Backpacking Supply List

Creation Safari Activity Planner

Bwana’s Guide:
Teacher’s Resource:


General Instructions

Packing for the trail requires careful planning.  Once you leave the car, you’re on your own.  Strive to achieve a balance between bringing essential items and keeping your pack as light as possible.  Do not skimp on food, adequate clothing, and protection from the elements, but choose items that weigh as little as possible.  Only bring what is necessary: for instance, a small tube of toothpaste, not a large one; you’ll feel every ounce on the trail.  Share what you can, to distribute the load.  You can get double-duty out of some items: for instance, you can put your extra clothes in a pillowcase and use it for a pillow, or your sleeping bag stuff sack can be used for bear-bagging, or a Gore-Tex hat can carry a half-gallon of water.

Pack appropriate for the season, the number of days on the trail, the elevation gain, the terrain and your own fitness level.  Bring options and luxuries only according to your willingness to carry them.  Aim to be fully packed two or three days before the trip, to give yourself time for last minute ideas.  Use this list to check and double-check your pack.  Practice carrying your pack for a half mile the day before the trip, to learn what you can do without.  If unsure about some items, bring them anyway and ask the leader before the hike begins; you can always leave them in the car if unnecessary – better that than getting to the trailhead and deciding you need something you left at home.

You do not need everything on this list!  We have intentionally tried to cover all the bases for a variety of trips, but backpacking can and should be an economical form of recreation – a return to nature and a simpler way of life.  You do not need to spend a lot of money on gear, unless you wish to and are willing to carry it.  John Muir went for weeks in the Sierras with little more than a sack of biscuits over his shoulder, and successful backpacking predates the expensive name-brands like Jansport, Patagonia, and Gore-Tex.  Experienced backpackers and strong hikers may wish to bring more options and luxuries; make sure your pack fits YOU.  If in doubt, ask the bwana or another experienced backpacker.

Hiking and Camping Supplies


Food Suggestions

Important: plan EVERY meal on the trail, and then some.  Choose food that will not spoil, melt, or crumble.  Some soft items can be stored in firm plastic containers with tight-fitting lids.  Remember you will have to pack out all metals, including aluminum foil, but you can burn paper and some plastics.  Bring a gallon-size Ziplock bag to pack out non-burnable trash.

Items to bring but leave in the car

Tip:  Wear comfortable clothes in the car; you can change into your backpacking clothes when you arrive at the trailhead.

Items NOT to bring

Recommendations for Freeze-Dried Meals

Freeze-dried dinners are expensive ($5-$8 each) but lightweight.  They provide the best variety, and many are quite delicious and easy to prepare (just add boiling water and wait 10 minutes).  Some, however, are putrid.  Here is the Creation Safaris grade chart.  Note: most packages say “serves two” but will usually be just enough for one 160-lb man; plan accordingly so you don’t starve.  Mountain House has a clean method of putting a plastic package inside the foil, so that you don’t have to pack out a grimy aluminum package.

Grades:  A=delicious  B=not bad  C=so-so  D=barely edible  F=nauseating
Brands:  MH=Mountain House   BP=Backpacker’s Pantry   RM=RichMoor   NH=NaturalHigh  AA=Alpine Aire