The Ultimate Backcountry Gear Guide—Everything You Need To Know


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The Ultimate Backcountry Gear Guide—Everything You Need To Know


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Note: there are affiliate links in this post and I may earn a small commission if you choose to purchase an item (at no additional cost to you). These funds go right back into creating content just like this and support my small business. If you do choose to purchase something, thank you for your support!

I can still remember my first time camping in the backcountry. I lugged up a yoga mat to sleep on, four semi-warm jackets, a glass Tupperware container of pre-cooked pasta, and no cooking system to heat up any food or drink. The weather was forecasted to be sunny, but it ended up raining most of the time. Let’s just say that it was an experience I’ll never forget. Since then, it has been 8 years and I’ve learned a thing or two about the gear needed for camping in the backcountry. Keep in mind that I haven’t tried every piece of gear on the market, but I do believe in the items below. If you’re looking to start hiking or camping in the glorious backcountry, or if you’re already an outdoor lover but want my opinion on gear, this blog post is for you.

Packing for an overnight trip can be overwhelming, so I’m here to help you as much as I can. Over the years, I created a master packing list that I looked at when I needed to prep for an adventure. With every hiking and camping trip, I learned from my mistakes, what gear works (and what gear doesn’t work), other people’s outdoor tips, and ended up with a rock-solid list to reference. At the end of this blog post, you’ll find my backpacking checklist. Feel free to download it and use it when packing for your next adventure! Keep in mind that this list is suited for summer adventures. For spring, fall, and winter you will most likely need more layers and/or other products.


It took me years to collect and invest in all of the gear I own and use today. When I first started hiking, I used what I had around the house, borrowed gear from friends, and bought gear second-hand. Don’t be afraid to do the same! If you want to build your perfect backcountry camping setup without breaking the bank, here are a few tips:

  1. Buy gear that lasts. If you buy gear from brands you can depend on, you will save money in the long run because it’ll last for years. Should anything go wrong with your gear, many of these companies offer repairs (ie. REI, Osprey, Patagonia, Arc’teryx, MSR, Marmot, and more). I’ve had the same MSR tent and cooking stove, Danner boots, Marmot sleeping bag, Therm-A-Rest sleeping pad, and Osprey backpack for YEARS! I’ll link all of these items below.
  2. Buy at the right place. I recommend buying at a place that will allow easy returns if the gear isn’t working for you, has knowledgeable staff, and a lot of selection! Bonus points if it is a co-op and you get benefits.
  3. If you can, buy at the right time (ie big sales, etc.).


On every backcountry adventure, you should have these ten essentials packed in your backpack. They don’t weigh that much in the grand scheme of things and can be distributed among your group. These items may help you in emergencies so it’s good practice to pack them. They are navigation (map, compass, altimeter, GPS device, etc.), headlamp, sun protection (hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen), first aid kit, knife, fire (matches, lighter, and stove), shelter (tent), extra food, extra water, and extra clothes!


I always look for features like, mesh in the back and/or straps for breathability, a place for a hydration reservoir, a lot of pockets, at least 20L of space, and has some sort of waist strap—and these bags have all of that and more. I like the 36L version if I have extra layers or camera gear.


A good quality and comfortable backpack makes ALL the difference when you’re about to head on an overnight adventure. I’ve used an Osprey backpack for 7 years now and I think it’s the best out there—and I can’t be the one who thinks that. Next time you’re on the trails or at a campground, take a look around… I bet you’ll see a few of these packs around. There are some awesome features about these bags but the most notable one is that the top part turns into a small day bag. This is great if you’re on an overnight or multi-day trip and want to go explore the area without taking all your gear. Another great thing about Osprey is that if something happens to your bag, they will fix (or replace) it.


“What tent do you have?” may be one of the most asked questions I get. If you’re looking for a two-person tent that is incredibly lightweight (3lbs), can be set up in less than two minutes, is spacious, has two doors and vestibules, and can handle wind and rain, this tent is it. You’re looking at the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 Tent! I’ve taken it to 12 countries, including the very windy Patagonia, and it is still my favorite. It’s a three-season tent, and even though I don’t necessarily recommend this, I have taken it winter camping a handful of times. I’m only providing one option because that’s how much I believe in this bad boy.

That said, I also would recommend Big Agnes. I have owned the 3-person version for the last year and I love it. It is incredibly light at 3lbs, has 8 interior pockets, and is super spacious and well structured.

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 Tent


A good sleeping pad is needed to stay warm and comfortable. The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xtherm Sleeping Pad and Sea To Summit Ultralight Insulated Sleeping Pad are my favorites because they are lightweight, easy to set up, and help with catching those zzzs!


