Hiking Gear Lists: Two Ways to Make Them (+ a Free Download)

What is a hiking gear list?

Simple enough, a hiking gear list where you list ALL of the stuff you need for your adventure. Some people are satisfied with a checklist, which is often enough for day-hikes or overnight trips. However, when you are planning a trip with multi-day hikes and overnights, you might like the list to be a bit more detailed.

I like to use data when making my gear lists. I want to know how much each individual item weight to make sure that my metrics: base weight, worn weight and skin-out weight are exactly as I would like. These metrics are important to any hiker but are fundamental considerations for the ultralight hiker.

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Why should you make hiking gear lists?

  • To remember all the stuff you need
  • To learn the weight of all the stuff you need
  • To evaluate and re-evaluate your pack
  • To get an overview of what is in your backpack and what could be removed/swapped for an alternative
  • Because it is mad fun (mostly)

I am not the most organized person in my everyday life, but when it comes to hiking and backpacking, I channel my inner strategist. I like to break lists up into categories, which you will also learn if you have downloaded my free hiking gear list template. That is also why you will find a lot of stuff/dry sacks on the list. Some people deem this unnecessary, but it works for me. I'm a visual person and I like to know that my green dry sacks mean my sleeping bag is in there, my red stuff sacks means my journal and personal stuff is in there, etc.

Method #1: Excel

Microsoft Excel is excellent for creating hiking gear lists. It is very versatile tools that allow you to design your lists the way you want to.

The benefits: fully customizable, great comments / links / alternative models / price tagging

The downsides: Excel is not for everybody, takes time to create spreadsheet, lack of icons

Why I use this method: to plan for future purchases. Excel offers great options for putting in a lot of links to different products that I am considering. This way, I can keep track of everything with a nice overview.

If Excel makes you want to run for the hills, fear not...
I'd like to share my 3-season hiking spreadsheet and you can download it here.

The picture above is an example of one of my customized lists (in Danish).

The Excel spreadsheet is shared via Dropbox and here is a guide on how to download:

Praise my Paint skills. Please.

Method #2: LighterPack

While Excel is the more traditional approach, LighterPack is the new black! A super neat and intuitive tool that makes gear list crafting easier than ever.

The benefits: easy to use, automatized, amazing diagram, has icons for consumables / food / worn clothes, option for photos and hyperlinks

The downsides: not many - you can work around most obstacles with a little creativity (like creating 0.00 kg/oz item slots for alternative models) - it would be nice to have the option to write the price of the item 

Why I use this method: I generally update my LigherPack when I buy new gear I chose to include in my setup. Also, I find LighterPack more shareable than an Excel. If I want to show my backpack to friends, I simply click the 'Share Your Pack' option. Also, that diagram is just too damn sexy.

Even though my base weight is not nearly where I'd like it to be, I kindly invite you to take a look at behind the scenes.
Click here to check my LighterPack.

Key take-aways from this post

  • Excel, the traditional, versatile tool is great for planning for future purchases.
  • LighterPack, the modern, smart tool is great for updating the current gear list.
  • Always remember - when it comes to packing for the trial and being on the trail; do whatever works for you.


In need of a great backpacking checklist?

Mark from CampSmartly has written an article with The 30+1 Things You Must Have On Your Backpacking Checklist

Go check it out. 🙂

Want more gear talk like this?

Read WildStray's other articles on gear talk:

  1. Ultralight Hiking: Benefits and Concerns of Going Ultralight

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Happy gear hunting! WildStray / Mikkel