Introduction: My Awesome Backpacking Camp Setup/ Checklist!

Picture of My Awesome Backpacking Camp Setup/ Checklist!

A few weeks ago, I went boy Scout camping on Lake Chatauqua in NY, and I was the only one with the best setup in the whole camp.  Lets just say it was the best week camping ever.  First Thing, This is a checklist for hammock camping, but it could also be used as one for tent camping also.  P.S. If you have any comments/ questions, just comment below or on any other step. Thank- you.

Step 1: What You Will Need (necessities)

Picture of What You Will Need (necessities)

-A Hammock. I have an Amazonas Moskito Bug Hammock from Byer Of Maine. 
-Slap Straps or any other tree suspension kit. 
-2 Weight load tested carabiners. 
-50 or so feet of paracord. Useful for anything. 
-Trekking poles. 
-Tote, or backpack if you are backpacking. 
-Sleeping bag. 
-GPSWith extra Batteries. I have the Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx. 
-Cortizone, Bug Spray, Sunscreen, Waterproofer. 
-Big Tarp (10'x12'). 
-Poop Trowel. 
-Mess Kit. 
-Clothes. 1 Pair of everything for every day, plus one or two pairs just in case. Try wearing compression shorts (Spandex underwear) instead of cotton underwear to avoid chafing.
-First-Aid Kit, Fire starter, Knife, Gold Bond for chafing(I know this From Experience. Life Changing.)
-Water Bladder with water purification tablets or straw filter.
-Dish Soap/ Hand Sanitizer.
-Hiking Boots And/Or Sneakers. 
-Duct Tape. 
-Toilet Paper. 
-Flashlight/ Headlamp.
-Stove and Extra fuel. 


Step 2: What You Will Want (Optional)

-Bathing Suit With Towel.
-Sleeping Pad (Necessary for Winter Hammock Camping). 
-Playing Cards. 

Step 3: How to Pack Your Backpack.

Picture of How to Pack Your Backpack.

First Thing, keep heavy things low, and close to your back. You don't want 5 cans of soup almost a foot behind you level to your neck.  You will feel weighed down way more than you need to. haha just kidding.  You want to try to pack at most 30% of your body weight. This includes your pack. It excludes what you are wearing.  If you don't have a backpack, you could rent it and other gear here. .  I don't really know what to look for in a backpack besides size and weight, so I can't help you there.  I do know that you will need a hip belt and sternum strap, but I think they all come standard.  

Step 4: How to Setup Your Camp Like I Did

After you have your gear, go camping! You want to look for trees that are in this formation:   

                o                    o


You want to hang your hammock between 2 sturdy trees, and use 2 smaller ones (Or your trekking poles) to spread your tarp out to the sides.  After the hammock is up, tie paracord between the slap straps to support the tarp. Thread paracord through the diagonal corner grommets(holes) on your tarp, and tie those to your carabiners tight.  Then, thread the other corner grommets and either tie them to a sapling, or, to a trekking pole, then make a guy wire to add stability to the pole.  You can setup a clothesline too, if you want.


larry_too (author)2015-09-11

MRE's are heavy, hi energy (exceeded only by white (arctic) MRE's) complete rations which can be eaten indefinitely. LRP's are dehydrated, light weight, low protein, for use up to a week or ten days. (Long Range Patrol).

Real Para-cord supports 550 # but has seven strands and a cover, each useful by themselves. Well worth the weight and expense. The belt is a good idea.

Ghostdog8541 (author)larry_too2016-12-28

Take the MRE's appart and place them in a bag counts down on the weight by getting rid of the extras that are in it.

EdwardB60 (author)2016-11-21

You over pack clothes - One set of trail clothes, a base layer for sleeping, a set of town clothes for civilized areas (and while you wash the trail clothes) with a spare set of Merino wool socks and "maybe" a spare set of boxers (Commando is the best defense for chafing). Somebody already said it but stay away from cotton. Zip off trouser legs are wonderful things.

Dish soap isn't needed, boiling water does fine. Eat as much as possible first then drink the post boil dishwater to minimize environment impact. Hand soap is needed. Sanatizer will NOT kill the dreaded norovirus.

Bladders leak. They are great for day hikes or working out but if you out multiple days keep your water outside of your pack. Smart water bottles are very light and easily replaced.

Mess kit need only be 1 pot and 1 cup.

Replace the GPS with a map and a compass. Make sure you know how to use em.