If you make the right choice when buying a sleeping bag and take care of it, you can keep the same bag for years. I use the Marmot Ouray 0F Sleeping Bag which isn’t available anymore. The below options are both warm, three-season, and reliable. The Helium is lighter and a bit more expensive because of it.


I’ve used all of these and they are all winners in my books. I own both MSR systems, but I use the Windburner exclusively now. It is lightweight, easy to use, and boils water within minutes. I have also linked the fuel I buy. When I started to camp, I used the MSR PocketRocket—if you’re looking for a simple option, this may be for you. It works well, but I have never looked back since I upgraded to the Windburner and believe spending the extra $50 is worth it in the long run.


I didn’t think a camp pillow was necessary for backpacking because I always used a sweater under my head and wanted to cut weight where I could. Then, I bought this and everything changed. This pillow is incredibly light and small. It’ll completely change the way you sleep and will be one of the best purchases you’ll ever make.


I bring a water bottle like the Hydro Flask for the airport/road trip portion of every trip and on short hiking trails, and I use a Nalgene and Osprey Reservoir for hiking/backpacking. I always bring this Nalgene and 2.5L reservoir with me on every backpacking trip.


There are so many options for purifying water out on the market today but I love these two. If you usually hike alone, I’d go with the Grayl option. That said if you hike with a group of friends I’d go with the Platypus option—it filters more water faster (and easier).


I bought this BioLite headlamp two years ago and have used it ever since then. It’s rechargeable, lightweight, and has many levels of brightness. This lantern is handy for when the sun has gone down and you want some extra light in your tent or wherever you may be.


I used to say that I won’t be that person who uses poles when they hike. Why? I’m not sure. Well, I tried them out once and now I don’t want to set out on an overnight backpacking trip without them. They help distribute weight and reduce the impact on your joints.


I bring the Hydro Flask Coffee Mug with me on every camping trip and use it at night when I drink tea (a great way to stay warm) and in the morning when I drink coffee. It keeps my drink hot as I take in the views—where ever I may be.


I use the AeroPress Go Travel Coffee Press and love it. It’s a bit of an “extra” piece of gear because a lighter option would be to use instant coffee packets. It’s worth the extra weight for me!


This is the only utensil I bring outside with me and the only one I need! The long handle is a game-changer when eating dehydrated food.


This is all the food I buy from REI before every hiking and/or camping trip. Everything else I purchase from a grocery store. Click on which item you’d like to purchase below!


I always bring a power bank with me when I go on an overnight adventure to charge my phone, camera, and headlamp if needed.


I almost always have no service when I’m hiking and backcountry camping, so these options are perfect in case of an emergency or to let loved ones at home that you are safe. They are precise, comes with preloaded TOPO maps and two-way messaging. It’s more than a basic GPS with features like a digital compass, barometric altimeter, and accelerometer (which are a part of the Ten Essentials). Note: you will need to buy a subscription for the SOS and text features.


This is a part of the Ten Essentials. Everyone in your group should have their own medical kit. It’s light as air and inexpensive—no excuses.


I always carry bear spray (clipped to a strap where it’s easily accessible) and bear bangers (not pictured) (in the side pocket of my backpack). Do not leave anything that smells in the tent—this includes food, cosmetics, toiletries, lip balm, etc. I usually go with the bear bin route as it’s worlds easier to use (vs. hanging a bag in a tree).


Having these two items in your backpack on any hike or camping trip is necessary.


These items aren’t completely necessary, but they sure will help! The footprint will keep your Hubba Hubba NX 2 Tent dry and the backpack cover will keep your Osprey Ariel AG 65 Pack. I never knew I needed down booties in my life until I bought a pair and brought them into the backcountry. I actually look forward to the moment when I get to camp, take my hiking boots off and slip my feet into them—they are life-changing.


I have tried three brands in the last five years and the Danner Mountain 600 boots are my all-time favorite. They are incredibly comfortable, waterproof, lightweight, and stylish. That said, boots are really hard to recommend because everyone is so different. What may work for me, may not work for you.


I honestly can’t figure out which pair I like more, Tevas or Chacos. Apologies if that’s not very helpful… but both of these sandals are winners.


I like to wear thin, but warm, long sleeves when I camp. I usually sleep in this long sleeve.


I like to hike in long-lined crop tops or sports bras in the summer so I’m more comfortable and don’t spoil a shirt in sweat and dirt. I usually put on a shirt with more coverage when I’m exposed to the sun or if I’m chilly. I like to also buy crop tops secondhand from lululemon or Aritizia.


I always bring two warm layers with me on every camping adventure—even in the summer months. The first layer is a fleece. I usually wear Patagonia or Eddie Bauer.


