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Backpacking Checklist (Gear List): 3-Season, 3-Day

An example of what a lightweight backpacker might take on a 3-day outing.

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by Ryan Jordan | 2011-10-11 03:00:00-06

Backpacking Checklist (Gear List): 3-Season, 3-Day

Revised and Updated: October 2011

Seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall
Length of Trip: 3-Day Weekend

Context: The gear list provided below is an example of how a lightweight backpacker might select equipment for a 3-day weekend outing. Generally, the choices below are suitable for most 'three-season' conditions in the mountain ranges of continental U.S., recognizing that some level of skill and experience is required to successfully use this equipment kit in inclement conditions. More experienced backpackers can trim weight even further from this list, while less experienced backpackers will find that an extra pound or two of clothing, shelter, and/or food will give them a more acceptable level of comfort and safety.

Some examples of brands and models/styles are listed below for reference only. They neither represent an endorsement of that particular product nor a suggestion that the product listed is the best choice in the context of any particular situation.

(Right) Participants in Backpacking Light's Wilderness Trekking School "2011 Ultralight Backpacking Boot Camp" travel for a week on Montana's Beartooth Plateau with starting pack weights of less than twenty pounds. Ryan Jordan photo.

Clothing Worn

hat with brim wide-brimmed water-resistant nylon hat REI Lightweight Fitness Runner's Cap 2.0 oz (57 g)
hiking shirt lightweight merino wool long sleeve crew Patagonia Wool 2 Merino Crew 7.4 oz (210 g)
underwear trim-fitting support shorts, boxer-style Rail Riders Ultralight Boxer Briefs 3.0 oz (85 g)
hiking pants soft shell stretchwoven long pants Patagonia Rock Guide Pants 10.5 oz (298 g)
hiking socks lightweight merino wool trail running socks Darn Tough Merino Wool Micro Crew 1.5 oz (43 g)
hiking shoes breathable synthetic trail running shoes Inov-8 X-Talon 212 16.0 oz (454 g)

Other Items Worn / Carried

trekking poles adjustable, carbon fiber Gossamer Gear LT4 7.2 oz (204 g)
whistle pealess whistle on Spectra cord ACR Whistle, AirCore Spectra cord lanyard 1.0 oz (28 g)
watch compass / altimeter watch Suunto Core 1.6 oz (45 g)

Other Clothing

wind shirt thin, breathable full zip, hooded wind shirt Patagonia Houdini 4.3 oz (122 g)
insulation layer high loft synthetic or down jacket Western Mountaineering Hooded Flash Jacket 9.0 oz (255 g)
rain jacket waterproof-breathable, full zip hooded jacket GoLite Malpais Trinity 7.5 oz (213 g)
rain pants waterproof-breathable, simple pull-on GoLite Tumalo 7.0 oz (198 g)
warm hat light fleece balaclava Outdoor Research Wind Pro Balaclava 2.0 oz (57 g)
warm gloves wool liner gloves Outdoor Research Omni Gloves 1.5 oz (43 g)
rain mitts waterproof-breathable shell mitts Mountain Laurel Designs eVENT Rain Mitts 1.0 oz (28 g)

Sleep System

overhead shelter solo tarp shelter Mountain Laurel Designs Silnylon Solomid 13.0 oz (369 g)
tent stakes titanium skewer style Gossamer Gear Tite-Lite (8) 1.6 oz (45 g)
ground cloth pallet shrink wrapping or similar ultralight/ultratough material Gossamer Gear Polycro 1.6 oz (45 g)
sleeping bag variable girth down bag Katabatic Gear Palisade Down Quilt 17.5 oz (496 g)
sleeping pad torso sized closed cell foam or inflatable pad Gossamer Gear Nightlight Torso 3.5 oz (99 g)


backpack lightweight internal frame pack Hyperlight Mountain Gear Windrider 25.6 oz (726 g)
stuff sacks Three (3) for insulating clothing, sleeping bag, storm clothing Hyperlite Mountain Gear Cuben Fiber L & XL Stuff Sacks 1.1 oz (31 g)

Cooking and Water

stove & cookpot integrated canister cookset Jetboil SOL Ti 8.5 oz (241 g)
fuel container canister, small size Jetboil 100g fuel canister (empty) 3.5 oz (99 g)
utensil spork Light My Fire Titanium Spork 0.6 oz (17 g)
water bottles 1L soft side bladders Platypus 1L (two) 1.8 oz (51 g)
water treatment chlorine dioxide Aqua Mira Kit 1.1 oz (31 g)
food storage bear bag Zpacks "Blast" Food Bag, 12.5 x 20.5 O.P. Sak, 6" x 6" stuff sack for "rock", and 50 ft 2.5 mm Spectra Rope 3.0 oz (85 g)