Volkivich (author)2016-11-20

Instead of the poop trowel you might want to use this from another instructable -

Useful & lightweight, in Oz here you can get a Jungle Hammock from the army surplus stores that comes complete with its own waterproof flycover & mosquito netting (I always string a tarp over top just as a precaution). nice work btw ☺.

eblair4 (author)2016-09-06

Cotton kills?

eblair4 (author)2016-09-06

Plus, large black garbage bags= raincoats, cover this, cover that, store backup ice, sleeping& bag cover, field toilet or privacy. The deluxe version adda a tie wrap or wire tie! Two thicknesses: thick and thicker?

nichalos82 (author)2015-07-28

I had to mention the Hennessy Hammock @

This thing is really cool and super light!

Xthinker (author)2013-02-11

Hip belts are not necessary unless you are carrying a heavy load, me and my dad went on an overnight trip with only 20lb. packs each, possibly 18lb. We were perfectly fine with our packs, super light and we could hardly notice it.

dawncwoodworth (author)Xthinker2015-05-15

Actual hiking packs are made so that a majority of the weight sits on your hips rather than your shoulders and back. They are much more efficient. And certainly much more comfortable. I agree with GVLiz, wearing the correct pack for your hiking experience could very well save your life or at the very least prevent a serious injury.

GVLiz (author)Xthinker2013-07-03

You were LUCKY that time. However, if you or your dad had:
A. needed to traverse anything narrow, requiring balance, your packs could make an awkward shift or lift up as you are standing on one leg and windmilling your arms about, trying to readjust your stance. Backpack takes your center of gravity with it as it leaves your body, and over the edge you go! OR...
B. been navigating a tight spot, whether crouching to go under branches or squeezing between a couple of boulders (or what have you). A loose pack makes your silhouette larger, making this more difficult. On top of that, if your pack should get stuck in the tight spot as you emerge, it could easily cause you to injure yourself, tear your pack, or even get you stuck there with it! LAST BUT NOT LEAST...this happened to me:
C. I slipped going down a steep incline, and landed hard on my butt (I also broke my wrist since I was dumb enough to try to break my fall with my hands). If my hip strap hadn't been properly cinched, the force of the pack hitting the ground could very well have tipped the top bar over enough to give me whiplash or a concussion, assuming it didn't actually break my neck!
Please, everyone, even if it doesn't seem necessary, USE YOUR EQUIPMENT the way it's intended to be used. Those comfort and safety features are there because people hurt themselves or died, without them. Blessings -- GVLiz

SparkySolar (author)2014-10-23

I would add solar panels sewn into camping cloth to this. If there is an emergency, and your phone is dead, you are out of luck.

Joshua Zimmerman is also a featured Author on Instructables here.

When my daughter last went camping, she was the only one, who was able to charge her phone.

SparkySolar (author)2014-10-23


grahambob68 (author)2013-06-15

In the Army (British) you sleep fully clothed. However, you do carry two sets of clothing, one worn during activity and one worn in your sleeping bag. The set worn in your sleeping bag is always dry and you put your wet clothing back on in the morning (horrible to do but you warm up quickly with some activity.). Obviously you can't sleep naked in the army whilst on exercise or operational in case you need to bug out or fight at a moments notice. Also map and compass are essential but so is the knowledge and skill to use them.
Great instructabe by the way.

Jackoffmanytrades (author)2013-04-27

No compass, should always carry a one since batteries and electronics can fail. There's never a substitute for simplicity.

iwoodinspire (author)2011-08-22

If you go winter camping, you don't want to float in the air necessarily. You need insulation between you and the cold earth for sure, but if it's 15 degrees farenheit, having that cold air both above and below you will suck the heat out of you just as badly. I speak that from experience, I once took a cot winter camping and I had to wear all my warm clothes inside my mummy bag and it was a long night to say the least.

Cool air, yes. Klondike derby sleeping in the snow, no way with a hammock! :)

Blaaken (author)iwoodinspire2011-08-23

Also, sleep as close to naked in a sleeping bag as possible, sleeping bags are made to do this, the more clothes you wear the less effective your sleeping bag is. plus you could put a sleeping bag up on the hammock.

jgill6 (author)Blaaken2011-09-20

I also learned the "take your clothes off before you get in your sleeping bag" rule as a Boy Scout many years ago. At the time I was camping in warm weather, wearing sweaty clothes at the end of the day, and had a thick down army surplus sleeping bag. It still makes sense to get close to naked in these circumstances. However, if your clothes are dry, your sleeping bag is synthetic (or thin down), and it's below freezing, you're going to want as much insulation around you as possible. You will stay warmer if you leave your clothes on. In fact, wearing a wool sweater and hat inside your sleeping bag can mean the difference between staying comfortably warm and being uncomfortably cold.

