Download: Backpacking Gear Planner 2.0

Here is the new version of my Free Backpacking Gear Planner Spreadsheet.

This tool helps you quickly and easily design a complete backpacking gear list in minutes… without having to do any of the math or complicated calculations yourself.

Version 2.0 includes new advanced features and more customization options.

Backpacking Gear Planner 2.0 Video Tutorial

Watch this video to see the new Gear Planner 2.0 in action!

*Important: You must own a copy of Microsoft Excel in order to use the Backpacking Gear Planner Spreadsheet. Microsoft Excel is part of the Microsoft Office Suite of programs.

FREE DOWNLOADS:

* Join my Free Backpacking Tips Newsletter at the top of the page to download my Colorado Trail Gear List in Microsoft Excel and Adobe PDF format (plus 3 more bonus gear lists).

If you have questions or comments, please post in the comments section below.

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78 Responses to “Download: Backpacking Gear Planner 2.0”

  1. You have listened to your customers
    You have paid attention to details
    You have made this user friendly

    The results can be summed up in one word

    PERFECT

    • There seems to be a bug in your gear planner guide. The pie charts are not coming up only gogglegook.

      • @Anthea: Thanks for the heads up. I have uploaded a new version where the pie charts should work correctly. DOWNLOAD IT HERE

        • Sorry I still am getting the same mixed up piecharts

          • @Anthea: Make sure the file you are getting is named: Gear-Planner-V2-Final.xls (that is the new one)

            In the pie chart: The category labels will overlap (making them unreadable) to start with, because there are empty categories and the paper-thin slices are occupying the same area in the chart. As you fill out the categories with your gear and weights the pie chart should update. Once there is at least one entry in the weight column for each category the pie chart should display correctly.

  2. Erik,
    Outstanding. Best gear planning spreadsheet anywhere. Thanks.

    Dave

  3. Erik,

    This spreadsheet is awesome!! Really user friendly.

    btw – i’m really looking forward to reading your books when they are released :)

  4. Erik,
    You think just like I do, but you actually produce amazing products that follow your thinking!

    I thought my Excel gear spreadsheet was pretty cool and all inclusive but yours takes gear planning and weight & price calculating to another level! You are a great ambassador for the long-distance hiking community and a saint for providing such a great tool free of charge. Thank you! Much appreciated.
    Mike

  5. Erik,

    I am mostly a day hiker, but put in some epic day hikes from before sunrise to well after dark. I bring more than I need thinking to be prepared in case I have to spend the night. This spreadsheet clarifies and simplifies where I can trim and what I should consider as my best lightest weight. Thank you for helping me better organize my excursions.

  6. Is it possible to get an unlocked version of this GREAT Planning tool spreed sheet? This thing is fantastic. I would like to be able to view the formulas and possibly expand on it for my personal use.
    What a great planning idea!

  7. Thanks guys, I’m glad you like the new Gear Planner. If you use it to create any gear lists you would like to share with the public I’d be happy to host them here on the website for people to download (or if you have your own web hosting you can just post a link here in the comments).

    @Dave: I don’t plan to release an unlocked version because I spent a lot of time designing this and I want to protect that. However, if there are features you would like to see added to a future version let me know. I plan to keep making improvements based on user feedback.

  8. Excellent planner, i have one request. I use OpenOffice and everything works, except the check boxes to turn the lines on and off. Any way you can get these working in OpenOffice as well? Quite a few people are using it these days as an alternative to excel since its free. thanks.

  9. I can’t seem to get this to work. There are only 4 coljums and evrything is bunched in the middle. Help please :)

    -Thanx-

    • @Sevens: Try re-downloading the spreadsheet. The file may have gotten corrupted during the download. If it still doesn’t work correctly then it’s most likely a compatibility problem with the software you’re using to edit it.

  10. A work around for OpenOffice users to the checkbox issue:

    Tools > Protect Document > Sheet (yes open office doesn’t seem to maintain excel document protections)

    then drag out Column A and you can manually change the preferences of =TRUE() and =FALSE() to activate or disable the lines.

    Hope this help until the Grand Master Excel Wiz Erik fiddles with OpenOffice.

  11. The spreadsheet does what it is supposed to very well, and it makes my planning a lot easier, as well as showing me where i could and should save weight.

    I had one issue with it that is minor in theory, yet becomes rather aggravating while i plan: when i scroll it only scrolls the part where i enter data on items to be packed, which left me with about 4-5 bars that i could scroll, this may have been so that you could see the chart at all times but it is a major hassle, any ideas f how to remedy this?

