are and how far you have to go, it can help you find campsites, water, and an emergency exit route in case of an accident.
Compass. A compass can help you find your way through unfamiliar terrain – especially in bad weather where you can’t see the landmarks.
Water and a way to purify it. Without enough water, your body’s muscles and organs simply can’t perform as well: You’ll be susceptible to hypothermia and altitude sickness. not to mention the abject misery of raging thirst.
Extra Food. Any number of things could keep you out longer than expected: a lengthy detour, getting lost, an injury, difficult terrain. A few ounces of extra food will help keep up energy and morale.
Rain Gear and extra clothing. Because the weatherman is not always right. Especially above treeline, bring along extra layers. Two rules: Avoid cotton (it keeps moisture close to your skin), and always carry a hat.
Firestarter and matches. The warmth of a fire and a hot drink can help prevent an encounter with hypothermia. And fires are a great way to signal for help if you get lost.
First aid kit. Prepackaged first aid kits for hikers are available at outfitters. Double your effectiveness with knowledge: Take a basic first aid class with the American Red Cross or a Wilderness First Aid class, offered by many hiking organizations.
Army knife or multi-purpose tool. These enable you to cut strips of cloth into bandages, remove splinters, fix broken eyeglasses, and perform a whole host of repairs on malfunctioning gear – not to mention cut cheese and open cans.
Flashlight and extra bulbs. For finding your way in the dark and signaling for help.
Sun screen and sun glasses. Especially above treeline when there is a skin-scorching combination of sun and snow, you’ll need sunglasses to prevent snow blindness, and sunscreen to prevent sunburn.
Question: How heavy should/can my pack be?
I have always used the rule of thumb, 30% your body weight as a max.
Here is one of the best answers I saw on the web.
There is no set weight or ratio for what a “full” backpack should weigh. There used to be a requirement for the second class rank, in the Boy Scouts of America, that scouts hike 1/4 mile with a backpack weighing at least 12 lbs. And, there are requirements for merit badges and awards that require a weight of 30 lbs. for longer hikes.
The weight of the backpack that any person should be able to haul is dependent on the person’s size, conditioning and the design (especially weight distribution and padding) of the backpack. And, the actual load is dependent on the distance terrain and time that the backpacker will cover. That’s why lighter weight equipment and dried foods are such an important part of a backpacker’s thinking when packing to go. Also, the way the pack is packed makes all the difference in what kinds of loads a hiker can carry. The best resource on this is, believe it or not, the Boy Scouts of America. The Boy Scout manual, Field Book, and the backpacking merit badge book are chock full of good reference materials about preparation, packing, repacking, trail saavy and safety. The best source of this information on-line is a website called merit badge worksheets. Get onto that web page and scroll down to the backpacking merit badge and open that file. It has all the requirements and a link to the worksheets. Your local Scout store has all the other references.
Day packs with no frame and little or no padding for the waist, back and shoulders should hold no more than 20 pounds and can really only be carried by even well-conditioned hikers for a couple of miles before becoming uncomfortable.
Lightweight backpacks with a frame (internal or external) are designed to shift the weight from the shoulders to the hips and back so that more weight can be distributed for longer hauls. Shoulder straps, belts and even the frame are padded for comfort. With a pack like this, even a 110 lb. cheerleader in moderate condition can carry 30-35 pounds for quite some distance. Everest climbers never exceed 40 pounds at any time during their climb. Well seasoned backpackers on the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails usually start with their packs in the 35-40 pound range.