Most of the gear women need for backpacking is exactly the same as for men. However, there are a few women-specific backpacking items you might need (and won’t find on most backpacking checklists). Here’s what they are, plus everything else ladies need to go backcountry backpacking.
You can get a downloadable & printable version of the checklist here.
Women-Specific Backpacking Items
Instead of burying or packing out TP, consider using a pee rag. Just use a rag (like a bandana) to wipe after peeing. Then tie it to the outside of your pack to dry as you hike. There are even some pee clothes specifically for backpacking that you can buy, like the P Cloth shown below (and available here).
Hair brush/comb/hair ties/headband:
I have short hair but it still gets sweaty and tangled while backpacking. Thus I always bring a comb and headband.
These are great for discretely peeing off the trail without having to pull your entire pants down. There are tons of these available now. The one shown below is called “The Tinkle Belle.”
I use the Diva cup. If you use tampons or pads, you’ll need to pack them out. Here’s how to deal with your period while backpacking.
I personally feel a bit uncomfortable swimming in my underwear so I always bring a bathing suit or at least an extra sports bra that I can wear as a bathing suit.
A good sports bra can keep you comfortable and dry. Seriously, under-boob sweat is no fun. 🙂
Women’s packs have shorter torso lengths, are narrower, and have a difference hip belt design. See picks for best women’s backpacks here.
There’s conflicting info as to whether bloody tampons or pads will attract wild animals. To play it safe, put used pads or tampons in odor-proof bags when packing them out (never bury them!). The LOKSAK odor-proof bags are most popular with backpackers. You can get them here on REI or here on Amazon.
Key Backpacking Gear
- Waterproof pack cover
- Sleeping bag: See women’s sleeping bags at REI
- Sleeping pad
- Bear bag/canister
- Extra batteries
- GPS and/or map
- Knife and/or multitool
- Water purifier
- Water bladder and/or bottle
- Fire starting kit (lighter, waterproof matches, tinder)
- Bear spray
- Trekking poles
- Trash bags/sacks
- Potty trowel/shovel
- First aid kit: Here’s a checklist of what I keep in mine
- Toothpaste and brush
- Biodegradable soap
- Sun block and lip balm
- Bug spray
- Toilet paper
- Baby wipes: Optional, but really nice for giving yourself a wipe-down “bath”
- Towel or handkerchief
- Base layer top and bottoms: See my picks for the best women’s base layers
- Mid layer top: Fleece, wool or puffy
- Hiking pants/shorts
- Shell layer (soft-shell jacket or rain jacket)
- Rain pants (or insulated shell pants if very cold): See my picks for the best women’s rain pants
- Liner socks + insulating socks
- Camp sandals
- Hat with a brim
- Buff/hat and gloves (if cold)
- Camp stove: I also use this DIY windscreen with mine
- Bowl (or eat from the pot)
- Cleaning sponge
- Meals: Here are some easy backpacking meal ideas
- Salt, sugar, seasonings, oil
- Coffee, tea, powdered milk, and/or drinks
- Notebook and pencils
- Field guides
- Personal location device
- Solar charger
- Glasses case
- Chair/foam pad seat
Is there anything for women I missed on this backpacking checklist? Let me know in the comments.