Always be sure to leave your nose and mouth outside the bag, so that the water vapor in your breath doesn't get inside the bag. Breathing inside your bag will warm you at first, but make you colder later on as the water vapor condenses and accumulates. When deciding to what to wear or not wear when it's cold, remember this: non-circulating air insulates and keeps warmth close to you, and water conducts and takes warmth away from you.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is using an air mattress when it is cold. The air in an air mattresses circulates from convection currents, transferring your body heat right into the cold ground. A thin closed-cell foam mattress may not protect you as much from the lumps of the ground, but it will transfer heat away from you more slowly. As a previous commenter noted, you should balance the insulation above and below you. and remember that your body weight will compress the insulation in your bag--especially if it is down.

Ojsmudge (author)jgill62013-01-11

Are you sure that is convection as the air wouldnt circulate as the heat is on top of the air mattress heating the air below you making it rise and stay at the top, so heats stays at the top and cold air at the bottom. Convection would happen when a heat source is below so the warm air rises then the cold air sinks, when the heat reaches the top the air cools then sinks again.

trevorcgross (author)Blaaken2011-08-24

Did not know you should be as naked as possible. Great idea.

Blaaken (author)trevorcgross2011-08-24

oh, and also, even if you're in zero degree (Fahrenheit) weather, your body can maintain it's temp. for like a few minutes before you get cold, although if it is windy this will shorten the time considerably. that's why you get your sleeping bag set up, then strip and get in. but keep your clothes with you, maybe put them under your sleeping bag on the hammock.

Blaaken (author)trevorcgross2011-08-24

yup, and the best sleeping bags are normally made by the army too, or at least i prefer them. This is an opinion. But yeah, sleeping bags are made for you to sleep basically naked, basically meaning that if you're with friends, i doubt they want to see you in your birthday suit. but, underwear is fine though. try camping in cold weather in a sleeping bag and only wear underwear. But make sure your sleeping bag is a good one. nothing like freezing to death to make you feel stupid. lol.

rocketkid (author)iwoodinspire2011-09-08

solution to freezing to death in hammoc: cut small hole in bottom of sleeping bag, slide sleeping bag over the "feet end" of hammoc, then hang up your hammoc. this keeps the bag from compressing beneath you and losing all the insulation on the bottom. you obviously dont want to do this with an expensive sleeping bag, and i dont know how it would work with a mosquito hammoc, but i just carry a bug net around that drapes over the sides of my hammoc under a tarp. this is also nice, because if you run a string/cord above your hammoc then you can slide netting up or down or wherever you want it. love hammoc camping =) nice ible

trevorcgross (author)rocketkid2011-09-09

good idea, I don't know if I want to try that though.

jrossetti (author)iwoodinspire2011-08-23

There are plenty of lightweight hammocks with sleeves for underquilts. Not to mention awesome underquilts... I've camped in 5F temps in the winter with nice down quilts (top and under) and slept better than the people in our party who were on the ground.

Ain't no sense in partakin' in a winter adventure when yer not prepared for it.

trevorcgross (author)jrossetti2011-08-23


That's why I included the sleeping pad. You could also use a survival blanket, etc. for extra insulation.

Pfarmkid (author)2012-09-14

I'm really interested in camping with a hammock instead of a tent when it rains how do you keep the rain from running down the ropes and getting you wet?


HAL 9000 (author)Pfarmkid2012-10-21

Tie lengths of rope onto the hammock lines and allow them to hang down, just under the edges of the tarp. Most of the water will run down these hanging ropes and not into your hammock.

trevorcgross (author)Pfarmkid2012-09-14

Try to keep that rope as straight and tight as possible. Try to go for a static rope (little to no stretch).

And lay your hammock perpendicular to wind, so there is less chance of rain blown by wind.

OutdoorKid (author)2012-08-21

I really like your idea but there are a lot of things you could change like your can of OFF for OFF wipes and maybe instead of food bring a list of things you could find for food in the area your staying in. There are different things to do but otherwise your project is great. One more thing do actually ever go hiking so that you might actually need this kit?

Bushie (author)2012-03-19

Nice enough set-up you have there for base camping, but weight could be trimmed a bit for more serious backpacking ~

* no canned food;
* a smaller lighter tarp;
* replace the regular towel with a "travel" towel;
* strong masons twine, or "hootchie cord", can replace your paracord;
* learn to tie knots, rather than depend on carabiners...

I consider phones and GPS to be extras, NOT necessities (and certainly not essentials..).

Never forget your map(s) and compass when travelling anywhere..