Other Essentials

maps custom printed on waterproof paper National Geographic Topo! 2.0 oz (57 g)
light LED headlamp Petzl e-Lite 1.0 oz (28 g)
first aid minor wound care & meds assorted wound & blister care and medicines 2.0 oz (57 g)
firestarting emergency firestarting - waterproof Light My Fire Firesteel Mini + Four Seasons Survival Tinder-Quik Tabs in 4"x5" Aloksak 1.0 oz (28 g)
sunglasses 100% UV blocking, plastic lenses/frames any old pair will do 1.0 oz (28 g)
sunscreen 100% UV blocking, waterproof, paste SPF 30+ in tiny tubes 1.0 oz (28 g)
insect repellent 100% DEET repackaged in tiny dropper bottle 0.5 oz (14 g)
personal hygiene assorted toiletries toothbrush, soap, toilet paper, alcohol hand gel, in 4" x 7" Aloksak 2.0 oz (47 g)


fuel canister, small size Jetboil, 100g 3.5 oz (100 g)
food 2.5 days 22 oz / day 55.0 oz (1559 g)
water average carried half quart 16.0 oz (454 g)

Weight Summary

(1) Total Weight Worn or Carried 3.14 lb (1.42 kg)
(2) Total Base Weight in Pack 7.83 lb (3.55 kg)
(3) Total Weight of Consumables 4.66 lb (2.11 kg)
(4) Total Initial Pack Weight (2) + (3) 12.49 lb (5.66 kg)
(5) Full Skin Out Weight (1) + (2) + (3) 15.63 lb (7.08 kg)


"Backpacking Checklist (Gear List): 3-Season, 3-Day," by Ryan Jordan. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2011-10-11 03:00:00-06.


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Backpacking Checklist (Gear List): 3-Season, 3-Day
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Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Backpacking Checklist (Gear List): 3-Season, 3-Day on 10/14/2011 14:10:23 MDT Print View

I don't use a stuff sack for my sleeping bag, either, but I use a dry bag. The alternative is a waterproof pack liner. The two (pack liner vs. lightweight dry bags for sleeping bag and another for insulating clothing) weigh about the same. I believe that Ryan's pack (HMG Windrider) is waterproof? If so, he shouldn't need anything.

I agree about the sleep socks. I get cold easily, so I use Goose Feet. Ryan evidently doesn't even take a second pair of hiking socks! Either he wears wet socks in his sleeping bag (hard on the loft) or he has awfully warm feet!

My cook kit (Primus Micron Ti stove, 550 ml Ti pot, Ti foil windscreen) weighs half as much as Ryan's Jetboil. With the windscreen (used with great caution, of course), I'm sure mine is just as fuel-efficient, maybe more so in cold weather because with the full length windscreen the canister doesn't get cold when in use.

Sporks tend to put holes in plastic bags when stirring; I use a long-handled Lexan spoon.

These are all individual preferences, though--YMMV, HYOH and all that. Some folks want a pack so light that they can't even feel it on their backs (they're over in the SUL forum). Others (like me) want everything else really light so we can take a few luxury (or, in my case, essential) items (thicker sleeping pad, warmer sleeping bag, etc.), or heavy photographic equipment, or fishing gear, or a six-pack of beer, or be able to go out for 10 days without resupply, while still having a lightweight pack that is easy to carry. (That's why I pay attention to what's in the SUL forum.)

Edited by hikinggranny on 10/14/2011 14:12:30 MDT.

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: Backpacking Checklist (Gear List): 3-Season, 3-Day on 10/16/2011 16:16:02 MDT Print View

Thank you for sharing YOUR list.

I agree that many of us would add something or change something. But I like seeing what others carry. Always refreshing and I learn or reinforce why I do what I do.


Monty Montana
(TarasBulba) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Backpacking Checklist (Gear List): 3-Season, 3-Day on 10/17/2011 21:45:43 MDT Print View

It's interesting to see how the gear has evolved over the years! My original list included a 4 oz. Gossamer Gear Whisper pack, Montbell Thermal sheet sleeping bag, GG Nightlight, and an alcohol or esbit stove...a perfect SUL kit. Now I have expanded my repetoire to include a Goloite Peak pack (~20 oz.), Montbell Super Stretch bag, Neo matress, and Jetboil Ti Sol. This gives me the latitude to head out SUL or light and comfortable. During winter I move up the weight scale some and pack it all in an Osprey Exos 58 to handle the extra bulk and weight.

Steven Davis

Locale: SF Bay Area
ditch the hat on 03/28/2013 23:38:52 MDT Print View

i would replace the hat with a buff. more versatile and lighter weight.

d k
(dkramalc) - MLife
Re: ditch the hat on 03/29/2013 00:19:22 MDT Print View

Somebody skipped the "skin cancer" thread...or are you talking about replacing the balaclava?

Edited by dkramalc on 03/29/2013 00:24:45 MDT.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: ditch the hat on 03/29/2013 02:14:36 MDT Print View

A hat shields your eyes and face from the sun. A buff doesn't really do anything to protect you from the sun.

If you are talking about replacing a warm hat with a buff, sure it's going to be lighter but it won't be very warm at all. A warm hat is worth the weight.