By Michael Lanza

Sure, your backpack, boots, tent, sleeping bag, air mattress, and other backpacking gear matter a lot, and you should put serious thought into your choices when buying any of them. But little things matter, too. Various necessary accessories, convenience items, and small comforts accompany me on backcountry trips. A quarter-century of field-testing gear—as the lead gear reviewer for Backpacker magazine for 10 years and many years for this blog—has refined my sense of what I like on certain types of trips and what I will not do without anytime.

Here’s my freshly updated list of essential backpacking accessories, ranging from basics like the best stuff sacks, bladders and water bottles, camp kitchen gear, water filters, tent stakes, and bear canister, to great values in a headlamp, camp stove, and knife, and what I sit on in camp and lay my head down on every night I sleep on the ground.

I’ve tested this gear extensively on numerous backpacking trips from the Teton Crest Trail, Yosemite, and the Wind River Range to the Sawtooths, the Grand Canyon, Glacier, and numerous other places.


Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. Click here for my e-guides to classic backpacking trips. Click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

I don’t carry everything on this list on every trip, of course. Some, like a bear canister, I bring only when
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