Yosemite Backpacking Essentials

Aug 22, 2023Things to Do, Yosemite National Park

You’ve decided to make Yosemite your next backpacking destination, but what do you need to pack? If you’re going with a group, be sure to check with your leader as they might provide many of the items you’ll need. However, if you’re more of a solo adventurer, this information on Yosemite backpacking essentials is for you. 

To start things off, we need to cover the basics of what every backpacker needs, also known as the Ten Essential Systems. These systems include navigation (both a map & GPS device preferred), effective sun protection, insulation, luminance, first-aid supplies, a firestarter (view fire regulations), a repair kit with tools, food, hydration, and shelter.


What’s Required to Backpack in Yosemite? 

According to the National Parks Service (NPS), Yosemite is nearly 95% designated wilderness. In order to protect these wild places and provide an outstanding hiking experience, wilderness permits are required for all overnight trips. Learn more about this on the NPS website


Where Should I Go? 

With so much land to explore, it can be difficult to decide where to start your backpacking trip. Take a look at the NPS list of backpacking trails to get started and make a note of what trailheads require permits. And of course, do not forget to take a look at the current trail conditions before you head out. 

Pitching Tent for Yosemite Backpacking

What Equipment Should I Bring?

Below is a general idea of what you will need to pack. Companies such as REI hold classes for new backpackers to learn what they need and how to fit it into their pack as well. 

  • Comfortable large backpack (60-90L)
  • Day pack (15-35L)
  • 30 – 50 feet of nylon cord
  • Backpacking tent (1-3 person max)
  • Sleeping bag (check rating and decide which model based on time of year and temperature)
  • Whistle 
  • Multifunctional watch 
  • Multitool/Knife
  • GPS
  • Map
  • Compass
  • Poles (optional, but nice to have)
  • Headlamp with new batteries, plus some extra
  • Water filtering device 
  • Matches/lighter
  • Cookset (stove, fuel, plate, utensils, cup)
  • Firestarter
  • Bear canister 
    • TIP: You can rent one inside the park at the ranger station for a low fee and easy return.


What Should I Wear?

This list is dependent on the time of year you’ve planned your backpacking trip. However, here is a general checklist of what you will need, then tailor these Yosemite backpacking essentials for the temperature.

  • Quick dry clothing (underwear, sports bra, shorts, pants and/or shorts, long underwear, long sleeve top, and tank top)
  • Insulated, small fold jacket
  • Waterproof pants and jacket 
  • Sun protectant hat 
  • Winter hat (if necessary)
  • Gloves (if necessary)
  • Hiking boots
  • Wool socks (multiple pairs)
  • Water shoes/sandals 


Which Personal Items Should I Bring?

You know yourself best, but below is a general list of must-haves that you can tailor accordingly.

  • Sunglasses
  • Water Bottle
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip Balm
  • Biodegradable toothpaste  
  • Toothbrush with cover
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Camp shovel 
  • First aid kit
  • Glasses or spare contacts if needed
  • Biodegradable soap
  • Bug repellent 
  • Small quick dry towel
  • Repair kit
  • Camera (plus extra memory cards and batteries)
  • Credit card and a small amount of cash

What Food Should I Bring?

Bringing food items depends on your nutritional needs and length of stay. However, as a rule of thumb, always bring at least one extra day’s worth of snacks and meals. Click here for ideas on what meals work well when backpacking!

You’re Ready to Hit the Trails

While the checklist of what you need to do and bring for your Yosemite backpacking trip might seem daunting, the effort is more than worth the reward. And if you need a place to stay with a fireplace, shower, and a comfortable place to rest your head, Yosemite Resorts is here for you.