For some folks, packing is a frantic, last-minute chore that involves near-zero planning, tossing a bunch of “stuff” in a suitcase or backpack, and hoping for the best. Others prefer a more methodical approach. If you like lists, being prepared, and making sure you never leave anything at home while you’re away, you need a reliable packing tool. Here are the best sites and mobile apps to properly pack for any outdoor trip.
For proudly obsessive “control freaks,” packing apps don’t get much better than Packing Pro. The app provides complete control and customization over every aspect of the packing process, from weight to price to quantity to categories. The design is likewise customizable with themes but is noticeably dated, so it’s not the prettiest app in this mix. But, if you value versatility in your packing game above all else, this is the app for you. It’s only available for iOS, but works equally well on iPhones and iPads.
Unlike most apps on this list, OneBag eschews the dizzying amount of customizability in favor of keeping things dead-simple. The user interface is extremely clean, straightforward, and streamlined. As the name implies, this app is all about packing light, encouraging users to pare down to just one bag if possible. It does this by focusing on weight. Every item added to your packing list has a corresponding weight, so you can know for sure that your carry-on meets the requirements of whatever airline you’re traveling on next.
Packr offers a nice balance of simplicity and customizability. The design is clean, streamlined, and flexible for just about any type of adventure travel or outdoor trip. There are a few especially nice features we like, including the ability to pack for several travelers (useful for families), multi-destination planning (useful when the weather is different in each location), and built-in weather forecasting to help guide your packing and clothing choices.
For adventure travelers who really loathe packing, PackPoint offers a guided, step-by-step process to plan for your next trip. The “wizard” approach starts by asking where you’re headed and for how long. Then, it takes into account your preferred mode of travel — going international, traveling with a baby in tow, etc. — and what you’re planning to do once you get there (hiking, fancy dinners, hitting the beach, travel photography, etc.). From there, it provides a targeted packing list based on your preferences, eliminating nearly all the hassle in the process.
Like PackPoint, TrekPack takes a guided approach to help travelers pack. The difference is that the latter focus on packing for hiking- and trekking-centric trips. Tell TrekPack where you’re going, the type of accommodations you’ll be overnighting in (huts, tents, hostels, etc.), and whether you’re planning on cooking along the way. It also takes into account your preferred style of travel — whether you like to go ultralight, “standard,” or comfortable. By dialing in the weight of each item, the app can be sure you’re not over- or under-packing based on your preferences and alert you if so. You can also share packing lists with your
RoadTrippers isn’t a packing app per se, but it’s guaranteed to make the road trip journey to your next epic hike more interesting. With a massive database of local diners, quirky roadside attractions, scenic points of interest, national parks, and great hotels, it promises you’re “always five minutes away from something awesome.” The free version lets you plot up to seven waypoints, while upgrading to RoadTrippers Plus provides up to 150 waypoints per trip. Plus, the premium version gives you access to offline maps, custom map styles, exclusive deals, and the ability to coordinate planning with friends.
PackTeo is a favorite of ours for travel packing. Its versatility, however, also makes it a great planning tool for everything from grocery shopping to camping trips. The built-in packing list templates include a wide variety of activities (like cycling, kayaking, and hiking) and climates (desert, tropical, and high mountains), making it easy to browse and quickly add items to build a complete list for any trip. Every detail can be customized, or users can opt to create their own unique lists from scratch. Lists can also easily be saved as templates for easy reuse in the future.
Despite its boring name, Packing List Checklist is a straightforward app with a solid mix of manual and automated packing list creation features. That versatility makes it ideal for preparing for any outdoor trip. The built-in catalog includes hundreds of items in dozens of categories, or users can opt to build a list from scratch. Lists can easily be shared with friends or fellow hikers by PDF, email, messaging apps, and more. Most of the app’s features are available in the free version, but $2.99 unlocks premium add-ons like reminders and iCloud sync/backup.
For hikers — especially thru-hikers and those who favor long-distance trails — weight is everything. The lighter the pack, the more enjoyable the trip. As its name implies, LighterPack is a weight-focused packing tool with a no-nonsense website that hardcore backcountrymen have relied on for years. It’s designed to help users quickly build lists of essential gear with particular attention to the weight of each piece. Everything can be easily categorized, and lists can be printed for easy offline reference. Registration isn’t required, although it is free.
Packfire is another web-based packing and pack-building tool to help plan for any outdoor trip. The interface is bright, colorful, and easy to read. Users can build custom lists or select from Packfire’s database of currently available gear on the market with predefined weights, prices, and other essential info. The site promises seamless collaboration with fellow hikers, including the ability to share packing lists and comment on other packs within a group. For group hikes, this makes it easy to divvy up shared gear to balance out the overall weight. The site is currently in beta, so it’s yet to officially launch, and there’s no companion smartphone app (yet).
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