Trail Checklist

Don't Forget Your Toothbrush

There’s nothing worse on any backpacking trip than to get into camp after a long day and realize that you forgot your stove fuel. Or experience a surprise thunderstorm and realize that you left your rain jacket at home. The following checklist is designed to help you remember all of your backpacking essentials—and a few extras—to help ensure that you have everything you need to have a safe and successful hike on the PCT and beyond.

Ten Essentials

Every hiker should carry the Ten Essentials. These items can come in handy if you find yourself lost, in an unexpected storm, have a gear malfunction or get injured. For more info about the Ten Essentials, CLICK HERE.

Navigation: map and compass; GPS
Sun Protection: shades, sunscreen, hat
Insulation: jacket, pants, gloves, hat
Illumination: headlamp/flashlight
First-aid: first-aid kit, medications

Fire: waterproof matches/lighter
Repair: knife/multitool; patch kits/duct tape
Nutrition: extra food, snacks
Hydration: water filter/treatment; bottles
Emergency: shelter/tarp; space blanket

The Basics

Your base pack kit should include these standard items, which should be able to stand up to a variety of weather and temperature extremes. Consider snow travel gear if hiking in the early season.

Backpack w/ rain cover
Tent w/ fly, footprint; or tarp/bivy sack
Sleeping bag/blanket
Sleeping pad/pillow
Portable stove/cookset

Cooking/eating utensils
Stove fuel
Trekking poles
Ice axe (optional)

Clothing & Footwear

Plan to use the layering system. This lets you remove layers when you warm up and add layers when you get cold. Be prepared for a variety of weather and temperature extremes.

Wicking underwear
Thermal underwear
Wicking baselayer shirt
Lightweight pants/shorts
Insulating midlayer (e.g. fleece)
Insulating jacket (e.g. puffy)
Rain gear (jacket & pants)

Beanie, gloves/mittens
Wicking socks/sock liners
Hiking boots/shoes
Gaiters (optional)
Camp shoes/sandals (optional)

Personal Hygiene

Good personal hygiene on trail can help you avoid getting sick and/or infections, as well as not be offensive to fellow hikers or patrons at resorts you may visit.

Hand sanitizer
Biodegradable soap
Deodorant (optional?)
Pack towel

Insect repellent
Portable trowel
Toilet tissue (w/ zip-top bag)
Bear repellent (optional)

Food & Storage

Carry enough food to supply your daily calorie need to keep your energy up and avoid bonking. Reduce food weight by sending resupply packages. Don’t rely on other hikers or hiker boxes to keep you fed.

Breakfast meals
Lunch meals
Dinner meals

Energy snacks/drinks
Food bag/canister
50’ cord (for hanging food)
Extra zip-top bags
Flask (optional)

Luxury Items & Electronics (optional)

You don’t need to deprive yourself of all creature comforts while you’re out on the trail. You may need while away some evening hours or wait out a rainstorm. 

Daypack/summit pack
Camp chair
Journal w/ pen
Reading book
Game, e.g. cards, soduko

Camera (w/ extra memory cards)
Tent lamp/lantern
Extra batteries
Battery pack/solar charger

Personal Items

In case of emergency or an unplanned incident, you want people to know who you are, and be able to pay for any needed services.

Cash/credit card

Emergency contact info (ICE card)
Itinerary w/ friend/family member
SPOT Messenger/PLB


Many trailheads in Oregon require vehicles to display a Northwest Forest Pass. Some wilderness areas in Oregon and all national parks require backcountry camping permits. The PCT thru-hiker permit is only required for hikers traveling more than 500 miles. For more information on permits, CLICK HERE.

Northwest Forest Pass
Wilderness/camping permit
PCT thru-hiker permit

PLEASE NOTE: This is a general checklist of gear and supplies that every hiker should carry on all backcountry adventures. This list is not specific to the PCT and can be modified as needed. Remember, you are responsible for your own safety.

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