The second warm layer I bring is an insulated down jacket (and really never go out in the mountains without one). These are my two favorite jackets that I’ve had for 5+ years. They are an investment but they’ll last you for so many adventures to come!


These rain jackets repel water and will last you for years. I have both of these and they are still going strong.


As you can probably tell from my photos, I almost always wear leggings. 90% of the time I wear Glyder leggings. Make sure you size down one size! Usually, I am small or medium in bottoms but I wear an xsmall in Glyder leggings. The Arc’teryx option is great if you’re keen on pockets.


I’ll be honest, I rarely wear waterproof hiking pants (because I feel restricted when I move), but I pack these with me on long treks or trips in climates that are more unpredictable. For example, I packed them on a 5-day trek in Patagonia.


Socks are key. Here are some options for thinner or thicker socks. I usually go with a thinner sock, but that is just my preference!


I always carry this hat and a beanie like this with me on every hiking and camping trip.


Having sunglasses in the backcountry is key and it’s a part of the Ten Essentials. I like to use these Ray-Ban as I can wear them out on the trail and in the city. They block 100% of harmful UV rays.

In case you’re new to backcountry camping, I want to reiterate that I’m not suggesting getting every piece of gear listed today. Instead, invest in gear at the right time (like when on sale), use what you can from what you already own, borrow from friends and buy second-hand for the time being. The most important thing is that you have all the Ten Essentials, you’ll be comfortable and happy outside—everything else can wait. Before you go, I wanted to also mention the Leave No Trace Principles. If you’d like additional info, this article goes into more detail. They are guidelines so that we can minimize our impact on the outdoors and they are:

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Others

One last thing: Are you Canadian? Please know that even though I share links to American retailers, you can still shop! Not all brands can ship to Canada and you’ll have to pay for duties when the package comes across the border. I usually go to the US (Washington specifically) and get my order shipped to a US post office or shop in-store. Then, I stay and hike in WA for a couple of days so that I’m allowed to bring the gear back. If you don’t go to the US often and you’d like to place an online order (for the brands you can shop), I suggest doing so when there’s a sale so it helps balance out the duties. It’s worth it for me because I value the selection and quality of gear.


Note: there are affiliate links in this post and I may earn a small commission if you choose to purchase an item (at no additional cost to you). These funds go right back into creating content just like this and support my small business.


Leave a comment


  1. Igor Best on July 18, 2020 at 2:57 pm

    Awesome blogg, thanks for the tips. Helped me out alot. Best regards from Amsterdam the Netherlands.

    • Angela Liguori on December 2, 2020 at 2:41 pm

      That’s music to my ears! Happy to have helped.

    • Rob Gardner on May 17, 2021 at 7:29 pm

      Awesome!! Thanks for the helpful guidance! Will come In handy on my first Berg Lake trip.

      • Angela Liguori on May 19, 2021 at 5:27 pm

        I’m stoked that you found this useful, Rob. You’re going to love it over there!

  2. Niall on August 1, 2020 at 2:08 am

    Great blog and content Julia. I’ve lived away from Canada and BC for 11 years. Moving back now and excited to get my daughters (7 and 14) in to the backcountry and camping scene. I tree planted through high school and university and am jonesing to get back out there! Your top ten hikes and gear tips are super helpful – keep it up!

    • Angela Liguori on December 2, 2020 at 2:41 pm

      I’ve always wanted to go tree planting! Happy to hear that you found this useful, Niall. Hope you get out there!

  3. Esther on September 15, 2020 at 7:34 pm

    Awesome post!!! This is super informative and useful! Thanks for sharing your adventures!!!

    • Angela Liguori on December 2, 2020 at 2:39 pm

      So happy to hear that, Esther!

  4. Dzulkifli on June 27, 2021 at 3:52 am

    Awesome post and blog, also youre picture and video in Instagram, what gear you are used for photography and video?
    Thanks for sharing

    • Angela Liguori on July 1, 2021 at 1:24 am

      Thanks so much! That means a lot. I just published a blog on what I use for photography. Check it out in the photography section of my blog.

  5. Nicole Foster on July 5, 2021 at 3:10 am

    Hi! What sports bras do you like when hiking?

    • Angela Liguori on July 13, 2021 at 6:28 pm

      Hey Nicole! I usually wear lululemon, Icebreaker and Glyder.

  6. Estelle on July 25, 2021 at 4:46 pm

    I am preparing a road trip in Alberta at the end of August and this article and checklist are perfect!
    Your IG is so inspiring ! Can’t wait to go hiking and discover our beautiful planet <3

    • Angela Liguori on August 29, 2021 at 1:04 am

      Hi Estelle! Thank you so much for the comment. It makes me so happy to hear that this checklist is helpful! It’s honestly so handy and I use it every time I pack, too. I appreciate your support and love. xx

  7. Juana on July 29, 2021 at 6:50 pm

    Your blog is amazing and so helpful. I have recently started getting into hiking and seeing your journey is really inspiring. Also what paddle board would you recommend, especially if you have to take them along on hikes?

