Backpacking the Pictured Rocks: My Gear List


Today I thought I would share my Pictured Rocks backpacking gear list with you.

While I am by no means an expert, nor do I have an ultralight base weight, I thought sharing my Pictured Rocks backpacking gear list might be a helpful planning tool for those of you who might be backpacking the Pictured Rocks for the first time.

In preparation for our Pictured Rocks backpacking trip, I made a few changes to my gear list from South Manitou Island.  In short, I upgraded my pillow and sleeping pad to allow for more comfortable alignment of my spine, and chose dry bags with wider mouths so they would be easier to dig around in.

Do note that some of the items listed here contain affiliate links.  Should you choose to shop by clicking through my links, I may receive a small commission (like, we’re talking a few cents per item) that will go towards the cost of maintaining this blog at no additional cost to you.  All thoughts and opinions in this post are my own, and I only recommend products that I actually use.  Thank you for your support!

Sleeping System & Pack


Hiking Clothes

Footwear Note:  My boots provided good ankle support and foot protection on the more rocky sections of trail.  Overall, I love these boots for my shorter day hikes, especially when I’m hiking in colder weather or places with a lot of rocks and roots.  That said, with all the wet muddy areas of trail, plus the amount my feet swelled and sweated while hiking 10-12 miles per day, I ended each day’s hike with my feet feeling damp and achy.  If I were to do this hike over again under the same conditions, I might consider hiking in my trail runners.

Camp Clothes



Whether or not “luxury items” (aka: the stuff you want to bring but don’t technically need) are worth their weight depends on one’s personal preferences, the weather and itinerary, and how your group decides to split up carrying shared gear items (if applicable).

For me personally, I love to take photos, and if I sleep in an uncomfortable position I wake up feeling miserable, so a comfortable sleep system and my camera gear is worth its weight to me.

Here are a few small items you might want to (or should) consider bringing along on a backpacking trip.

Toiletry & Hygiene Items:

  • Hand sanitizer or biodegradable soap
  • Toilet paper
  • Travel toothbrush & toothpaste
  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Body Glide or Vaseline (to prevent blisters or friction burns)
  • Baby wipes
  • Chapstick

Other Items:

  • Maps/Permits/Navigation
  • Bear spray
  • Knife
  • Hat
  • Rain cover or contractor bag for pack
  • Plastic bags for trash, organizing items, waterproofing, or to use as gloves while hiking
  • Sunglasses
  • Bug net
  • Extra batteries
  • Hand and foot warmers (colder weather)
  • Carabiner or cable ties
  • Whistle

Gear Tips:

  • Maps: I LOVE this waterproof paper for printing maps, permits, and other important documents.
  • Sleep System: If you don’t own a waterproof stuff sack for your sleeping bag, use a heavy duty contractor bag like this.  Get the 3mil kind, as they’re much more durable than a regular trash bag.
  • Bugs: Treat your clothes, pack, and tent with permethrin spray a few days before your hike to help prevent bugs.  I used this one to treat my gear.  It was pretty easy to apply and I didn’t find any ticks.
  • Long Hair: Originally I had planned on getting one of the tiny foldable hair brushes to take on my backpacking trips.  Long story short, it never really became a priority, so I ended up taking this brush, which I use as my regular hair brush, on my backpacking trips.  It’s probably a bit ridiculous to carry since it isn’t travel sized, but it only weighs 2 ounces and can gently untangle even the most tangled of rat’s nests, so I just go with it.
  • Water: While hiking, I kept two water bottles in the side pockets of my pack.  I attached the third bottle to one of my shoulder straps with one of these things so I could keep it easily accessible when I needed a drink.  To keep it from bouncing around, I used one of those velcro tie straps for keeping wires organized.

Thank you for reading.  I hope you’ve found my Pictured Rocks gear list helpful.  If you’ve visited the Pictured Rocks before and would like to share about your experiences, let me know in the comments below!

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