• OUR BACKPACKING CAMPING GEAR

    Backpacking Camping Gear Header
  • OUR BACKPACKING CAMPING GEAR

    Backpacking Camping Gear Header

OUR BACKPACKING CAMPING GEAR

WHAT WE USE AND WHY

We like to be prepared for backpacking or camping adventures wherever we travel. So for the last few years, our lightweight camping gear has been a permanent fixture of our full-time travel setup. This has allowed us to head off on remote multi-day hikes across Asia, Europe, and the Caucasus, and car camp on a budget while exploring Japan, Oman, and Scotland.

Having already covered our hiking gear in a separate guide, it’s time to dive into our complete backpacking camping gear. After using this gear for over three years now, we’ve had plenty of time to figure out everything we love and hate about it, and are ready to share our thoughts with you. We’ve broken things down into three sections – our kit for sleeping, cooking, and using around camp.

So whether you’re researching the best backpacking camping gear for your own adventures, or just curious to know what kit we use, we hope you’ll find this comprehensive rundown helpful and informative. 


A note on our style of backpacking….

While we use a lot of lightweight camping gear, we don’t consider ourselves ‘ultralight’ or ‘minimal’ backpackers. In fact, part of the reason we invested in lightweight, highly packable gear is to compensate for our extensive travel photography kit, the key components of which come with us on most hikes and bump our backpack weight up considerably. We travel full time (in the sense that we don’t have a permanent homebase) and everything we need for months/years on end fits in our two backpacks, plus our camera bag.

When heading off hiking, we usually leave unnecessary stuff at a guesthouse or such like. But quite often we carry enough gear to cover a lengthy amount of time and variety of situations, rather than packing for each specific multi-day hike. This means carrying more weight than we’d like, but it gives us the flexibility to hike one-way trails and stay out in the mountains for longer, rather than returning to our start point after each individual hike.

OUR BACKPACKING CAMPING GEAR

Jump to each section using the links below, or expand the boxes to find an item specific list.

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BACKPACKING CAMPING GEAR // SLEEPING

OUR BACKACKING CAMPING GEAR

SLEEPING

This is the ‘sleeping’ part of our camping gear, with each item an essential part of our lightweight backpacking kit.

TENT

We love our Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 tent. It is sturdy, incredibly lightweight (around 1.2 kg), and packs down nice and small. It has performed great in all kinds of weather, including torrential rain and high winds. We have the 2017 model. The latest model is similar, but with a few changes that make it even better. In a nutshell, it’s been the perfect choice for us, and we highly recommend it for three season backpacking.

The tent is quick and easy to put up and take down, and is also super versatile. It can be pitched as a free-standing tent (although we rarely use it in this way), or securely pegged out. You can pitch just the inner, which we did a few times on dry nights wild camping in Oman (oh those stars!). Alternatively, you can pitch just the fly and footprint, which works great for shade on the beach or as a basic shelter. It’s also possible to pitch the fly first and then attach the inner, or detach the inner from fly when already pitched  – very useful for keeping the inner dry when camping in the rain.


The HV stands for ‘high volume’, and the design really does make it feel spacious inside. There is plenty of head room even when sitting up, and enough space to move around when getting dressed or arranging our gear for the night. Storage pockets beside and above our heads are really handy for loose bits and bobs. Loops designed to store the open flaps double up as a handy place to hang clothes to air overnight. The latest design also has a large elevated storage pocket at the foot of the inner which we would find very useful. 

An essential part of our backpacking camping gear, here the Big Agnes Copper Spur fly and footprint is pitched at Dushakha Lakes in Tajikistan's Fann Mountains

It’s possible to pitch just the outer fly and footprint to create a basic shelter



An essential part of our backpacking camping gear, here the Big Agnes Copper Spur fly and footprint is pitched at Dushakha Lakes in Tajikistan's Fann Mountains

It’s possible to pitch just the outer fly
and footprint to create a basic shelter



Double access doors make it very easy for us both to get in and out without climbing over each other. The porch area on each side gives us room to store our boots, hiking poles, gaiters, and such like, plus a bit of extra space to stretch out in when the inner flaps are unzipped. The latest model has a redesigned porch area, allowing you to pitch out the flaps on each side using your hiking poles, creating an awning to shelter you from sun or drizzle.

