• alissaward

My Ultimate Backpacking Gear List

Updated: Aug 9, 2021

Backpacking is something I have come to love over the past few years. It’s the only time that I really do slow down and my phone away (although I still often listen to podcasts while on the trail). I think there’s a bit of a misconception when it comes to being in the outdoors, in that it is a “free” activity. If you’re heading out on a trail that doesn’t require permits this may be true, and while you don’t need the top of the line gear by any means, there is still quite a bit of gear to have in order to be safe and prepared. When it came to buying all of my gear, I did more research than probably the average person would do, watching countless videos of different backpack styles, reading reviews about pot sizes, etc., and figured some of you may benefit from knowing what I use. My extensive research partially comes from my personality, but also because I was in a car accident a few years ago, that resulted in some injuries including lower back pain that still irritates me here and there. As such, I usually tend to spend a little more to have gear that will help displace the weight on my body.

Backpack: Osprey Ariel 55L

I cannot recommend this backpack enough. I spent countless hours researching these packs to be sure that it would suffice my back even with a heavy load and it has not disappointed.

Important Note: Throughout my research I came across two different styles though, the North American and the European. The North American version is stocked in New Zealand, whereas the European is stocked in Australia for some odd reason. If you are going to invest in this pack, get the North American version. Within the North American version, the detachable top turns into a daypack that you can use whereas the European version simply has a rain cover included instead. Believe me, buying a rain cover separately is much better option for convenience purposes.

Sleeping Bag: Marmot Women’s Celestrum 20°F 650 Fill Down

Although this sleeping bag is discontinued, I absolutely love it. It has two zippers which I find really helpful to help regulate my temperature. If i’m too warm I usually unzip the zipper from my feet, so I can let my feet out while still keeping my upper body zipped up. There are two pockets on the inside which I usually store melatonin, ear plugs, and my car keys in overnight. I haven’t used this in extreme weather, but it has certainly kept me warm when I have needed it most.

Sleeping Pad: Sea to Summit Comfort Light Insulated Sleeping Mat

After laying on a few different ones in store, I found this by far the most comfortable. Sleep is something I definitely don’t like to compromise when in the outdoors, so I splurged on this and haven’t regretted it since.

Pillows: Sea To Summit Aeros Pillow

I own two and usually use both when backpacking. Again to help with my back, I use one between my knees while sleeping in addition to the one for my head. The small space that they take up in my pack far outweighs using my extra layers or my down jacket as a pillow.


I’m currently using a $40 Canadian Tire tent, that my parents brought from Canada when they came to visit me last year. Far from waterproof, this little guy combined with a tarp underneath and its fly certainly does the job for mild weather. This is the next investment item I’m looking to get once backpacking is a reality again, but if anyone wants to give me one, I wouldn’t be opposed.

Hiking Boots: Lowa Renegade GTX Mid 

I have really narrow feet and feel these accommodate that. I lace them with a Surgeon’s Knot to help with heel slip to reduce friction and ultimately blisters. These guys are water proof and I like the higher rise, given that many of the hikes I end up on are muddy, so even if I do sink a little bit, my feet manage to stay protected.

Camp Shoes: Ecco Offroad

I find at the end of a long day of hiking, my feet are always ready to change into these, despite being on the tacky side. They are extremely supportive though, so if for any reason my hiking boots ever became too unbearable, I would be able to hike a dry trail fairly comfortably in these.

Water Bladder: Osprey Hydraulics LT Reservoir 2.5L 

This came with another Osprey daypack that I have, but if I were to purchase it separately I would get an even litre size, (either 2L or 3L), as these have a structured back that makes them easier to load into a full pack. I store mine in the freezer when I’m not using it to help prevent mold. I also have the Magnet Kit that attaches to my back pack chest strap as well as the Bite Valve Cover to keep dirt off of the mouthpiece whenever I take my pack off on a trail.

I definitely prefer a water bladder over bottles while I’m hiking as I find I drink way more this way as I don’t have to awkwardly reach into the side of my pack every time I want a drink and haven’t had any complaints. I somehow sliced open my water bladder, but easily repaired it with an adhesive and have not had any leaks since.

Camera Clip: Peak Design Capture Camera Clip 

I have both this clip for my digital camera, but also the additional P.O.V Kits that allows me to mount my GoPro as well, although I don’t often end up using this option. These make capturing moments on the trail much more accessible.

Stove: MSR Pocket Rocket/ Jetboil Flash

I really do love how compact this is, but have wavered on picking up a Jetboil as well and finally made the leap this week. The Pocket Rocket does cook food evenly and my pot is really compatible with it (listed below), but it does take a significant amount of time to boil. However, the Jetboil can hold a decent amount (two pasta packets) and cook evenly in a significantly less amount of time than the Pocket Rocket. I’m excited to use this to make summit hot chocolate in under two minutes as well.

Pots & Bowls: Sea to Summit X Series 

I decided on the 2.8L pot, instead of the 1L, as the additional weight and size was fairly nonexistent. I watched some tutorials on being able to cook more thorough meals, boiling vegetables for example in the larger pot ( I was certainly kidding myself there, it works perfectly for 3 packaged pastas though). I have made countless Caesar salads in it though which helps me get a bit of greens in.

Even when backpacking I have a small appetite. I find that the cups are the perfect serving for my breakfast and dinner, so I have one with a screw on lid and another without a lid, usually for someone else to use or as I cup for water at camp if I don’t bring along my water bottle. Now that I have the Jetboil I can eat out of this pot, but I will likely still use these collapsible cups just because of their convenience and they don’t add much weight.

Reusable Water Bottle: 21oz Hydroflask with sports cap

There definitely is some added weight to this, but I like having the sports cap rather than other wide mouth bottles, and the luxury of cold water on the trails definitely helps to keep me going.

camp mug supply co 

These are handmade in the United States. I’ve certainly given my a few good dings and it holds up fairly well. It is hot to the touch though.

First Aid Kit: 

Always be sure to pack the 10 Essentials!


If you are travelling somewhere in order to do your hiking, I definitely recommend an Osprey Airporter Transit Tote pack as it ensures none of your straps get caught or broken en route to your trip, plus it allows you more space to pack items as long as you are within the weight limit. I may end up doing another blog post on my packing tips as I’ve found some creative ways to carry my life around with me.

After getting most of my gear, I learned that some retailers will actually let you rent gear, which helps you determine if it’s right for you before fully committing. Or if you don’t have space to store multiple seasons worth of gear this is another great option. Back in Canada, MEC is a great resource for this.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to put them below and I’d love to hear what gear you can’t live without!

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