    • Angela Liguori on August 29, 2021 at 1:02 am

      Hi Juana. Thank you so much for the kind words! I’m so happy that you’re getting into hiking. It truly is therapeutic! I love the Body Glove PERFORMER 11′ inflatable SUP board. I’ve taken it with me on hikes that are less than 45 minutes and it’s great! If it’s too heavy for you, bring a friend that will alternate carrying it.

  8. Antonio Maldonado on September 1, 2021 at 4:11 am

    Hi Angela, love your content, info, and everything you do, so i have a question
    What brand is your new tent?
    Do you recomend it? Is it better than your previous one. So i am trying to do high altitude mountaineering also, so i really want to purchase gear that i can mix up between small mountains and 7000mts to 8000mts mountains

    • Angela Liguori on September 2, 2021 at 11:44 pm

      Hi Antonio. Thanks for the comment and kind words. I have the MSR Hubba Hubba and love it! It’s about 3lbs and absolutely recommend.

  9. Behnaz on September 3, 2021 at 12:25 pm

    Hi Angela, I’m so happy to find you, and I’d like just so say I really love Your content, your posts on instagram and on your blog. They are so helpful and motivating. Thank you so much. Xx

    • Angela Liguori on October 2, 2021 at 2:22 am

      Thank you for your kindness. I’m so happy that you have found my content helpful! Music to my ears.

  10. Margaryta Fedonyuk on December 14, 2021 at 8:13 pm

    Thank you so much for your post Angela! I’m just getting into hiking and this was incredible useful! I am currently looking for a pair of leggings and was wondering: I see you wearing regular leggings even in colder environments. Are those enough to keep you warm in the winter? I was planning to buy the Arc’teryx Oriel leggings but then saw there were some insulated ones on the market (with fleece inside). I don’t live in a very cold climate but I am someone who easily gets cold. What do you reckon would be the best option in my case? Thank you in advance & much love xx

    • Angela Liguori on December 22, 2021 at 10:47 pm

      It’s truly my pleasure, Margaryta. I’d suggest wearing thermal leggings (with fleece inside) in the winter and even a snow/hiking pant as a second layer.

  11. Maroon on January 12, 2022 at 5:00 am

    Hello Angela,
    Thank youfor this blog and for sharing your experience and tips. I’m a backpacker too and I can say that you are sharing with us really the best quality of materials. I’m using your blog as a refrence for my trips.
    High level of professionalism ! Bravo!
    Hope we can travel together one day!
    Keep up the good work.

    • Angela Liguori on January 18, 2022 at 2:13 am

      Hi Maroon, thank you so much for the comment. I am thrilled that you have found value in this post. I can’t wait for backpacking season!

  12. Zhara Levin on June 2, 2022 at 3:33 am

    Hey Angela! Love your blog and your instagram feed – finally got me to step back up on my photography game. Quick question – the links go to backcountry and they ship from the US. Have you had any issues with returns on any off chances and did you end up paying any extra taxes on your orders to the courier at the broder? I’m looking to pick up the Marmot sleeping bags but wanted to be a tad cautious shipping from the US ( first time ) across the border.

    • Angela Liguori on June 13, 2022 at 5:14 pm

      Hey Zhara! I usually send them to a PO box in Blaine, WA to avoid duties—because you will be charged them if they are sent to Canada. There are a bunch of PO boxes/mail offices in Blaine and all you have to do is pay $2 for each package when you pick them up. I grab them when I come back from WA/OR as I go there to hike sometimes. You can bring back certain amounts depending on how long you’ve been in the US. So if you were there for the weekend, you can bring back ~$400. Definitely google it to double-check the amounts 🙂

  13. Rebecca on September 4, 2022 at 10:21 pm

    I found your page after a trip to BC and have it saved! As a beginner, I find myself referring back to it daily for tips and tricks. I’m trying to acquire the gear necessary for hikes but its so pricy! How do you afford all of the equipment/do you have any tips on affording it? I’d love to know as a gal that fell in love with the outdoors and want to experience it in all its glory!

    • Angela Liguori on September 23, 2022 at 8:11 pm

      Hi Rebecca! Thanks for being here 🙂 I acquired my gear over five years. I suggest buying used gear. That’s how I started out since gear is so expensive. You can try FB Marketplace or Poshmark. Some outdoor stores, like Eddie Bauer, Patagonia, REI, etc., have a section on their website for used gear which is great

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