Being able to pitch the Big Agnes Copper Spur tent without the fly, like here on the sand in an Omani wadi, helps makes it an indispensable part of our backpacking camping gear setup

Another possible set up with the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL tent is pitching only the inner



Being able to pitch the Big Agnes Copper Spur tent without the fly, like here on the sand in an Omani wadi, helps makes it an indispensable part of our backpacking camping gear setup

Another possible set up with the
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL tent
is pitching only the inner



There’s no denying it’s a snug fit with the two of us, plus our backpacks stored at our feet, but it works – although Del has no more room when fully stretched out (he’s 175 cm). We don’t feel cramped when inside with everything in place, but we do often wonder if the 3 person model (400 grams heavier) wouldn’t be a better fit. For two taller people with big backpacks, the larger model might be more suitable. The Copper Spur HV UL also comes in a 1 or 4 person model. There is a specific bikepacking version, too. 

Another thing we love about our ‘Big Aggie’ is the company’s customer service. After three years of use in a whole host of weather conditions, we had a few things like zippers and our tent pole elastic cord needing attention. The team at Big Agnes were quick to repair everything, either under warranty or for a minimal cost, shipping our tent back to us like new.

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EXTRA TENT PEGS (STAKES)

Our tent came with the exact number of tent pegs required, so Del wanted to get extras in case we lost or broke one. We opted for some MSR Groundhog pegs which are stronger and longer than the originals.

Extra tent stakes are an important part of our backpacking camping gear setup

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SLEEPING PAD

We have been hugely impressed with our Thermarest NeoAir XLite sleeping pads. Del has the ‘Regular’ size, and I have the women specific model. They are ultralight at 360g and 340g respectively, and pack down to the size of a Nalgene water bottle. Whether we sleep on our back or side, they are extremely comfortable and keep us warm by lifting us high off the ground. We were a bit concerned about the ‘crisp packet rustling’ sound we’d read about before buying, but it’s really not that noticeable and definitely eases off over time.

In over three years of use we have never suffered a puncture (we always use our mats inside our tent, along with the tent footprint). I did have a problem with my mat deflating overnight though, and after a replacement valve failed to fix the problem, we sent it to Thermarest for repair. Much like with Big Agnes, we were very impressed by their customer service and delighted that they replaced my mat under warranty.

Our 2017 models have the old style valve, but the latest models all feature the re-designed ‘winglock’ valve, which prevents air escaping while blowing up the pad and is more efficient.

The Thermarest NeoAir X-Lite is part of our backpacking camping setup

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THERMAREST PUMP SACK

We use a NeoAir Pump Sack to blow up our Thermarest NeoAir XLite mats instead of blowing them up by mouth. This stops us from getting lightheaded when camping at altitude, and prevents a build up of moisture inside the mat from water droplets in our breath. It usually takes around four pumps to blow up the mat, plus a couple of breaths to finish off because a bit of air always escapes when removing the sack and closing the valve. I suspect this will no longer be the case with the re-designed winglock valves.

A hiker infaltes her Thermarest NeoAir sleeping pad with a pump sack, both items contributing to a lightweight backpacking camping gear setup

Saving breath and putting the NeoAir Pump Sack to good use at 3000 m in Tajikistan



A hiker infaltes her Thermarest NeoAir sleeping pad with a pump sack, both items contributing to a lightweight backpacking camping gear setup

Saving breath and putting the NeoAir Pump
Sack to good use at 3000 m in Tajikistan



The pump sack also doubles up as a protective carry sack for our tent. We wrap the tent in the sack before strapping it to the outside of Del’s backpack. This protects the tent material from tearing when hiking through overgrown bushes or around sharp rocks.

The latest NeoAir XLite pads all come with a pump sack as standard, so there is no need to buy one separately anymore. Woohoo! Unless of course you want the extra special BlockerLite version, which doubles up handily as a roll-top dry sack.

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SLEEPING BAG

Down offers the best warmth-to-weight ratio and packs down super small. For these reasons we both opted for Rab down sleeping bags over cheaper synthetic models. Initially, we both bought the Rab Neutrino Endurance 400 (equivalent to the current Neutrino Pro 400 model). It was perfect in cool weather, but I didn’t find this warm enough when camping in cold, snowy conditions in Kyrgyzstan in September. I decided to upgrade to the warmer Mythic 600 in autumn 2019 and haven’t had a cold night since.

