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Favorite pieces of Backpacking Gear

What is your absolute best top 5 pieces of gear you swear by for backpacking?!

Labels (4)
31 Replies

1. Backpack

2. Sleeping bag/pad

3. Stove/cooking-pot/lighter

4. Tent

5. Rain Jacket


But in all seriousness, I think people tend to overthink backpacking. I try to keep it simple and light (my husband might disagree) because I carry a 7.5 pound camera with me while backpacking. I generally backpack in the mountains, so you won't find me out there without my rainjacket even if there isn't rain in the forecast. It acts as a windbreaker and insulator when it gets cold and/or windy on peaks.


Agreed. I am in Southern California but my rain jacket never leaves my backpack. 

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

My top 5, hmmm, hard to pare it down. Everyone has their essential gear but here are some items that are items I prefer to have in no particular order:

  • Sleep system: Nemo Tango Duo with Thermarests Down Coupler (so much better than a sleeping bag)
  • Water shoes: Salomon Techamphib
  • Camp chair: REI  (yes I carry one backpacking. It makes sitting around so much more comfortable, so worth the 1 pound weight)
  • Gravity water filter: MSR
  • Tent: Nemo Losi 3P (older model that has 53 sq ft.)

We aren't "superlight" backpackers as we like our comforts but they aren't super heavy either.


1. my chair.  Huge relief for my back after a long day of walking, I'm old.

2. My super comfortable hoka one-one trail runners, with extra padded inserts. What a delight to be walking on clouds!

3. My super lightweight and spacious tent.

4. My great sleeping pad

5. A seasonal appropriate quilt! So nice to be able to sleep and roll over with no entanglements.

REI Member Since 1979

All my gear...I think I had a good setup for me last year. It's a mix of old and new.   But that is not very interesting.  New things I was pleased with in no particular order...

1. Zpacks multi-pack which I attached across the front of my pack and use for all the things I needed or might during the day and also as a small day pack. My back pack is older and has small hip belt pockets plus the multi-pack is much more then they could ever be.  It is slightly annoying to have one more thing to deal with when taking off the pack but its utility more than made up for that for me.

2. Darn tough wools socks.  Previous I had used REI merino socks and the Darn Toughs are just so much nicer

3. Big Agnes TW UL2 tent used for solo carry and by a couple I lent it to.  All thoroughly enjoyed using it.  Had some weather but not a lot so this is a limited recommendation.  I did use the foot print, modify the fixed guylines with adjustable line locs and mix in a variety of stakes to fill out the stock 8 to 12 and provide more options.  This replaced an original Copper Spur UL2.

4. CNOC Vectra and Sawyer Squeeze filter set up for gravity feed and used with SMART water bottles. This replaced a Katadyn Hiker pump and a hydration bladder.

5. Not pleased I need them but... Thin Optics reading glasses in the universal pod that sticks the back of my phone allowing me to actually read it. I also carried a pair of reading glasses packed away but I used the TO's all the time since they were always handy.

Also worth mentioning...

I upgraded my phone to a Google Pixel 3A which I used as my camera and navigation device.  (I carried maps and a compass too)  It has a excellent camera considering the price of the phone.  I needed a new phone and a new camera and this served both needs. I liked that it had a plastic rather than glass back and a headphone jack. The only negative is that it is not waterproof so I had to be extra careful with it at water crossings.  We also had a Gamin InReach mini in our party which is a nice tool to have along to keep relatives informed as to progress and summon help if things go pear shaped.


Thanks for the tip about ThinOptics. I'm thinking of getting a pair to keep in my pack for map-reading.  (Does anyone know of any glacier goggles with bifocals?)  😄

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

There are "bifocal" safety glasses both clear and dark for outside use.  I considered those but having tried them I don't recommend bifocals for hiking because the lower part of your peripheral vision is blurred for the trail and it increases the chance you will trip.    The Thin Optics stuck to the back of the phone solution works much better.  They make a key chain version too but I find that less convenient. 

I do use the clear "bifocal" safety glasses when in the shop since it is works well in that situation where otherwise I need to wear the reading glasses under the safety glasses and constantly switch.

@OldGuyot I have the Zpacks Arc Blast....but have never seen or heard of the Multipack.  What is it?

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.