Fall Backpacking Gear List

Packs lined up on the Mohican Backpacking Trek ready for the hike.

Remember – a packing list is weather dependent. Please pay attention to rain in the forecast and adjust accordingly. Here’s what to bring for seasonable October weather:


This is all of the clothing both worn to camp and packed in the backpack. Pack clothing in zip-lock or plastic bags to keep dry. It is also a good idea to line the inside compartment of your backpack with a trash bag.

  • Warm hat for sleeping, night-time and mornings.
  • Warm gloves.
  • 2 pairs of pants (pants with zip-off (convertible) legs are best if mild weather is in the forecast; do not pack denim or cotton pants).
  • Fleece or down jacket.
  • 2 T-shirts or undershirts (polypropylene or other wicking material, not cotton).
  • 1 long sleeved outer shirt.
  • Rain jacket and rain pants.
  • 1 extra sweatshirt or thin jacket that can be worn beneath the primary jacket.
  • 3 pairs of comfortable hiking socks (wool or non-cotton blends).
  • 2 pairs of extra underwear.
  • Hiking boots (broken in before the trek).
  • Thermal or flannel bottoms and sleep top.

Understand that the clothing packing list above attempts to guide Scouts to wear layers. Consider not packing a separate coat; instead a Scout should be able to “build” a coat through layering that includes a warm under layer, an outer shirt, a fleece jacket and even a rain jacket for a hard windbreaker outer shell. Layering is important as the days typically start off cold but warm up throughout the day. Also layering allows Scouts to sleep with warm clothes on to augment a sleeping bag. Again, follow the weather forecast closely and adjust items where it makes sense. Scouts should always have something clean and warm to sleep in at night. A warm hat and gloves are indispensable at this time of year. If you do a good job packing light, a “comfort item” that your Scout might want to consider packing is a small fleece scarf or neck warmer. Again, pack as light as possible since Scouts will have to carry all of their gear and may be responsible for taking some additional items that are needed by the group such as a backpacking stove, fuel, pot, or parts of the tent. You’ll want to leave room for at least 3 pounds of shared gear.

Personal Gear

  • A backpack to hold all clothing, food and gear, plus room for the Scout’s portion of the tent and cooking gear. A 35-liter to 50-liter backpack should be sufficient. (More on backpacks below.)
  • Pack cover or garbage bag to cover the pack if it rains.
  • Ground tarp – plastic sheeting works.
  • Sleeping pad (foam or self-inflating).
  • Sleeping bag (packed in garbage-bag-lined stuff sack to stay dry).
  • Pillow (or use stuff sack filled with a fleece jacket or other soft items). 
  • Lightweight flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries.
  • Mess kit for eating (cup, plate/bowl and spork) – bring only what you need for eating your food. Pack in a zip-lock bag.
  • Personal first aid kit with moleskin – keep this very small and light.
  • 1 bandana.
  • 1 hand towel.
  • Lightweight pocket knife (if the Scout has earned his Totin’ Chip).
  • Trail map.
  • Compass.
  • Pencil.
  • Personal hygiene kit (small comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, and a small bar of soap).
  • Sunscreen (small pump bottle or tube; no aerosol sprays).
  • Insect repellent (small pump bottle or tube; no aerosol sprays).
  • Sunglasses.
  • Rope for a clothesline.
  • A deck of cards is always a good idea. (As always, no phones or electronic games.)
  • Medication.
  • Several extra zip-lock bags.

Water, Food & Snacks

Your Scout must bring and carry all his food for the trek. Each meal should be packaged separately to ease finding it quickly when on the trail. He will need the following:

  • 2 filled 1-liter water bottles securely affixed to his backpack for easy access.
  • 1 ready-to-eat sack lunch for Saturday.
  • 1 Saturday evening dinner that is prepared by adding boiling water. Mountain House dinners found at Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods are good suggestions. Other good choices are instant noodles or instant mash potato dishes.
  • 1 hot or cold Sunday breakfast (Sunday hot water provided). Instant oatmeal packaged in serving cups are good suggestions.
  • A limited amount of trail and campsite snacks (6 to 8 ounces). Food should provide energy, such as nuts, dried fruit, energy/protein bars, beef jerky, trail mix, etc. No candy, junk food, energy drinks or juice boxes. Please do not overpack snacks as it causes Scouts to not eat their meals (and adds weight to their packs). They should be hungry at mealtime. It’s very common for Scouts who take too many snacks to not feel well and to have spoiled appetites.
  • 1 gallon of drinking water with your Scout’s name on it. This water will be delivered to the campsite by car and available to him for cooking and drinking.

Do NOT Bring!

  • Heavy canned goods.
  • Pop/soda.
  • Juice boxes.
  • Candy or junk food.
  • Hand warmers.
  • Magazines.
  • Backpack stoves or fuel.
  • Sneakers.
  • Suitcases or gym bags.
  • Sheath knives.


The Troop does have a limited number of backpacks to lend. Backpack fittings are available at the Tuesday meetings leading up to the backpacking treks.

Considerations when Purchasing a Backpack

What’s key with new backpacks is that they fit correctly and are intended for a youth body frame. Make sure from the product descriptions that the backpack is designed for a torso range that matches your Scout’s body measurements. An adult sized backpack will not fit a youth properly. Scouts will outgrow their youth backpacks in a few years, so it’s not necessary to spend a lot of money. What you want to look for is that it has a hip belt strap that fits securely around the waist, is large enough to hold food, clothing and gear, and that large things like sleeping bags and ground pads can be strapped on or stored inside.

Remember, if you pack light and take only what is absolutely needed, everything will fit. Avoid the temptation to pack anything extra or “just in case.” Follow the weather forecast and pack only what’s necessary for the trek.

If you plan to purchase a pack, make sure to do so well in advance of the trek so that it arrives in time to provide your Scout the ability to gain familiarity with the pack and its features and to allow for any necessary adjustments to the pack.

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