While cotton can be deadly in cold and wet conditions, it still has its place ~ in warm-hot and humid conditions, and where you can wash it regularly...

decc1954 (author)Bushie2012-07-15

"Bushie's" comment is important and exactly on the mark.
A regular tarp is VERY heavy, and is very bulky. The ultra lightweight ones are stronger and lighter and less noisy. If all natural is your thing, parachute silk is an option.
As for towel, travel towel absolutely, or for "all natural" just a cotton facecloth. I've never needed more than this.
and Knot knowledge is horrifyingly dismal especially considering the population who believes themselves to be self sufficient. Even with carabiners and snaps, etc, they get lost, break, aren't handy, whatever. Bowline, trucker's knot, slip, half hitch and double half hitch, at a minimum, should be mastered well enough to be done in the dark/eyes closed, and skip the hardware.
Thank you Bushie for your incisive comment. I second it, all.
I'd only add, multiples of fire starting equipment, in waterproof containers. Matches, flints, etc. Compass, map, watch is all you need to find your location and to navigate. Leave the electronics where they belong, at home, or at least in the car. If one feels one needs them, consider hiring a guide instead, or better yet, just going to a hotel, lol. :D

ghicks1 (author)2012-07-07

Make sure you use slap-straps (as the author notes) to save the trees from damage, but avoid the ENO versions or any other Nylon ones--they will stretch overnight and you'll go to ground unintentionally. Instead, look for the polypropylene or polyester ones. Same holds for para cord--great stuff in general, but not for hammock suspension. Try Lash-it or Zing-it for the tarp (1/16" dia is rated at 450lbs) and 7/64" Amsteel Blue for human loads (rated at about 1600lbs, I think). Instead of carabiners, you can make soft shackles from Amsteel blue, and they'll only weigh a few grams, yet be overly strong. And for ease of setup, I haven't seen anything beat whoopie slings!

macpower (author)2012-05-23

Before kids, my gear consisted of: Ka-bar knife, extra undergarments and a roll of TP (sometimes a small fishing kit), however, you need to realize something about your post. Although this is a great 'ible, there's only one thing I HAVE to add.

The order in which you pack your stuff matters greatly in the wild. I always put the tarp/hammock/tent in the top of the pack because if it's raining/snowing, you need to get that stuff sorted out first. It REALLY makes a difference. I used to pack my sack based on comfort (what I want next to my spine), but going by order of importance has served me much better than focusing on comfort.
Always keep your knife sharp and your feet clean and dry.

jeditanker72 (author)2012-03-19

Nice packing list, and cool set up with your hammock.
As for the sleeping naked thing, it is a crazy rural legend. I slept in a bag for 14 years (off and on, of coarse) in the Army in all conditions. When I was a new private, I bought that line. I froze my butt off in Germany, and not to mention how miserable and awkward it is to get yourself ready when it's time to get up. Especially if you are in snow. Another myth is that Army sleeping bags are the best stuff. I put mine in the garage and use a mountain hardware bag that keeps me comfy in any situation, and packs down to half the size and weight. Regardless, great instructable, and I may try the hammock thing sometime this year hiking.

zazenergy (author)2011-08-23

Very informative, thanks!

Out of curiosity, what type of food to you typically bring on camping trips? I noticed you didn't include a stove or dishes in your list. Do you do mainly granola bars?

trevorcgross (author)zazenergy2011-08-24

You could probably bring canned foods, like 2 a day. Also, fruit cups and granola bars are a good idea, plus Craisins(my favorite), sunflower seeds, and trail mix.
Breakfast: fruit cup(s)
Lunch: canned soup
Dinner: Canned spaghettios
P.S. I'll add in a stove and fuel. (I did include a mess kit, though.)

mrfixr (author)trevorcgross2011-09-09

backpacking with canned food? better bring a wheelbarrow too.

trevorcgross (author)mrfixr2011-09-09

and MRE's if you have a connection with someone in the military, or spend $140 on 12 if you buy them online.

fogman103 (author)trevorcgross2011-11-27

MRE's aren't a good idea b/c they are heavy. Dehydrated meals are better for backpacking.

MRE's aren't that heavy and you could get about 2 meals from one

trevorcgross (author)zazenergy2011-10-07

New idea: Dinty Moore microwave dinners. Dump the food into a pot, and warm it up. 2 minute prep. little waste.

airsoft master 25 (author)2012-02-04


mhuston1 (author)2011-08-23

Army Issue wool blankets are a cheap yet larger alternative to the survival blanket that has alot more uses. We found a set of the army issued hammocks and two wool blankets and two hammocks with our children the size they are now will keep us warm and dry with a poncho and mosquito netting thrown over the top :) We go on survival trips quite regularly so we have done alot of trial and error before taking our kids out.

rangerweavere (author)2011-08-22

you could make the para-cord a belt and wear it at all times just in case and its easier to carry

Good idea, I made a paracord bracelet with a buckle. It has about 6 1/2 feet on it. You could always use more.

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