Del is still largely happy with his but has definitely felt a bit too cold while camping around 3000 m in frosty conditions. If we plan to spend more time camping in colder conditions in the future, he will probably upgrade to a warmer bag too.

One of the sleeping bags used in our backpacking camping gear setup

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One of the sleeping bags used in our backpacking camping gear setup

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COMPRESSION SACKS

Both of our sleeping bags weigh less than 900g and compress down to a packable size. In order to get them as small as possible, we use Sea to Summit compression sacks instead of the stuff sacks that came with them. 

A Sea to Summit compression sack compared against the original Rab sleeping bag stuff sack and a Nalgene water bottle, showing that it's a useful addition to any backpacking camping gear setup by packing a sleeping bag down as much as possible

The bag that came with our Rab sleeping bags on the left, the same sleeping bag in our Sea to Summit compression sack, and a Nalgene for scale



A Sea to Summit compression sack compared against the original Rab sleeping bag stuff sack and a Nalgene water bottle, showing that it's a useful addition to any backpacking camping gear setup by packing a sleeping bag down as much as possible

The bag that came with our Rab down sleeping
bags on the left,
the same sleeping bag in our
Sea to Summit compression sack in the middle,
and a Nalgene on the right for scale



These stuff sacks are also waterproof, ensuring our precious down bags stay bone dry. When at home, we store our sleeping bags in the cotton storage sack that comes with each bag to ensure the down maintains its loft.

This Seat to Summit compression sack is an invaluable part of our camping gear setup

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SILK LINER

We always sleep inside a silk liner when camping. If it’s warm, this is all we use and it helps keep us cool. If it’s cold, we use it inside our sleeping bag to add extra warmth. Silk is a great material for this purpose as it is lightweight and breathable, as well as being very comfortable. A second benefit of using a silk liner is that it protects our sleeping bag from dirt and sweat. Down sleeping bags are much trickier to clean than the liner itself. We both use a mummy shaped Rab 100% silk hooded liner, although Del would actually prefer one without a hood.

This Rab silk liner is an invaluable part of our camping gear setup

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CAMPING PILLOW

Rolling up clothes and stuffing them in a dry sack works for some, but we value a dedicated pillow for a good night’s sleep. We each use the Sea to Summit Aeros Ultralight camping pillow and it is incredibly comfortable. It also weighs next to nothing (60g) and packs down tiny. You can inflate and deflate it in seconds, and it’s very easy to machine wash. An all-round great bit of kit!

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BACKPACKING CAMPING GEAR // COOKWARE

OUR CAMPING GEAR

COOKWARE

The following items make up our lightweight camping cookware kit.

POCKET STOVE & GAS

 We like to enjoy a hot meal at the end of a long hike, and start each morning with a cup of real coffee. Therefore, a stove and gas are essential on multi-day camping hikes. We still use the same cheap pocket stove we bought many moons ago while living in Korea. It is tiny, lightweight, and screws directly into a threaded gas canister.

The pocket stove and gas canister, seen here being lit, is always part of our backpacking camping gear setup

Our pocket stove is small, lightweight, and easy to screw in and use with one of these standard threaded gas canisters



The pocket stove and gas canister, seen here being lit, is always part of our backpacking camping gear setup

Our pocket stove is small, lightweight, and
easy to screw in and use with one of these
standard threaded gas canisters



You can’t fly with a gas canister, but so far we have always been able to hunt out the gas we need locally before setting off on a hike (usually in a major city like Dushanbe or Tbilisi). A multi-fuel stove like the MSR Whisperlite Universal is far more versatile though, and we’ll be making the switch if we ever plan a hike where sourcing regular gas canisters is a problem.

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MUG & BOWL

We each have a collapsible Sea to Summit silicone X- Mug and X-Bowl, and they are great! They are very lightweight, pack down tiny, and are still going strong after more than three years of use, with no holes in the creases like you might expect.

