Hiking Gear (Tested Heavily) for Olympic

This is my overnight hiking gear list of items used on a trip into the Olympic Mountain backcountry. It's important that you bring the Ten Essentials in the mountains, even if it's just for a day hike. Going on a shorter adventure? Check out my day hiking gear suggestions.


What to Bring on an Overnight Hike in Olympic National Park and Forest

The equipment items in my pack variates, depending on amount of nights I will be spending in the backcountry. I sometimes carry up to 15 days of food in the summer; without resupplying.  Again, conditions outside and the trip's purpose protect your dry clothes and gear from getting wet, before heading into the backcountry!

Usually the purpose of my Olympic Peninsula adventures include backcountry photography, fishing, off trail and alpine traverses, so I pack accordingly for those variables. Be sure to check out my guide on recreating on the Olympic Peninsula.

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Olympic Moutains
Camping inside the Olympic Mountains





Overnight Hiking Gear for the Olympic Mountains

Ultralight Tent System

  • Luxe Hexpeak Tipi Tent: A modular tent system. Generally set up in three pieces. Main body (fly), inner tent (mosquito netting) and groundsheet (extra ground moisture protection). Chose a pyramid shaped tipi tent, because I prefer to stay in high exposed campsites. Additionally, they are good at shedding wind, rain and snow. Depending on the type of trip and conditions. I can bring two pieces or use all three. Learn more? Read my full Hexpeak tipi review.

  • 3 Piece Trekking Pole: Using walking sticks that break into several sections, make it easy to story inside a backpack. It also is the center pole of the tent.

  • Groundsheet: Use Warm-n-Dry Tent Groundsheets an ultralight footprint. Measure and cut with scissors the same shape as the bottom of your tent. This is highly beneficial, to prevent ground heat loss and moisture coming through the bottom of your tent. Using this will keep you cozy while you sleep.

  • V-Tent Stakes: Using tent stakes is necessary to hold up a non-free standing shelter, such as my pyramid tent. I found that the V shape, holds in the Olympic Mountain ground the best. Additionally, they are lightweight enough to carry in my pack.

Sleeping in the Woods

  • Marmot Sleeping Bag: The Olympic Peninsula is a wet and cold place, this goes for summer too. Generally, I plan for it to reach freezing in camp at night, even in the warmest months. Nothing worse than being cold at night.

  • EVA Foam Sleeping Pad: I use an extra sleeping pad to protect my air mattress against poaking a hole. Additionally, sleeping on foam will keep you warmer while you sleep. EVA is also very ultra-lightweight.

  • Klymit Air Mattress: I chose spend the night on an air mattress to help with sleeping on rocks. It is lightweight and comfortable to sleep on. It deflates easy and stores perfectly in my backpack. Make sure you do not overinflate the mattress, to help with sliding and tossing while you sleep.

Lightweight Backpack

  • Seek Outside Divide Pack: This is an external frame backpack for carrying heavy loads (food and camera equipment). I chose this pack for its comfort while hiking for extended periods in Olympic. It uses military grade fabric on the main body and rated to carry loads of 100 lbs (I've carried 80 pounds). The two side pockets make it easy to reach your water while hiking, without removing the pack off your back.

  • Trash Compactor Bag: I use trash bags to protect my sleeping bag, camera gear and clothes from the rain. They are lightweight and cost practically nothing. Line your the inside of your pack with the bag, put in items and twist to close, then stuff the twisted end into itself; forming a seal.


Trail Hydration

  • Sawyer Water Filter: This form of water treatment screws on the end of my water bottle. I simply fill up my bottle with dirty water, screw on water filter and then I can drink from any mountain stream. Very lightweight at only 3 ounces.


Food in the Backcountry

  • Kovea Spider Stove: This is a remote canister stove that performs well in winter condtions. Additionally, the burner lets you have a really low flame, which makes it easier to cook real food; just like at home. The stove folds almost into itself and is can be easily stored inside my pot.

  • Evernew Titanium Pot: I bring different size pots for different kinds of trips. Generally, I bring a 1.3 liter pot, if I'm going to cooking real food or for more than a single person. My stove and other items fit easily inside the pot while hiking.

  • Baking Pan Insert: Sometimes, when I'm doing more of a relazing camping trip, I bring an aluminum pan insert for my cook pot. This allows for me to dry bake in the backcountry. This system acts as a little oven, just like at home. You can cook anything from brownies to pizza!