    • @Russell: The top pane is frozen so that it will remain in view while you make changes to the spreadsheet. But I can create a modified version that will scroll up so you can see more lines at once. I will work on that as soon as I get a free minute and post it here.

  12. I just downloaded your gear planner, and was very excited to load it up. When I opened it, in my up to date excel, line 4 was huge. Which wouldnt be a problem but now all I can see is 5 lines of info. I was wondering if you could help me out. I would love to use your program, but right now its not suitable for my needs.

  13. My trail brother. You just made my life much easier. I do this manually on scratch paper and obviously with no graphical overview. I really appreciate your efforts combining cost/weight/gear decisions and “what if” all in one convenient document. I’m Glacier bound and this makes planning comprehensive. Here’s to the next camp at a beautiful tarn! Thanks.

  14. Erik,
    Thanks loads for the spreadsheet. For the first time ever I have managed to get my gear list off of scraps of paper and into an easy to use document. I am forever grateful.
    Shelly

  15. This is awesome, but is there a way to change it to grams instead of unces. and GBP instead of USD.
    Thanks

  16. Thanks Erik. Exactly what I needed. I am totally disorgainized, so this will really help….vicky

  17. Great planning tool. As usual, you have thought of everything and yet have kept it simple. A couple of important bugs hang in there despite three downloads and some repeated testing on MS Excel 2007. The ounces can’t be entered in any section other than the first (Packing) section.
    Unable to deselect the “ground cloth” item – pressing the check adds or removes the “shelter” checkmark but the gc remains checked at all times.
    i’m looking forward to using this planner more. I hope the feedback is helpful.
    JOrdan

  18. @Jordan I just re-downloaded the spreadsheet and I’m able to enter the weight in all of the categories correctly. Are you sure you are trying to enter the weight in the right place and not in a cell that is locked?

    Excel doesn’t do a good job of focusing mouse clicks, which makes it easy to check the wrong item (even when your pointer is in the right place). If you zoom in and you can get better accuracy on the check boxes.

  19. Hi Erik,

    Thanks for the new spreadsheet, I really like the improvements and you are the best at synthesizing and communicating information!

    Couple of issues I hope you don’t mind me pointing out. 1) I agree with Russell, would be nice to have choice to reduce or hide the charts. 2) When I clicked on 1 to try and look at the summary it said that the sheet was protected and I couldn’t access this functionality.

    Maybe… you should relegate the charts to the summary and print out (of course), but for data entry you enable all of the cells?!

    Thanks again for all your great information. t.

  20. Erik, happend across your videos on YouTube while searching for help-hint on how to properly pack a backpack. I’ve done some hikes and a few high altitude as well. I appreciate your tips and the simpleness of the gear. You have provided some ideas I hadn’t even considered when packing light. Seems like I alway try to take the kitchen sink in preparation for the elements. I’ve downloaded the documents you have provided and plan on starting afresh with the weight issue and taking only the essentials.

    Thanks again. I will continue reading your blog for more great ideas.

    Jonathan

  21. Hi there
    The spreadsheet looks good but
    I have a little problem, Where I live we count in Kilograms not in pounds
    1kg = 1000g
    I have problem using the spreadsheet when it is like that
    The USD I can go with but it would look nicer with “kr”
    I sthis something you can do anything about?

    Best regards

    Mats

    • @Mats It’s not possible currently to do the weights in grams/kilograms instead of ounces/pounds. But I will keep that option in mind for a future version of the spreadsheet.

  22. Is there any chance of getting a UK version of this planner. It’s a great tool, but with the prices in Dollars and the weight in pounds, it doesn’t work so well for me

    • @Chris I don’t have time to modify the spreadsheet for other currencies but I have recently unlocked it, so if you know Excel you are welcome to modify the formulas yourself to suit your needs. The password is “Secret”.

  23. Hi Erik,

    I’ve modified the excel for use in the UK now. It actually only took about 10 minutes as the metric weight system is a lot simpler. There is no need for all the complex functions you had to use with pounds and ounces.

    If you would like me to send you the UK version to upload to your site, let me know how I can get it to you.

    Thanks

    Chris

    • @Chris: Cool! I always suspected there must be an easier way to do the pounds + ounces calculation but wasn’t sure how to pull it off. You can email it to me at erik at blackwoodspress.com – Thanks!

  24. @Erik
    I have converted it to metric in Open Office if you need it,I can email it

  25. Chris’s UK version is now available to download (scroll up, the link is under the American version).

    @Mats Thanks for doing the Open Office version. Please send it to me at erik-at-blackwoodspress.com and I’ll add it to the downloads section.