There are measurements marked up the inner side of both mug and bowl, very handy for ensuring Del never gets more wine than me. The solid nylon rim on the mug makes it easy and enjoyable to drink from, like a real cup. The same material is used for the solid base of the bowl, making it easy to handle and also useful as a chopping board. Being silicone, they do tend to take on strong flavours. This is more of an issue with the mug, like the time we had chicken and leek cup-a-soup and got a whiff of it with every sip of coffee for two weeks after…

The X-Mug is an important part of our backpacking camping gear setup

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The X-Bowl is an important part of our backpacking camping gear setup

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SPORK

We originally bought the Sea to Summit AlphaLight Cutlery Set which includes a knife and spork, but we found that we never use the knife and the spork is all we need. It does a fine job, but any time we’re eating straight out of a dehydrated meal bag we wish we had a longer handled spork, like the TOAKS titanium long handled spork with polished bowl (for easy cleaning and a nice ‘mouth feel’). This would prevent us from getting food all up our hands when we dig deep for every last morsel.

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COOKING POT

We bought the Sea to Summit X-Set 31 with the above mugs and bowls, plus the 2.8 litre X Pot. It is also silicone, with an anodised aluminium base and a lid that doubles as a strainer. The mugs and bowls nest neatly inside the pot, with everything collapsing down into a frisbee sized package.

Sea To Summit X-Set Cookware, seen here drying on a rock, is always part of our backpacking camping gear

The Sea to Summit X-Set with the X-Brew alongside and the X-Pot Kettle lid loitering there too



Sea To Summit X-Set Cookware, seen here drying on a rock, is always part of our backpacking camping gear

The Sea to Summit X-Set, with the X-Brew
alongside and the X-Pot Kettle loitering in front



We were very happy with the pot for the first couple of years, but eventually cracks appeared in the lid and then it completely broke apart. This obviously makes it much less useful, as it takes longer to cook food without a lid, and we can no longer snap shut the whole nested package. There are a couple of other things that bug us about this pot too, like the fact that there is no proper handle, and that more often than not the capacity is greater than we need for two people. Years of stuffing it in our backpacks has no doubt led to the plastic lid breaking, making us rethink how practical this design really is.

So, with that said we are giving up on this pot and replacing it with the Sea to Summit 1.9 litre Alpha pot. This is actually lighter than the X-Pot, and although not collapsible, we can store other items inside so it shouldn’t be any less easy to pack. It has a handle, and overall we are confident that it will be more durable and practical in the long run.

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KETTLE

The Sea to Summit X-Pot Kettle is a great addition to our camp cookware. We have the 1.3 litre version which is perfect for boiling water for coffee or dehydrated meals, or for stirring up powdered milk for breakfast. It sits steadily on our pocket stove and pours great, with folding handles for ease of carry. 

Pouring milk from the Sea to Summit X-Pot Kettle, a long serving part of our backpacking camping gear

The Sea to Summit X-Pot Kettle is easy to use and a great pourer



Pouring milk from the Sea to Summit X-Pot Kettle, a long serving part of our backpacking camping gear

The Sea to Summit X-Pot Kettle is
easy to use and a great pourer



Like the rest of the X-Series, the kettle collapses down, with our X-Brew coffee dripper nesting neatly inside. There is also room for one X-Mug, or you could store two X-Mugs without the X-Brew. After more than three years of rugged use, the plastic lid has finally developed a crack, but it’s still usable for now and we continue to take it backpacking with us.

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SEALABLE FOOD CONTAINER

Del wasn’t initially sold on the value of our Sea to Summit X Seal & Go food container, but after a summer of hiking in Georgia and eating leftovers for lunch most days, he’s a convert! We have one ‘large’ food container, which looks similar to our collapsible bowl, but has a leak-proof threaded lid for secure food or liquid storage on the go. We have mostly used it for storing leftovers from dinner to eat the next day, or storing ‘messy’ food from guesthouses to carry on the trail with us. It works great as a bowl too, and is more rigid than the standard X-Bowl given the solid rim around the top.

This sealable container is a great part of our backpacking camping gear, important for  storing leftover food

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COFFEE DRIPPER

Completing our Sea to Summit X Series cookware is the X-Brew coffee dripper, a must for us lovers of REAL coffee. We’ve been using this on and off the trail while travelling for over three years, ensuring we can get our coffee fix wherever and whenever. It’s simple to use, just sit the dripper on top of a mug, spoon some ground coffee in and pour hot water over. The mesh filter is removable for rinsing in between cups. This isn’t so easy to clean when we have limited water at camp, but otherwise it works great and produces a solid cup of coffee.

This coffee dripper is ideal for a lightweight backpacking camping setup

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BIODEGRADABLE SOAP

We have some multi-purpose biodegradable Wilderness Wash from Sea to Summit. This is great for washing our camping cookware, and for doing our laundry.