  • Long Handle Spoon: Using a long handle spoon is almost a necessity for survival in the woods. This is especially important if you are eating out of a pouch. The extra length prevents you from getting gunk on your hands, while eating food at the bottom of the bag. Tip: Tie something bright at the end of the spoon, because they are easy to lose.

  • Bear Canister: Food storage containers are required in most places in Olympic National Park. They keep mice, raccoons, birds and black bears out of your food at night. A canister also make a great camp seat!


Minimalist Trail Footwear

  • Luna Sandals: I prefer to hike in minimalist sandals for every adventure (exept steep terrain mountaineering). It rains a lot on the Olympic Peninsula, so walking in a sandal makes dealing with wet conditions super simple. Walk through water and your feet will dry more efficiently, because they can breathe easily. The Vibram sole does an awesome job at gripping slippery surfaces as well!

  • Wool Toe Socks: I wear merino wool socks with my minimalist footwear, to prevent foot issues in wet conditons. Using footwear for long wet periods will cause skin irritation and eventually break down. Using wool will help this not to happen. Dry's fast and it's easy to clean in the backcountry.

  • Vibram Fivefingers: Also referred to as toe shoes, Fivefingers are pretty much gloves for your feet. They will break down relatively fast in the backcountry, so I tend to use them only on steep off trail terrain and mountaineering on steep snow. Fivefingers are very lightweight, so also make a great camp-shoe for any hiker!


Rain Protection

  • Hiking Umbrella: I bring my umbrella no matter the weather conditions. Using this tool has saved my butt many times in the worst of rain storms. This is especially beneficial for rainforest hikes, where it can rain several inches in a day. Additionally, the shade provides sun protection while hiking above treeline. Don't leave home without one!

  • Frogg Toggs Rain Gear: I have been using this lightweight rain jacket for several years. You can not beat it for the cost. It does a wonderful job at repelling water and moderate breathability. You can literally roll the jacket up and put it in your pocket. Trail tested during many storms in the Pacific Northwest. I would never suggest people buying name brand costly rain gear, when this does the same thing and arguably better.


Photography Equipment for Hiking

  • Fuji XT-1 Mirrorless: I use a Fuji camera for its supurb image quality. The body is not so lightweight, but I justify it, by the kind of photography I am doing. Without getting to technical, it just works for me!

  • Carbon Tripod: Using a tripod is required for doing certain kinds of photography. I tend to shoot dramatic landscapes and/or long exposures, so using keeping the camera motionless is critical. I chose this particular tripod for its weight and ability to store easy in my backpack.


Wilderness Fishing

  • Tenkara Fly Fishing Pole: Fishing in Olympic National Park is a blast. Something spiritual about being in the backcountry and being one-on-one with the river or lake. Unfortunately, most of the Park is catch and release. So make sure you know the regulations, before throwing your line into the water.




Olympic Peninsula Adventure Planning

  • Guides to Hiking the Peninsula: Pre-trip plan can often be more challenging than the trip itself. A hikers should always know the weather forecast, carry a detailed map and compass, before heading out the door on any adventure. Knowing the mileage and how technical the terrain is going to be, is also crucial. Always have a plan and tell someone at home about it!



mountain camping
High overnight camping in the Olympic Mountains



(Overnight Hiking) Being Prepared for Bad Weather

The Peninsula can have very unpredictable weather; even in the summer. I always base my packing list off of a worse case scenario concept. Many times I've woke up to below freezing conditions in September; which is the annual peak in good weather. It is not uncommon for a year around threat of bad systems to move in off the Pacific Ocean. This may lead to a few inches of rain in a 24 hour period. A hiker must be prepared of this reality. Always bring rain protection when hiking! Going out in cold weather? Check out this bad weather gear list!





Camping in the Wilderness Backcountry

This checklist will alter by case-by-case basis. Example: Backpacking during a weekend, will have separate needs to a hike across the Olympic National Park. It's important that you familiarize yourself in fair conditions, so what you are prepared for what mother nature's hands you. Always check the weather forecast before heading out the door. Stay safe out there!


Looking to camp not as lightweight? Check out my traditional overnight backpacking gear list!


Updated in September 2017 by Barefoot Jake