  26. It is possible to make a Google Docs version? Thanks.

    • @Bo Sun: I am not familiar with Google Docs spreadsheet software. I don’t know if it can handle the advanced calculations and formulas required. But if it can, and there is an easy way to convert an Excel spreadsheet to Google Docs format, and someone wants to do the conversion, I will be happy to host it here.

  27. Erik,
    Thanks for making such a great resource available to your readers. Not only is this spreadsheet amazing, but I find your blog articles and videos informative and very creative. I will be reading your blog faithfully for now on.
    Best regards,
    Greg

  28. Have you got a mac spreadsheet version?

  29. FYI, I use a Mac with MS Office 2011. When I downloaded, it didn’t work quite right (check boxes missing). Then I saved it as .XLSX (latest excel format) and it worked perfectly. Just a tip for others. Thanks for a POWERFUL planning tool.

  30. Love the idea of charts! Just added them to my lists. Helps show the scouts what’s going on visually. Smokin’ idea.

    Just came across your blog yesterday via Redwood Outdoors. You have a great site! Thanks for all your controbutions to ULBP.

  31. Running your spreadsheet in Windows 7. Looks great, but selecting/deselecting is problematic. It always seems to select the row *above* the one I want. I tried “zooming” per one of the comments I found here, but when I zoom I can’t get past the pie charts! This is Microsoft Office Excel 2007. Any ideas?

    Thanks for doing this. This is going to be great when the bugs are worked out!

  32. Erik,

    First of all thanks for the gear planner – best one I’ve found so far – well thought out and complete. One suggestion might be to add an additional checkbox that allows you to mark a piece of gear as shared and devides the weight accordingly.

    Love the site and thanks again for all of your hard work, it’s appreciated!

  33. Wow! I packed my pack like I was going camping for a week, then unpacked it and put each little thing in the spreadsheet. Before I was done with cooking, I noticed the base weight over 20 pounds and thought “I never knew how much crap I carried”. Using this, I was able to whittle my weight down by removing unnecessary items and replacing most of the stuff with lightweight alternatives. I managed to get my base weight down below 12 lbs, even counting the gadgets I take. I cannot wait to (slowly) acquire all the gear on my list and start going lightweight. I never noticed a problem before, but being able to cut my base weight in half is just huge and will definitely make a difference on the trail.

  34. A suggestion if you plan on moving to 3.0 version of this tool; a print option for a checksheet that only has those items you have checked.
    It’s a little cleaner to read and would save on paper if printing out checksheets or just reviewing items on the screen during packout. I thought about doing it as an extra tab for you, then I remembered how much I hate working with macros in excel and decided against it.

  35. Erik,

    Leaving for JMT 9/10/12 and had question about bear canister. I know it’s needed in Yosemite but do I need to have one on any other part of the trail? Leaving from TM and 1st night at Thousand Island Lake which is in Ansel Adams Wilderness. Trying to avoid taking one…

    Thanks and sorry for posting here. Didn’t know wher else to leave message.

    • @Patrick: Here is a link to a map showing the areas where bear canisters are required as opposed to suggested:
      http://sierrawild.gov/bears/food-storage-map

      Most hikers carry a canister for the entire trip because the logistics of swapping it out is a pain in the butt. Another option (which I haven’t tried but seems like it would work in theory) is to plan your itinerary so that you always spend the night at campsites with bear boxes in the sections where canisters are required. But you should should do something to protect your food (hang, bear box, bear canister) even in the areas where it’s not required because there are bears in every part of the trail.

      Good luck and have a great hike!

  36. Hi, love the spreadsheet! Just curious, what is the stuff at the top of the pie charts?

  37. Hi Erik,

    I planning a thru PCT hike in april 2013. (my 1st hike, ever)
    I trying to grasp the light weight issue. If I am carrying 7 days of food at 4000 calories a day at 100 calories per OZ of food, that’s 17.5 LBS of food plus 16 LBS of water; over 30 LBS food and water. Plus the gear. I don’t get it…yet.

    Can you shed some light for me?

    • @Steve Kaiser: On the PCT you won’t need to carry seven days of food or eight liters of water that often. It is only necessary when the towns are more than 100 miles apart and the water sources are more than 30 miles apart (which only happens a few times). The section where hikers usually carry the most weight is the Sierras, due to carrying extra gear (like ice axe, bear canister, some warmer clothes, etc.) The other part where you will find yourself carrying a lot of weight is a few places in SoCal where you have to do big water carries of 6-8 liters.

