Selecting the right clothing for a backpacking trip for me is an ongoing learning process. Of course with backpacking the goal is to pack light. (Hopefully this year I will implement some of these ideas when packing for the beach). In an attempt to pack light one must make sure to pack also right. Don't sacrifice the necessities just to keep the weight down having a check list and packing accordingly will allow opportunities for packing your entire backpack so that you have the right weight and the right items. There are a lot of items that need to fit in your pack so packing with purpose is imperative.
Each trip we take we become more and more efficient and effective in our packing and each time we go we identify items that we took but did not need.
I have mentioned before that we are not extreme adventurers so the clothing we are referencing below would cover temperature ranges from hot (which by the way we won't go if it's smoldering hot out) to the 20’s. Temperatures in the teens require more insulation and precaution. Also if conditions are wet the most important thing will be to get dry.
We generally look for clothing that is waterproof or quick drying, light weight and breathable and wicking. (Oh fun, another reason to shop and I LOVE it!)
Ideally the items below should be enough for what ever your length of stay in the great outdoors is, clothes can be washed on the trail along the way.
Here is our list of must haves:
- Two sets of underwear, one to be worn and one for a change - We love ExOfficio
- One set of long thermal underwear - I love my Hot Chillys Peppers
- Two pairs of hiking socks, one to be worn and one for a change - Look for brands that keep your feet dry
- One pair of quick-drying shorts - In the summer you will likely start off wearing the shorts and transition to pants by sun down
- One pair of long hiking pants
- One Nylon Belt
- One short sleeve shirt - I prefer a synthetic fabric as opposed to cotton as they are cooler and dry faster if I am sweaty or get rained on
- One long sleeved shirt
- One pair of rain pants
- One compressible rain jacket
- One fleece or dry down jacket - We both have the Sierra Design DriDown Gnar Lite jacket
- One Buff - I don't have one of these yet but on our last trip I found myself really wishing I had one of these just to give my neck some extra coverage when it got cooler and it would make a great head wrap for day two - A handkerchief would be a good substitute
- One sun hat - A baseball cap works well and will provide a little protection from the sun and rain
- One warm hat - Knit or fleece cap
- One pair of gloves - Look for a pair that will keep your hands warm but allows movement you will still need to tend to the fire
- One great well broken in pair of hiking boots or shoes - I wear hiking shoes but when climbing over rocky terrain I find my self wishing I had bought boots for the added ankle stability, boots will be my next purchase
- One pair of camp shoes - I like to have a pair of shoes I can slip on and off to wear around the camp site once we are settled there for the evening
This sounds like a lot but if you stick to the quantities above and use a compression sack like this one below you will have room to spare in your pack!
REI is a great place to start looking for the must haves, they will have everything you need for your trip!
What other clothing items are a must for you when backpacking? What are your favorite items/brands?