A biodegradable liquid soap great for washing dishes on a backpacking camping trip

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FIND YOUR NEXT OUTDOOR ADVENTURE

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A view of Tetnuldi peak from Latpari Pass on the Ushguli to Chvelpi hike
The twin peaks of Ushba and Chatyn-Tau, seen from the trail on Day 2 of the Mestia to Ushguli trek in Svaneti, Georgia
A hiker on the steep final approach to Gul Pass, on the Chuberi to Mestia section of the Transcaucasian Trail in Svaneti
Mountains reflected in Kelitsadi Lake on a still morning
Two hikers and a dog rest on a rock in front of an unnamed lake on the Black Rock Lake trek
A hiker climbs the shale switchback trail to Atsunta Pass on the Shatili Omalo trek, with the layered mountains of Khevsureti behind
A hiker descends the switchback ridgeline trail from Chaukhi Pass to Abudelauri Lakes on the Juta to Roshka trek in Georgia
Snow capped Mt. Kazbek shining bright at sunrise, as seen from the town of Kazbegi (Stepantsminda) in northern Georgia
The settlement of Abano in Truso Valley, with the old monastery on the right and Zakagori Fortress seen behind
One of the best views of Gergeti Trinity Church, seen from the hiking trail to Gergeti Glacier and Mt. Kazbek
Hikers descend from the viewpoint at Kojori Fortress in Georgia
A person walks beneath the huge dusty sky looking at the seemingly endless hazy view at Takhti-Tepha Mud Volcanoes in the Vashlovani Protected Area
A narrow trekking trail in Upper Mustang stretching off into the distance amidst some bizarre rock formations, with the snowy peak of Dhaulagiri in the background
Trekkers on a trail approaching a round orange rock formation with a plateau stretched out into the distance in Upper Mustang
A 4x4 vehicle drives towards the Western Hajar Mountains on a 1 month Oman road trip.
Sunrise hitting the Annapurna Mountains in Nepal
Trekkers look out while descending from the Larke Pass on the Manaslu Circuit Trek
Golden sunrise light hits the wall of the Omani Grand Canyon below Jebel Shams. A 4WD and tent sits on the rim of the canyon.
A house front in the village of Karakul in Tajikistan, shining in the early morning sun.
A orange, yellow and pink sunrise rises over Wadi Bih in the mountains of Musandam, Oman
A catamaran sails on the calm water at sunset off the south coast of Jeju Island
A female Olle Trail hiker standing by a Hallabong mosaic mural, looking out to sea on Jeju Island
Yurts lined up at Tulparkul, in the shadow of Peak Lenin
Two small kids wandering the wide dusty streets of Karakul in northern Tajikistan
Looking out from wat Pha Lat over Chiang Mai, reflected in the still water and surrounded by lush green vegetation
Peanmeanach Bothy on the Ardnish Peninsula in February
Pinks and yellows light the sky at sunrise in the mountains of Musandam. The flat area shows our campsite where the tent and our Toyota Fortuner gleam in the morning light.
The mirror-like blue surface of Khor Najd stretches into the distance, framed by sandy mountains and cliffs
Sunrise reflections on the mirror-like surface of Alauddin Lake in the Fann Mountains of Tajikistan.
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Bijindo: Two local women protected from the hot sun walk in front of a sashimi shack
Looking towards one of Saryangdo Island's suspension bridges from the ridge hiking trail, with the road bridge and surrounding islands in the distance, South Korea
Two hikers traverse the grassy ridge on Day 2 of the Panorama Trail
A view of Tetnuldi peak from Latpari Pass on the Ushguli to Chvelpi hike
The twin peaks of Ushba and Chatyn-Tau, seen from the trail on Day 2 of the Mestia to Ushguli trek in Svaneti, Georgia
A hiker on the steep final approach to Gul Pass, on the Chuberi to Mestia section of the Transcaucasian Trail in Svaneti
Mountains reflected in Kelitsadi Lake on a still morning
Two hikers and a dog rest on a rock in front of an unnamed lake on the Black Rock Lake trek
A hiker climbs the shale switchback trail to Atsunta Pass on the Shatili Omalo trek, with the layered mountains of Khevsureti behind
A hiker descends the switchback ridgeline trail from Chaukhi Pass to Abudelauri Lakes on the Juta to Roshka trek in Georgia
Snow capped Mt. Kazbek shining bright at sunrise, as seen from the town of Kazbegi (Stepantsminda) in northern Georgia
The settlement of Abano in Truso Valley, with the old monastery on the right and Zakagori Fortress seen behind
One of the best views of Gergeti Trinity Church, seen from the hiking trail to Gergeti Glacier and Mt. Kazbek
Hikers descend from the viewpoint at Kojori Fortress in Georgia
A person walks beneath the huge dusty sky looking at the seemingly endless hazy view at Takhti-Tepha Mud Volcanoes in the Vashlovani Protected Area
A narrow trekking trail in Upper Mustang stretching off into the distance amidst some bizarre rock formations, with the snowy peak of Dhaulagiri in the background
Trekkers on a trail approaching a round orange rock formation with a plateau stretched out into the distance in Upper Mustang
A 4x4 vehicle drives towards the Western Hajar Mountains on a 1 month Oman road trip.
Sunrise hitting the Annapurna Mountains in Nepal
Trekkers look out while descending from the Larke Pass on the Manaslu Circuit Trek
Golden sunrise light hits the wall of the Omani Grand Canyon below Jebel Shams. A 4WD and tent sits on the rim of the canyon.
A house front in the village of Karakul in Tajikistan, shining in the early morning sun.
A orange, yellow and pink sunrise rises over Wadi Bih in the mountains of Musandam, Oman
A catamaran sails on the calm water at sunset off the south coast of Jeju Island
A female Olle Trail hiker standing by a Hallabong mosaic mural, looking out to sea on Jeju Island
Yurts lined up at Tulparkul, in the shadow of Peak Lenin
Two small kids wandering the wide dusty streets of Karakul in northern Tajikistan
Looking out from wat Pha Lat over Chiang Mai, reflected in the still water and surrounded by lush green vegetation
Peanmeanach Bothy on the Ardnish Peninsula in February
Pinks and yellows light the sky at sunrise in the mountains of Musandam. The flat area shows our campsite where the tent and our Toyota Fortuner gleam in the morning light.
The mirror-like blue surface of Khor Najd stretches into the distance, framed by sandy mountains and cliffs
Sunrise reflections on the mirror-like surface of Alauddin Lake in the Fann Mountains of Tajikistan.
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Looking towards one of Saryangdo Island's suspension bridges from the ridge hiking trail, with the road bridge and surrounding islands in the distance, South Korea