      But, for the majority of the trail most hikers pack 4-5 days of food between resupply stops and carry 2-4 liters of water at a time.

      100 calories an ounce is a good theoretical goal to shoot for when planning trail food. But in practice most thru-hikers don’t hit the mark. So we hike at a calorie deficit and then pig out in towns to make up the difference. 2 – 2.5 pounds of food a day is pretty standard. If you are a really big eater like me you may venture into the 3 lb territory, but anything more than that is usually too heavy.

      Here are a couple of theoretical examples of how your pack weight will vary throughout the trip:

      Scenario #1: You find yourself mid-way between resupply points on a nice day. In your pack is 2.5 days of food (5 pounds), 2 liters of water (4 pounds) and 12 pounds of gear. Your total pack weight is 21 pounds (lightweight and comfy).

      Scenario #2: You find yourself just coming out of town with a fresh resupply on a hot day. In your pack is 5 days of food (10 pounds), 6 liters of water (12 pounds) and 12 pounds of gear. Your total pack weight is 34 pounds. A bit hefty, but still manageable (and it will lighten up as you go).

      Scenario #3: You just hiked five days and are almost to the next town. In your pack is half a day of food (1 pound), 1 liter of water (2 pounds) and 12 pounds of gear. Your total pack weight is 15 pounds and you are skipping and whistling as you walk :)

      Good luck planning your hike. If you have any more questions feel free to ask.

  38. Great Spreadsheet really hits the mark Thanks for all your doing much appreciated I am planning to Section Hike the PCT in 2013 (can’t get Off work to do it all in one shot)so this will really add to my planning arsenal again Thanks

  39. I live about 100 miles from Samurai Joe so I went up to check out his gear. He invited me on a 56 mile AT hike at Fontana Dam. I went. It was my first hike ever. Since I’ve been researching my ass off, I quick ordered my Circuit Pack (gave you props for recommending with Chris), Leki poles (they’re awesome). Got my tarp tent and quilt from Zpacks. (samurai Joe).

    I should have gotten name since I fell off of the top level of the shelter at the Fontana hilton the first night. I did 16 miles the first day, 12 the second, then got a room. I am proud of my 28 miles, though.

    I’m still planning on through hiking the PCT in April. Hope to meet you. Steve

  40. Love the spreadsheet and everyone I show it to really likes it as well and some have even downloaded it after I showed it to them.

    Couple of questions.

    1. Is there a way to add a column for just manufacturer and then the other column would be the item description.
    2. There appears to be an incompatibility with the Excel version for Mac and the Excel version for Windows. I have the Mac version and cannot get the 1 and 2 click option (top left-hand side of spread sheet to work. It gives me an error saying “you cannot use this command on a protected sheet”.
    3. I noticed whenever I try to do a cut and paste of the contents of a cell (if I am trying to move something from one section to another), it corrupts the weight totals (changes to #REF) and if I accidentally save this I cannot get it and have to start over. It also corrupts where the little arrow boxes are displayed. It took me several times before I discovered what I was doing to corrupt the spreadsheet. I am now on my third version and am very careful anytime I am moving anything around.

    Other than that, it is working great and I really appreciate all of you efforts and allowing others to enjoy the fruits of your labors. Being a programmer myself, I know how much work goes into these things.

    Thanks and have a blessed day,
    Frederick

  41. Popped back, after a couple of months of doing adjustments to my kit. And found the metric version – many thanks!
    I’ve always joined groups that only gather on the spot, and hence sharing items (at the planning stage) has not been “a problem”. Now there will be two of us from the same household and a whopping 30% of (my) skin-out weight is in shared items. So the 15 to off-load beats any of my Big Three (15-12-12 %)!
    The question was raised in Feb, I noticed, but the only way to deal with that I found was to do corresponding “minus” entries under OTHER.Minuses don’t carry thru to summaries, but at least they are displayed on the list, so a great help

  42. Thank you Eric! Thanks also for making this available for free. My friends and I are hiking in Corsica for 5 days and we are complete beginners. This tool is super helpful for me and included items which I hadn’t even thought of.

    Best wishes for your future hiking adventures!
    Todor

  43. Put it on my Asus tablet and Kingsoft that comes with it lets me use any field, like price which I already know for my gear, for commenting.

    A good job, tried the earlier version on a PC.

  44. Great resource! Something to consider: It’s great to be able to include all your gear inventory and then check the items you plan on bringing, based on seeing their impact to weight. That’s what I need. So it would be really useful to find a way to make it possible to add rows (using named cells so you can still grab totals, e.g.) or to at least include a bunch of hidden rows we can un-hide as needed. Thanks for your consideration!

