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The 10 Best Pieces of Backpacking Gear, From Sturdy Tents to Cozy Sleeping Bags

Happy trails are up ahead with these lightweight, heavy-duty essentials.

best backpacking gear

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Whether hiking the Pacific Crest Trail or waking up to utter silence and taking in the clear views of Norway’s teal lakes and glaciers, there are few activities that provide the stillness and the sense of peace better than a backpacking journey. You can completely disconnect and step away from the day-to-day, immersing yourself in the natural environment in a way far deeper than a week or two at a resort. Turn your phone off and set off on a true adventure. 

The key to any successful journey in the great outdoors, of course, is having the right gear. From the lightest possible carryall with the capacity to withstand the elements to a down sleeping bag suited for the coldest nights, high-quality backpacking equipment makes a world of difference on the trail. No one wants to wake up damp from rain and covered in mosquito bites or risk injury on rough terrain.

Whether you’re planning your first trek or need to update your existing kit, rest assured that you don’t have to search far and wide. The world of backpacking gear is crowded and full of seemingly endless options. And to help you on your journey, we’ve rounded up a selection of essentials, each evaluated for technical innovation, precision, durability, and all the qualities that matter most in the wild. 

Below, find our top picks for the best backpacking gear, from jackets and hiking boots to trekking poles and beyond. 

Best Bag for Backpacking

Arc’Teryx Bora 65 Backpack

When it comes to backpacking across any terrain, the one piece of gear you need, the one that pretty much gives the activity its name is, of course, the backpack. This means not any backpack is going to cut it. You need something incredibly durable, incredibly lightweight, and incredibly, well, stylish. Checking all these boxes is Arc’Teryx’s Bora 65. Some highlights: the GridLock harness for the perfect fit, the high-tenacity Cordura material for weather-resistance, the RotoGlide belt for balance, and all the pockets and compartments for organization. 

Buy Now on Arc’Teryx: $320

Best Tent for Backpacking

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Tent

Spending two to three days—or more—in the great outdoors requires you to bring shelter. And the ideal tent for backpacking adventures is Copper Spur’s HV UL2 Tent (go for the UL3 for pairs). It features vestibules that protect against rain and sun alike. It is also ultralightweight, which will give you comfort on long-distance hikes. What’s more, the color-coded setup makes it easy to pitch. And if all that isn’t enough, this tent is freestanding and equipped with overhangs to store extras. 

Buy Now on Rei: $550

Best Jacket for Backpacking

Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Jacket

Before it became the preferred label for puffer vests beloved by finance bros, Patagonia made its name for offering the sleekest, most heavy-duty styles for perilous scenarios. It really doesn’t skimp on quality or design, making sure that its pieces can withstand a good beating. Prime example: this jacket, which features a shell made of three-layer H2No technology and PFC-free DWR finish. This means its light, breathable, waterproof, and hard-wearing—all the factors you need for backpacking.

Buy Now on Patagonia: $179

Best Backpacking Sleeping Pad

Therm-a-Rest Ultralight Camping and Backpacking Sleeping Pad

If you are hiking and camping for more than a weekend, comfort becomes that much more crucial. This lightweight, water-resistant sleeping pad will keep you completely off the ground and, most importantly, preserve heat. Its insulation rating is incredibly high, meaning it will keep you warm on the coldest of nights. Other features include a fast-inflating valve and reflective ThermaCapture technology to trap heat.

Buy Now on Amazon: $172

Best Boots for Backpacking

Salomon Quest 4 GTX High-Rise Hiking Boots

A comfortable, durable, and high-performing boot is crucial to any backpacking trip. Topping our list over the many, many options available is Salomon’s Quest 4 GTX, which offers extensive ankle support and Contragrip TD outsoles for a firm grip that’s perfect for slippery, jagged terrains. 

Buy Now on Salomon: $230

Best Stove for Backpacking

Soto Windmaster Stove with 4 Flex Pot Support

Ultra lightweight with reliable performance in stormy and cold weather, the Soto Windmaster is a highly practical choice. The pot sits close to the flame, making it more efficient in windy weather. Moreover, two cups of water come to a boil in under 2.5 minutes—ideal for extra chilly nights. 

Buy Now on Rei: $65

Best Sleeping Bag for Backpacking

Nemo Disco 30 Sleeping Bag

With an ISO lower limit at 31 degrees and a spoon shape that allows you to shift in the night and sleep on your side, the Nemo Disco 30 sleeping bag is about as comfortable and functional as it gets. The silhouette gives additional room near the elbows and knees—a real game changer. It is made of responsible down with a waterproof shell built to prevent internal condensation and slits that can be opened to cool down. 

Buy Now on Backcountry: $280

Best Poles for Backpacking

Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ Trekking Poles

Ultralight and retractable, the Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ poles are uniquely versatile, great for both extended rugged pursuits as well as day hikes. This pole has a three-section foldable shaft and is made of 100 percent carbon, making it ideal for mountain runners, alpine climbers, and, of course, backpackers. 

Buy Now on Backcountry: $210

Best Ultralight Bag for Backpacking

Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest Pack

Super lightweight with well engineered storage and a minimalist design, this backpack will fit all your essentials. It’s comfortable and durable—safe to carry microspikes, crampons, and other sharp gear while withstanding rocks and roots—with expansive external side pockets. Overall, it really delivers on weight and material. 

Buy Now on Backcountry: $349

Best Lightweight Sleeping Bag for Backpacking

Rei Co-op Magma 30 Sleeping Bag

Rei offers an incredibly lightweight sleeping bag—especially for something that’s incredibly warm, featuring 850-fill-power goose down with a 15-denier lining. Its also water-resistant and super soft, and has a sizable hood that provides ample room for a pillow. 

Buy Now on Rei: $349

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