BACKPACKING CAMPING GEAR // AROUND CAMP

OUR BACKPACKING CAMPING GEAR

AROUND CAMP

Besides our sleeping gear and cookware, there are a number of extra things we pack for using around camp. Some of these items are essential for every backpacking trip, while others could be considered luxuries or only necessary in certain situations. You can find some of these extras on our general Hiking Gear packing list too.

WATER TREATMENT SYSTEM

We nearly always treat our water when camping, and our preferred sterilisation tool is the Steripen Ultra. It’s quick and easy to use, and leaves no aftertaste like some purification tablets. It takes 90 seconds to sterilise 1 litre of water, killing all bacteria with UV light. We use it with the Nalgene wide mouth Steripen filter to ensure there are no weird floating things in our water.

The Steripen has a USB rechargeable battery and the display shows you how much life is left, so it’s never a guessing game. We can charge it via our solar panel or power bank, although we only have to charge on longer multi-day camping treks as the battery lasts a few days. Each bulb sterilises 8000 litres before needing to be replaced, which the company will do for free.

Treating water in a Nalgene bottle with a Steripen, a vital part of backpacking camping gear

Treating water with the Steripen, an ever present part of our backpacking camping gear



Treating water in a Nalgene bottle with a Steripen, a vital part of backpacking camping gear

Treating water with the Steripen, an ever
present part of our backpacking camping gear



We’ve found the Steripen to be very reliable over the past 3+ years, but always carry a few purification tablets as an emergency backup. The only time we’ve had issues with the Steripen is in very cold conditions, such as at high altitude in Nepal. We’ve found that warming it inside our jackets while giving the water time to warm up solves the problem.

Our Steripen has become a valuable piece of our backpacking kit, both on and off the trail. We use it everywhere we travel and never have to buy bottled water anywhere in the world.

