Packing List

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There are two main sections here, Personal Gear and Group Gear. You’re responsible for personal gear, group gear will be organized at a later date and be used by everyone (no need to go out and get anything on that list). Some of the bigger items from the personal gear section can be rented from the Caltech Y for a small fee. There items have (*) next to them.

This packing list is from “The Backpackers Field Manual” by Rick Curtis with some comments by me (Mary). I use it every time I go backpacking. If you have specific questions please contact me.

Don’t forget that in addition to your personal gear you’ll need to carry a bear can (12” tall, 9” in diameter) filled with food plus some of the group gear, so leave room!

Personal Gear


  • Winter hat (seriously, it can get cold at night)
  • Brimmed hat for sun protection

Upper Body Layers

  • 2 t-shirts (best if they have geeky slogans on them or webpage URLs, especially if you’re Richard)
  • Light to Mid-weight long sleeve shirt (long underwear is best)
  • Fleece jacket or wool sweater
  • Wind jacket, nylon (can be the same as rain jacket if waterproof, must fit over insulating layers)

Lower Body

  • Underwear as needed
  • 1 or 2 pairs of lightweight shorts (preferably not cotton)
  • Synthetic long underwear bottoms
  • Lightweight fleece or synthetic warm up pants


  • 1 pair hiking boots. They should cover your ankle with sturdy rubber soles.
  • 1 pair sneakers or sandals for wearing around campsite
  • 2 to 3 pairs of light synthetic or polypropylene liner socks
  • 2 to 3 pairs of medium weight wool or synthetic hiking socks

Shell Layer

  • Waterproof rain jacket
  • Waterproof rain pants

Travel Gear

  • (*) External or internal frame pack with padded hip belt and shoulder straps
  • Pack cover (optional, see trash bag note below)


  • (*) Sleeping bag (should be at least rated to 30 deg F)
  • (*) Sleeping bag stuff sack
  • (*) Foam sleeping pad (provides insulation from the ground to keep you warmer, makes sleeping slightly more comfortable)
  • (*) Straps or rope to attach bag and pad to the frame pack


  • 2 or 3 1 quart water bottles
  • 1 unbreakable cup with handle
  • 1 unbreakable bowl (can use Tupperware)
  • 1 spoon
  • 1 fork (optional)
  • 1 pocket knife (optional)
  • bandana (multipurpose)
  • 1 small flashlight or headlamp with new batteries
  • 1 toilet kit with just the essentials: toothbrush, toothpaste (small), sunscreen, lip balm, bug stuff
  • 3 heavy plastic garbage bags (multipurpose: rain cover for pack, to waterproof inside of sleeping bag stuff sack)
  • 1 pair sunglasses
  • Any medications you need
  • Camera (optional)
  • Small first aid kit (we’ll be bringing a bigger one, but you can bring your own stuff for blisters, some Advil, etc.)

(*) Can rent from Caltech Y

Group Gear

  • Tents: Sawyer (3 man backpacking tent), Lars (2 man backpacking tent)
  • Tarps: Richard (with room to sleep 5 or 6)
  • Tarp Line and small ropes: Mary, Richard
  • 3 Stoves: Richard (dragonfly), Mary (dragonfly), Dave (whisperlite)
  • Fuel bottles and fuel: Richard (2), Mary (2), Dave (1), Sawyer (1) (6 bottles total, each bottle 22 oz. -- the medium MSR bottle size)
  • Pots: Sawyer (2L pot), Mary (cook kit that includes 3L pot)
  • Mixing spoon: Mary, Sawyer
  • Frying pan + spatula: Richard
  • Pot grippers: Mary, Sawyer
  • Coffee Pot, Coffee, Filters: Richard
  • Water filters: Lars, Richard
  • Toilet paper: Dave, Mary
  • Trowel: Dave, Mary
  • Compass: we'll have a couple, you can bring your own if you want
  • Maps: at least Mary, Dave, probably Richard, too
  • Bear cans: Richard (1), Mary (9)
  • Collapsible water jug: Mary
  • First aid kit: Mary
  • General repair kit (sewing kit, duct tape, stove repair kit, etc): Mary