Bring trail food and snacks for quick, easy consumption throughout the day. You generally consume more if you are hard at work or play, so pack a few hundred extra calories if you plan to be active.
Bring a day's worth of emergency rations in case you become lost and have to spend an extra night out or your other food is destroyed or contaminated (if you camp away from civilization).
Backcountry campers should add a water treatment system, filtration unit or purification tablets to their pack. A biodegradable soap or alternative hand cleaner is essential for meal preparation. A mess kit can supply all the basic pans and utensils for a camp meal.
For some, a tarp and blanket are all that is needed, while others would not consider camping without at least a tent for shelter. Hammock tents are a good compromise--pack light and still enjoy some of the amenities of tent camping. They also allow hikers to practice leave-no-trace camping.
Leave your pillow at home and use spare clothing stuffed in a compression bag to rest your head.
Pack only the essentials. Choose clothing items you can wash and wear, fabrics that dry quickly. Technical fabrics are made to stop odor and UV rays and resist tearing. They are used to make clothing specifically for the trail, clothing that keeps you drier and more comfortable and transitions between long and short sleeves.
Pack spare underwear, socks and one change of clothing. Bring two or three bandannas as they are good for first aid, as a handkerchief or washcloth, or for wiping sweat. They can also be used to tie gear to a pack.
Carry safety and security gear such as a dependable fire starter, knife and compass. You should have a map of the area and a topographical map if you plan to hike rough terrain. LED flashlights are a small, lightweight illumination source.
Think ahead. A couple of basic kits can save your bacon if a piece of gear starts to fail: a set of spare parts (ties, fabric patches, a tube of sealant), a sewing kit and a first aid kit containing (at least) essential over-the-counter medicines like ibuprofen, bandages and antibiotic ointment. Many first aid kit contents can be created on the trail if necessary, so heavy cold packs and large bandage rolls are up to the individual to include or discard.
Look for small, trial size bottles of bug spray and sunscreen. These supply two or three people for a week or more if used sparingly. Pack toiletries and personal need items (prescription medication, toilet paper or feminine products) sparingly. Finally, add a couple of garbage bags to carry out trash, separate wet items or act as emergency rain gear.