How to pack light for 5 days in the wilderness

This Friday we are traveling to the northern Finland to spend 5 days in the Lapland wilderness. The destination is a national park  called ‘Urho Kekkosen Kansallispuisto’ or ‘Urho Kekkonen National Park’ in English. The area is huge, (about 2550 sq. km) and one of the largest wilderness areas in the whole Europe. There you can easily get really far away from the nearest road or other modern conveniences.

The park is located well above the arctic circle, so even in August the weather may be cold. At the moment the forecasts show night time temperatures as low as -4*C. We are planning to hike a route using wilderness cabins, but we also carry a tent in case we have to sleep outside, or there are other backpackers using the cabins. The daily walking distance will be about 20km which is not too much, but we still want to keep our backpacks as light as possible to be able to enjoy the trip even more.

Below I have compiled a basic list of items i usually pack for this type of 5 days / 4 nights backpacking trip.


These basic items are all the essential items for safety, hygiene, sleeping and eating. There are some luxury items (like the pillow case) and some items that are not essential (camera). I will not carry any rain cover for the backpack. All items that must stay dry will be packed into the dry sacks or resealable plastic bags. That way I can also keep the pack organized.

Tent – Mountain Hardwear Skyledge 2.1 (2250g)

This is a good lightweight 2-person tent for 3 season backpacking. We also carry a footprint to protect the tent in rough terrain. There is just enough room for two people to sleep comfortably and store the packs in the vestibule.

Sleeping Pad – Therm-a-Rest Prolite (520g)

– Nice and comfortable sleeping pad that is lightweight enough to carry on a trip  like this. Packs really small.

Sleeping Bag – Marmot Atom (690g)

– Lightweight 3-season down insulated sleeping bag that is rated at about 10°C. It may get colder on this trip but the I’ll just add some layers of clothing.

Coocking system – JetBoil (420g) + 230g Can Of Primus Gas  (390g)

– Jetboil is a compact and fast cooking system for backpacking. All parts can be packed inside the cup and the heat sink design saves gas.

Bottle – Nalgene 1L (180g)

– Wide-mouth bottle is the best as you can easily fill it from the streams and pour boiling water from the Jetboil cooking system. Nalgene bottle can also be used as a measuring cup and is easy to clean.

MealKit – Light My Fire Mealkit + Spork (280g)

– This set includes everything you need for eating a quick lunch. The cup can be used for for hot drinks and the two plates for food. I also carry two sporks.

Trekking Poles – Black Diamond Ultra Distance (300g)

– These ultralight trekking poles weight about the same as one regular trekking pole. The handy Z-pole design also takes less space when folded. True lifesavers when carrying a pack in hard terrain.

Multitool – Leatherman Squirt PS4 (60g)

– Small and lightweight tool for fixing gear and cutting small stuff. Not for serious survival but enough for most situations.

Watch – Suunto Core All Black (65g)

– Perfect watch for traveling. The watch has all the regular time and date features + altimeter/barometer + compass + thermometer. Very handy for monitoring the temperature inside the tent or checking the altitude gains while walking. The watch also tells you the sunset and sunrise times which makes it easy to plan your day.

Emergency Mobile Phone – Nokia 1100 (90g)

– This is a super simple and lightweight water resistant mobile for emergencies. The battery will easily last for a week and I use a pre-paid number, so I will not be disturbed by people calling me. Only important people know the number.

Camera – Canon EOS 550D + 15-85mm lens (1200g)

– An SLR camera is not an essential item but I like to take pictures, and always carry a camera with me. If you are not that interested in photography it may be better to get a smaller and lighter compact camera.

Camera bag – LowePro Offtrail 1 (290g)

– Good camera bag for a medium sized SLR camera. Comfortable to wear on your hip where you’ll always have access to  the camera.

Towel – MSR Packtowl UltraLite (100g)

– Fast drying and light travel towel.

Pillow case – Therm-a-Rest Pillow Case (60g)

– No need to carry a real pillow – I will fill this soft pillow case with extra clothing.

Dry Sacks – 3 x Sea To Summit Ultra-Sil (165g)

– I use three different dry sacks; one for the camera, one for clothing and one for all the small extra gear that needs to stay dry.

First Aid – Tatonka First Aid Mini + extras (170g)

– This kit includes all the basic items for a simple first aid kit. I have also included some strong and mild pain killers, imodium, tick pliers, snake bite medicine and Compeed for blisters.