  45. I would be willing to pay someone for a mac version of this. This is exactly what I need. Do you or anyone know where to find a gear list for a mac’s numbers?

  46. This is a great resource to figure out weight and price. My only problem is that it won’t add up the base pack weight total pack weight and the skin out weight. Is there a secret to get this to work?

    • @Kyle: There is no need to add those three figures because ‘total pack weight’ includes the base weight and ‘skin-out weight’ includes the total pack weight.

      Base weight = gear only
      Total pack weight = gear + consumables
      Skin-out weight = gear + consumables + items worn or carried

      • I think he is referring to the cells for the Base weight , Total Pack Weight and Skin are not working. I looked at the spreadsheet unlocked and it appears the equations are referring to the incorrect cells for the sum function.

        • @Kyle & Chris: You guys are right. Apparently this whole time I had an earlier incomplete version of the spreadsheet uploaded to the website. I kept checking my local copy (of the final version) to make sure it worked correctly, and it did, but that wasn’t the one you were getting. My mistake. I’ve uploaded the final version now. If you download the new file hopefully everything should be working correctly.

  47. I’ve just down loaded the file and it will not let me enter the details as its saying its locked, I am using it on a tablet.
    Thank you

    • @Simon: This spreadsheet was created before tablets became popular, so I don’t know how it will work on one. You can try unlocking the sheet in Microsoft Excel (Tools > Protection > Unprotect Sheet). If prompted for a password enter “Secret”. Once unlocked just be careful not to accidentally overwrite any of the cells containing formulas or it may break the functionality. Good luck.

  48. Thanks Erik. Great spreadsheet. I just found it today and you saved me an hour or so or work tonight!

  49. Great resource! I have used this on my PC without any errors but whenever I try to use in on Google Docs the pie charts overlap the Packing & Shelter section making it nearly unusable and there is no check boxes to select or deselect items. It would be great if this spreadsheet could be updated for use with Google Docs. This would make it so simple to share and collaborate your gear list online.

  50. Looks like an incredible tool.
    I can not get it to scroll.
    I have the top and see the line below the pies then cant get it past that to start entering data.

  51. Went to download your backpacker gear planner 2.0 but my computer stopped me asking if it was safe. Hence the question as to the safety of your downloads. Thanks!
    By the way I love all the info on your website and videos. Nice work!

    • @Brian: The file is just an excel spreadsheet (not an executable file like a program) so I am not sure why your security software would flag it. Perhaps they are just being overly conservative. As far as I know the file is safe.

  52. Erik…thanks for the spreadsheet. Awesome!
    I thought when I opened it that it was a defective file because I couldn’t see the lines to enter info and I couldn’t scroll down.

    However, when I first opened it in Excel, it was at something like 150-160% zoom level (lower right of screen). I clicked it down to 120% and was able to see the first few lines to enter info and could scroll through the categories.

    It had me stumped for a while so thought this might help someone else. Thanks again.

  53. What an awesome, easy to use, very helpful spreadsheet thanks so much Erik!

  54. Brilliant spreadsheet! Thanks so much for your time and effort Erik – the perfect tool, now all i need is to physically chuck all the crap out of my backpack so it goes from 8.8kg to 6.5kg! :-D

  55. Hey Erik, thank you for your spreadsheet and all of your excellent info. I’ll be doing the JMT for the first time in a couple of months (assuming there’s still water), and your info and tools are completely revolutionizing the way I’ve always backpacked (15 years of smaller trips with lots of weight). The spreadsheet has already shown me how much (over)weight I have been, and I love the weight:cost.

    I’m buying a Catalyst today. I like tents > tarps, so may end up with a Big Agnes UL of some kind. Any suggestion on quilts?

    Whatever, thanks a lot!

  56. Thank you! Spreadsheet and articles really helped me get my head around my first backpacking trip, which was 5 days in the Ansel Adams Wilderness. The Merrill hking shoes you recommeded were perfect. The meal plan was great, and actually allowed me to help others who weren’t as well prepared.

  57. Great tool! I have one enhancement request. It would be nice to be able to add columns for the number of parties in a group. For example, when I travel with my wife, we will spread some of the items over two backpacks. It would be nice to see the impact on weight, and be able to move some stuff around. She might carry 40 lbs., while I cary 50. Thanks

  58. Erik- Thanks for making this! I was trying to tally up my different packing options on my own. I have saved different versions depicting how much weight I’ve shaved off since my first hike this year. I’m posting them on my blog, making sure you are refenced.

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