Backpacking Checklist>>

December 26, 2018

The past couple of years have given me the opportunity to fish a variety of remote mountain lakes and streams from Colorado’s Rockies to the igneous peaks of Southern Utah. In addition to fishing opportunities I’ve hiked and backpacked a number of national parks, national monuments, and large tracts of BLM land. In the process I’ve created a fairly comprehensive list for backpacking and fishing remote areas.


Of course anytime you have to carry all of your gear on your back space will be at a premium. Efficient packing of necessary items is key to not only a successful day of hiking and fishing, but an enjoyable one. There are about four main groups of gear that represent the majority of what anyone would need for a day of remote backpack fishing: fishing gear, food/water, safety, and utility.


Fishing Gear

  • Obviously a fly rod, or two, perhaps a short rod for streams and a longer heavier pole for lakes and reservoirs.

  • Fly reel, or not, if you’re Tenkara fishing.

  • Tippet, leader material, and sink tip leaders; the latter of which can come in handy on deep lakes and sunny days.

  • Flies, the specific type are widely dependent on the area and time of year.

  • Polarized sunglasses

  • Everything else including but not limited to, weights, strike indicators, nippers and floatant.


  • Lunch food; I enjoy canned pork and beans with a bag of pretzels, or the occasional sandwich.

  • Snack food; nutrition bars, nuts, and other high energy small size packets of power are great, quick, and don’t take up much space.

  • For day trips two to four bottles of water should be plenty, but depending on the distance of the hike, or weather you may want to pack more (remember even on cold days it is important to drink water).


  • Any medication you may need, as well as ibuprofen or aspirin can save a rough day on the water.

  • Band-aids are clutch when you fall or slip on some slick rocks.

  • Larger bandages should always be packed in case of a more significant injury.

  • Athletic tape is great for taping up blisters or fixing gear in a pinch.

  • Bear spray, in a mountain environment it's better to be safe than sorry even if you’re feeling lucky.

  • Always pack sunscreen, skin cancer is not a joke.

  • In certain regions, particularly along streams and beaver ponds at altitude mosquitoes can be a pain, packing a small bottle of bug spray may not repel them all, but helps.


  • It never hurts to bring a knife along, I don’t know if I’ve ever used mine for anything significant, but it adds a bit of masculinity to an adventure.

  • A water filter can save your life in the event of an emergency, as well as simply save much needed space and cut back on water weight.

  • Also in case of an emergency packing a whistle can help rescuers find you even in the vast wilderness.

  • Packing a change of clothes (especially socks) can save a day of fishing, particularly in colder months.


Other optional items to pack would be a camera or for those less technologically inclined a sketch pad and pencil. Bringing a friend you can trust can also prove essential to survival, and sanity, but is certainly not required. Overall packing is fairly simple, and so long as you have the fly fishing gear listed above the rest is optional, but excluding it all together is a bit risky.




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