The Steripen is an important part of our bacpacking camping gear

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The Steripen wide mouth bottle filter is a useful part of a backpacking camping gear setup

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WATER BOTTLE

We always use a water bladder for drinking while hiking, but around camp it’s much handier to have a water bottle. We each have a 1 litre Nalgene Tritan Wide Mouth bottle. The wide mouth makes them easy to clean, and easy to fill up. As we can’t sterilise more than 1 litre at a time, they are the perfect size for accurately sterilising the correct amount of water, before filling up our water bladder(s). They have measurements marked up the side which is ideal for cooking, although we’ve had these bottles for so many years that the markings have now largely rubbed off.

The bottles are tough, meaning we can chuck them around without damaging them. They are also easy to carry or hook onto our backpacks via the grab loop. The twist cap is always simple to open and close, without any annoying rubber seal bands that fall out or get lost. Literally the only thing I don’t like about these bottles is that you end up with water all down your face if you try to drink in a moving vehicle. That in itself has led to some memorably comic moments though…

A Nalgene water bottle like this is always part of our backpacking campng gear setup

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WATER RESERVOIR

I always hike with a 3 litre Hydrapak water bladder, and at camp this comes in useful as an extra water reservoir. This is especially true if our water source is far away and we want to carry as much water as possible to camp in one go. 

A water reservoir like this is an important part of a backpacking camping gear setup

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HEADTORCH (HEADLAMP)

A headtorch (headlamp) is essential and we each have a Black Diamond ReVolt. We chose this model because it uses rechargeable batteries, so we never have to worry about carrying spares or running out on the trail. We can use our solar panel or power bank to charge via micro USB, which plugs straight into the headtorch. They also work with regular alkaline AAA batteries, making them extra versatile. Overall, we’ve been very happy with the BD ReVolt headlamp, the only thing we don’t like about it is that the back case is very stiff and tricky to open when you need to access the batteries. This isn’t very often though.

A good headtorch like this is worth having as part of your backpacking camping gear

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SOLAR PANEL

We carry an Anker 15W solar panel for charging our phones, headlamps, Steripen, Del’s Garmin watch, camera batteries, and so on. It has two USB ports and works great in direct sun, okay in patchy sun, and not so much when it’s cloudy. It’s awkward to use on the move, so we try to charge things around camp in the morning or during lunch stops when hiking.

The Anker Solar Panel, seen here on the roof of a Mongolian ger, is always part of our backpacking camping gear setup

Perfect sunny conditions for the solar panel in Mongolia



The Anker Solar Panel, seen here on the roof of a Mongolian ger, is always part of our backpacking camping gear setup

Sunny conditions for the solar panel in Mongolia



When not in use, it folds flat and takes up minimal space. We usually pack it at the bottom of our backpack lid to stop it from getting bent or broken. We always carry an Anker 20100mAh power bank too for guaranteed charging capabilities. 

This solar panel is a useful item to have in your backpacking camping gear

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TOILET KIT

We keep all of our toilet related stuff together in one handy grab kit (ie. a ziploc bag or similar). This includes toilet paper, antibacterial gel, biodegradable (where possible) bin bags to pack out our used toilet paper, and a camp trowel for digging a toilet hole.

We were using the Sea to Summit nylon pocket trowel for the last few years but somehow misplaced it on our last hiking trip, so we need to replace it before we set off again. We’ll be getting the TheTentLab Deuce model instead, as our previous trowel just couldn’t cope with tough ground. We were initially put off the TentLab one because of reviews saying it is hard to hold as the aluminium digs into your hand. But, we have faith that it will cope with hard ground much better, and we’ll just need to wear gloves when digging if it hurts.

This toilet hole trowel is an essential item for any backpacking camping gear setup

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GROUND SHEET / PICNIC BLANKET

GROUND SHEET

This certainly isn’t an ‘essential’ backpacking item, but we love our Nordkamm ground sheet and use it all the time. This large picnic blanket folds down small, is fairly light (about 350g), and keeps all of our gear clean and dry when packing and unpacking our backpacks. We usually hike with expensive camera gear and other bits and bobs that we want to keep out of the dirt, dust, or moist grass. Being able to keep everything in one place on the mat helps us stay organised and our gear in working order.

It’s also quite nice to have a clean and dry spot to sit on, and it can double up as a sun shade or rain tarp by using the corner loops to attach it to branches or such like. Our particular ground sheet isn’t easily available outside of Europe, but the Matador picnic blankets are similar and more widely available.

