Backpacking in the Pacific Northwest: Prep and Gear Packing List

Backpacking in the Pacific Northwest: Prep and Gear Packing List

I’ve been lucky enough to call the Pacific Northwest my home for almost a decade now, and the beauty of this place still takes my breath away every time I venture out to the woods to enjoy nature.

One item that had been sitting on my bucket list for years was to tackle a tough backpacking trip, one that was both challenging and rewarding. One of my closest friends, Julianne (who took half of these photos), is heading off to graduate school and had the same pre-move goal. And thus our plan was born!

Step 1: Location, Location, Location

You might be thinking to yourself that “some long backpacking trip in Oregon” is a rather vague bucket list item and you would be correct! Given how busy the two of us were, we had to nail down a date and general distance desired first and work on a location from there. The middle of June is usually gorgeous weather in Portland, but many long hikes have enough of an elevation gain to create some real problems with snow this early in the year.

I place a ton of faith in good, old-fashioned Google and it did not disappoint! It turns out that “Oregon Spring backpacking” was pretty useful in leading me to a great list of trails on my favorite hiking website. From there we chose a starting point and a destination and then J popped over to Scribble Maps where you can create a trail map for free. It even helped us figure out that we could do a loop instead of an out-and-back style hike.

Backpacking in the Pacific Northwest: Prep and Gear Packing List

Step 2: Safety First

Do your homework as much as you can! One thing we did was actually look up our hike as a hashtag on Instagram. It was incredibly helpful to see that people had successfully done the hikes we planned to do already this season. I’ll go into a bit more detail in another post about encountering snow still, but we were glad we checked because this past winter was particularly brutal.

J made a big Google Doc with all of our trail maps, camping spots, driving directions and even the phone numbers of our emergency contacts. Since it was on Google Drive, we easily shared it with our parents and my fiancé, then printed out two sets (one for us and one to leave in the car).

Step 3: The Packing List

A thorough packing list will save your butt, my friends. There are a million of them online, but here is the version we found most useful for our 3-day trip. None of these are affiliate links, I just wanted to provide as specific a list as possible.

Per person:

  • Map (full area map & the printout)
  • Backpacking pack
  • Day/summit pack (doubles as a pillowcase when you shove a coat in it!)
  • Sleeping bag with a tough compression sack
  • Trekking pole (these were inexpensive and perfect)
  • Sleeping pad
  • Lip balm
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • 2 water bottles
  • Long athletic pants
  • Athletic tank
  • Sports bra
  • Light jacket or long sleeve shirt
  • Rain jacket
  • One extra jacket or sweatshirt (we both had this and didn’t regret it, it gets cold at night at higher elevations)
  • 5x underwear & socks
  • Your most comfortable shoes
  • Toiletries and medication
  • Phone & portable charger/cable

Backpacking in the Pacific Northwest: Prep and Gear Packing List
My half of the pre-packed items


  • Compass (this being first on the list will be funny in a future post on this trip)
  • First aid kit
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Head lamp
  • Tent light
  • Waterproof matches and a lighter
  • Knife
  • Folding saw
  • Water filtration system (with tablets as a backup)
  • Big water canteen (like this one)
  • Tent with poles, stakes and tarp
  • Stove (we love this style with this little folding grill)
  • Fuel
  • Cook/mess set (this, this and this are pretty close to what we have)
  • Biodegradable soap like Dr Bronners
  • Rope & dry bag to string up food overnight
  • Zip & trash bags
  • Toilet paper, hand sanitizer & a shovel (like this one)
  • Antibacterial & regular wipes
  • Car/house keys, driver’s license, a bit of cash for trail fees & a credit card

Backpacking in the Pacific Northwest: Prep and Gear Packing List
Somehow it all fit, final weight of 41 pounds!


  • Breakfasts were quick cook oatmeal with dehydrated apples/strawberries & hot cocoa/coffee
  • Lunches were either veggie/jerky or peanut butter/banana wraps
  • Dinner the first day was ramen with dehydrated veggies & jerky
  • Dinner the second day was tortellini with sundried tomatoes & basil
  • Snacks were trail mix, Clif bars, apples, fruit leather & more peanut butter wraps
  • S’mores every night, of course

Backpacking in the Pacific Northwest: Prep and Gear Packing List
The perfect way to end each day

Stick around for my next post or two on the trip itself!


0 thoughts on “Backpacking in the Pacific Northwest: Prep and Gear Packing List”

    1. Nothing tastes as good as camping food, haha. It was the best thing we packed at the end of the day. 🙂

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