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The Ultimate Summer Backpacking Gear Guide

Written by Tim Wenger

THERE’S A SPECIAL feeling you get when you buy a new piece of backpacking gear. It could be a small item, like a sleeping bag liner or a merino T-shirt, or a bigger one, like a tent or backpack, that completely revolutionizes your backpacking experience. There’s something satisfying about building out your gear setup and options, and having the right items makes it easier to execute and feel comfortable on bigger and better trips.

Backpacking or distance-hiking equipment usually makes a great gift for the outdoorsy people in your life as it’s always fun to try out near gear and supplies on the trail. The right gear can be the difference between a good outdoor experience and a downright risky one. Here’s all the summer backpacking gear you need to ensure you’re properly prepared for your upcoming — and no doubt epic — night spent under the stars.

  • Big-ticket items
  • Inside your pack
  • Backpacking clothes and small items

Getting prepared for summer

While backpacking is the ultimate adventure during long summer days, optimizing the trip takes a decent amount of advanced planning — and the right gear. Being unprepared is the fastest way to ruin the journey for yourself and everyone in your group. You’ll need to carry far more gear than you’d pack for a day hike, including multiple layers of clothing, camping supplies, and food and cooking supplies. But if you’ve never gone backpacking before and agreed to join your buddies without knowing what you were getting into, never fear: we’ve compiled the ultimate summer backpacking gear guide for beginners.

When planning your trip, note that every route is different in different ways. On guided treks, the host company should offer a list of the required gear, along with some additional comfort items or specialty gear they’d recommend. And usually, “trekking” means sleeping in huts or semi-permanent shelters, whereas backpacking is entirely self-sufficient and in nature (and hence requires a bit more gear). Trekking companies may even rent out certain items that are tough to travel with, such as sleeping bags or backpacks with frames. On unguided hikes — a.k.a backpacking — it’s up to you to know what you need. That said, in Europe and other parts of the world, it’s common to refer to both hiking and backpacking as trekking. So they’re sort of interchangeable.

Fortunately, the list here has the basics, no matter what trip you’re taking. You can buy everything here at the links provided or potentially your favorite local outdoor store.

LAST UPDATED

December 3, 2023

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