A lightweight groundsheet like this is a useful addition to your backpacking gear setup

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SCRUBBA

For longer backpacking trips, we pack our trusty Scrubba for doing laundry on the go. Again, this isn’t an ‘essential’ item, but it is one we value. It looks like a dry bag, but with a valve for squeezing out air and a knobbly washboard inside. It makes washing clothes without polluting any water source easy, and also gives them a much better clean than hand washing alone. You just add water and soap (we use the same Wilderness Wash that we have for washing dishes), roll down and clip the bag, release the excess air, and rub the clothes against the washboard for a minute or two. You can empty the dirty water away from your fresh water source, fill it up again with clean water to rinse, then wring out and hang up your clothes to dry.


The Scrubba also doubles up as a waterproof bag for keeping stuff dry, or separating wet/dirty clothes from the rest of your gear. The fact that you can compress all of the air out like a vacuum sealed bag is a great space saver.

The Scrubba Washbag, used here by a person in the water, is a multi purpose item for a backpacking camping gear setup

The versatile Scrubba washbag being used to keep a few essentials dry in Oman



The Scrubba Washbag, used here by a person in the water, is a multi purpose item for a backpacking camping gear setup

The versatile Scrubba washbag being
used to keep a few essentials dry in Oman



We have the classic green Scrubba Wash Bag, and the larger Scrubba Stealth Pack, which comes with detachable straps for turning it into a waterproof backpack. For most camping situations, the smaller and lighter green wash bag is ideal. The Stealth Pack is more versatile overall, even doubling up as a camp shower (although we’ve never tested out this function!). Realistically, the straps are too heavy to carry with us on backpacking trips, but we’ve often used the Stealth Pack as a daypack off the trail, and the larger capacity for laundry suits two people well. There is also a Mini Scrubba which is a good option for solo ultralight campers.

The Scrubba is a versatile item worth having in your backpacking camping gear setup

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The Scrubba Washbag Mini, a useful item for a lightweight backpacking camping setup

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The Scrubba Stealth Pack is a versatile item worth considering for your backpacking camping gear setup

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FIRST AID KIT

We have a general first aid kit that we top up as and when we need with extra sterile wipes, plasters, painkillers, Compeed blister pads, rehydration sachets, and so on. Thankfully we haven’t incurred any serious injuries while hiking or camping, but we’ve had plenty of minor scrapes requiring antibacterial wipes, antiseptic cream, or a plaster.

A first aid kit which is an essential part of any backpacking camping gear setup

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PEN KNIFE

We have a Victorinox Swiss Army Hunstman Pocket Knife which comes in handy for all sorts. We use the sharp knife and scissors more than anything, but the can opener and flathead screwdriver have seen plenty of use too.

A multi tool penknife like this is an important part of any backpacking gear gear setup

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TOILETRIES

The amount of toiletries we have with us usually depends on how long we are backpacking for, and whether we’ll have the opportunity to shower along the way or not. If it’s just a few days we usually only pack our toothbrushes, a small tube of toothpaste, sunscreen, and I like to have a small bottle of face cleanser. We won’t bother with soap, shampoo, or deodorant. If it’s up to a few weeks with a mixture of camping and guesthouses along the trail, we’ll also pack soap, a shampoo bar, and deodorant. A packet of wet wipes is handy for ‘showering’ no matter the length of trip. 

Bamboo toothbrushes are ideal for a lightweight backpacking camping gear setup

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Good quality sunscreen is an important part of a backpacking camping gear setup

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TRAVEL TOWEL

We each have a microfibre travel towel which we’ll pack for longer hiking trips where we anticipate being able to properly wash or shower (at a hostel for example). Otherwise we’ll just pack a much smaller towel suitable for drying off wet feet after a river crossing or such like.

A lightweight microfibre towel might be worth including in your backpacking camping gear

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OUR BACKPACKING CAMPING GEAR

That’s the lot! Each of these items have been with us in one form or another for the past few years, and overall, we’re pretty settled on our backpacking camping gear. Saying that, there’s always room for improvement, so if you have any great ideas or suggestions get in touch and let us know in the comments below.

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Our Backpacking Camping Gear: What We Use and WhyOur Backpacking Camping Gear: What We Use and Why
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