Headlamp – Petzl Tikka 2 (80g)

Lighter (25g)

Map (65g)

Compass (30g)

Credit Card + ID Dard + Some cash (15g)

Dishwashing liquid & sponge (30g)

Few carabiners (65g)

Napkins for toilet paper (170g)

Tootbrush + small tube of toothpaste (50g)

Small deodorant (40g)

Lip balm (15g)

Liquid soap for hair & body (70g)

Mosquito repellent (50g)



We are expecting temperatures from -5°C to +20°c so dressing in layers is necessary. It will also probably rain at some point so a rain jacket and fast drying long hiking pants are essential. The Lapland is notorious for it’s mosquitoes so the mosquito hat is needed especially near rivers, swamps and lakes.

Hiking boots – Columbia Newton Ridge WP (1000g)

– These are basic waterproof and light hiking boots for different terrains. I actually bought these from an outlet store and they were quite cheap. No complaints yet!

Camp Shoes –  flip flops (150g)

– I found these fake flip flops from China and bought them because they are super lightweight. I use them at the camp or when crossing rivers.

Rain Jacket – The North Face Venture (350g)

– Great and simple shell for wet and cold days. Has all the features you need from a shell and does not cost much.

Hiking Pants – Lafuma (285g)

– Lightweight and fast drying hiking pants that have zippers above the knees, so these pants can also be used as shorts. Protects from mosquitoes and can also be used in rain. No need to carry an extra set of rain pants.

Long Sleeve Fleece – Mountain Hardwear Micro Chill Zip Tee (240g)

– Warm and comfortable long sleeve fleece for layering.

Mosquito hat – Columbia (75g)

– Handy hat that includes a mosquito net and also protects from the sun.

2 x T-shirts – Columbia (340g)

– Basic fast-drying t-shirts. One to wear and one to carry in the bag.

2 x Hiking Sock – Columbia (145g)

– Two pairs of thinner hiking sock. These will keep my feet dry and comfortable even when they get wet.

2 x Basic Underwear (140g)

Long Underwear – Helly Hansen (290g)

Buff (35g)

Warm hat – Mountain Hardwear Micro Dome Beanie (25g)

Gloves – Mountain Hardwear liners (50g)



This food selection is calculated only for one person, so if you are not going alone, take at least double the amount listed here. I don’t prepare any meals beforehand or dry any foods by myself, so this list is mostly ready made easy meals and snacks. Maybe not the most delicious but easy, light and fast. These are planned for a trip lasting 5 days / 4 nights and the total calorie intake per day is around 2000 kcal.

5 x Chcolate bars – for quick energy while moving (325g)

5 x Instant noodles – for quick lunch on the trail (380g)

5 x Instant pasta meal – for dinner at the camp, includes 2 small portions per bag (495g)

5 x Hot chocolate – for breakfast (95g)

1 x Bag of mixed peanuts – for quick energy while moving (200g)

1 x Bag of raisins – for quick energy while moving (130g)

5 x Instant soups – for quick lunch on the trail (80g)

1 x Box of cookies – for snack (340g)

5 x Bread rolls – for breakfast or dinner (460g)

5 x Instant porridge – for breakfast (195g)

5 x Tea bags (15g)

1 x Tube of black pepper (25g)

1 x Mixed Chili Spices (25g)



Backpack – Mountain Hardwear South Col 70 (1750g)

– All the above items will fit into this backpack. The bag is comfortable, simple and lightweight. Can be used for traveling, mountaineering and everything in between. I have the medium size that fits 70 liters of gear. I use only about 60 liters of space.

The total weight of the pack  including 1L of water will be under 13 KG. The total weight of items I will be wearing (including the camera) will be under 3,5 KG. Lightweight but still comfortable. I will post a trip report and photos from the trip later. See you!


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  1. Konner says:

    I guess packing “light” is subjective. That is not at all light packing for 5 days in the wilderness.

    • Joonas says:

      We had nothing extra and this indeed is packing “light but comfortable”, not ultralight minimalism.

  2. Konner says:

    Your food sources should provide you with at least 20% of your dv of protein! it’s not just all carbs and fats

    • Joonas says:

      We took only “dry” foods so the protein intake is not probably the same it would be outside the woods.

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