Can a smartphone help you pack for backpacking or day hiking? Definitely. It is so much more convenient to be able to record gear weights and plan new gear lists on your phone without being tied to a spreadsheet and a laptop or desktop computer.
Here are the best backpacking gear list management apps I’ve found for the job on the iPhone and Android.
iPhone: Backpack Optimizer
Backpack Optimizer is far the easiest to use and most polished gear list management app available. You can store multiple gear lists, define your own packing categories, and use ounces or grams to calculate total gear weight. Handles multiples items very well, like tent stakes, letting you specify how many stakes you want to bring and adding up their total weight which is useful if you carry different assortments. Limitations: Can’t send a gear list via email or export it to a file. Still highly recommended.
Android: Gram Weenie
Gram Weenie is available on Android and the iPhone for $0.99, but the Android version is much easier to use. You can store multiple gear lists, define your own packing categories (but not in the Apple version), and add items from a central gear closet. Doesn’t handle multiple items well, like tent stakes, and only uses grams for gear weights. Can export CSV files via email so you can view gear lists in computer apps.
GearZoo is free, but you must first register on a web site to use it. All app data is stored locally however, so you can use the app offline. You can create multiple gear lists and assign gear items to them which will calculate your total gear weight in grams or ounces. However you can’t create new gear categories and ease of use is significantly worse than the apps reviewed above.