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Backcountry Camping Gear Checklist at Cabela's

Backcountry Camping Gear Checklist

Author: Kathleen Pilney

When you're car camping and you forget to bring the matches, rain gear or a particular food item, it's no big deal. Ultimately, these items are still within reach. You simply walk the 50 paces back to your vehicle to retrieve it. Or you ask the neighbors one campsite over to take pity on you.

It's not that easy when you're seven miles within the remote backcountry.

These outings are more involved than a front-country excursion. They take deliberate planning and ingenuity, which is both the allure and the possible perils of backcountry trips. We've provided a list of items so you'll remember that particular "thing" that gets you out of a pinch. Also note the tips and tricks to maximize the output of your gear. Backpacking is all about planning – so print off this list and check it twice to make sure you have everything you need to stay safe. Just remember to pack light, pack smart and pack in a lot of fun!

Camping Equipment

Item Notes or tips
Overnight backpack

Use keyword search "Backpack Buyer's Guide" for considerations.
Lightweight one-man backcountry tent

Tip: You may also opt to carry a two- to four-man tent and split poles, fly and tent amongst the hiking party to lessen load.
Sleeping bag

Tip: There is no standardized rating system for sleeping bag temperatures, so each vary by manufacturer. Seek advice from your local Cabela's retailer before making a purchase.
Compression sack

Compresses the sleeping bag into a space-saving size, plus protects from rain if it's waterproof material.
Tip: Stuff items like a down jacket, sweaters or insulating layers inside to use as a pillow.
Sleeping pad

Did you know? Sleeping pads offer much more than comfort. They insulate your body from the heat-robbing ground, which is essential for keeping warm overnight.

Trekking poles

They also can be used to hold up a tent fly, wing or tarp for a minimalist, lightweight roomy shelter.

Kitchen Essentials

Item Notes or tips
Backpack stove and fuel

Base decision on what size cooking containers you will be heating and how long your trip is.
Dish soap

Using a product like Dr. Bronner's biodegradable soap is great for washing dishes. You can also use it as a toothpaste, body wash and shampoo to save space.
Washcloth, bandanna or sponge

Tip: Use the washcloth or bandanna to filter out coffee grounds when making cowboy coffee, and to filter out food crumbs from dishwater for proper sump hole disposal.
Garbage bags with drawstring handle

Base decision on what size cooking containers you will be heating and how long your trip is.
Waterproof matches/lighter

Tip: Carrying both a lighter and matches is not only wise should the lighter fluid freeze in cold temperatures, but good preparedness for emergency situations. Enclose them in a sealed baggie. Carry one on your person and the other in your backpack.

Trail snacks high in protein, carbohydrates and salt.
Mountain House® dehydrated meals.
Breakfast bars

Multipurpose knife

Water bottle or hydration reservoir and water filter

Sealable baggies/shopping bags to pack out trash

Compact cookware, cup and silverware



Item Notes or tips
Moisture-wicking base layers: Polartec®, Capilene, Under Armour® ColdGear®
Midweight middle layers: Fleece, ripstop material
Insulating/waterproof top layers: Jacket, rainwear, wool sweater

Tip: Layering allows for more versatility and adjustability to ever-changing temperatures and conditions.
Hiking shoes

Tip: Treat boots with water repellent before your trip to allow for drying time.

Socks and long underwear

Tip: Keep an extra set of each enclosed in a sealed baggie to keep them dry.

Safety Essentials

Item Notes or tips
First-aid kit

Bear spray

Area maps/GPS/compass

Fire starter

Tip: Create your own by filling the inside of an emptied toilet paper roll with lint and fabric softer.
Emergen-C® powder drink or CamelBak® Elixir Electrolyte Tablets

Tip:Carry a few packets of Emergen-C® in your first-aid kit and pour into water or swallow dry for a quick boost of electrolytes and energy. Elixir Electrolyte Tablets are the same thing in a tablet form.


Item Notes or tips
Wet wipes
Antibacterial hand sanitizer

Dental floss

Tip: Floss can double as thread should you need to repair clothing.




Item Notes or tips
Rope/parachute cord

Tip: Parachute cord is a light and durable alternative used for repairs, to hang food, or to hold up a tarp.
Baseball cap



Duct tape

Tip: Use it as a quick fix-it tool for a variety of repairs. It's also great for covering blisters. Wrap a strip of tape around a water bottle to lighten your carry load.
Zip ties

Another great, lightweight equipment fixer-upper.