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Backpacking Gear List Managers for iPhone and Android

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.

Backpack Optimizer
Backpack Optimizer

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.

Gram Weenie
Gram Weenie

Android: GearZoo

GearZoo

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.

GearZoo
GearZoo

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24 comments

  1. Nice overview. The IOS version of Gram Weenie do show grams and oz, but you can’t change categories. Another reason to change to Android.Thanks.

  2. Shout out for Gear Grams, works across web and ios and has been around for years so can be relied upon to still be there in the future.

    • Once you’ve made the switch to an app for gear list management, you’ll never tie yourself to an Internet connection or computer again. It is so liberating! Gear grams is great, no doubt. But he should make an app for it. The world has changed. My 2 cents.

      • There now is a gear grams app for the iPhone. Appears to have all the same features as his web app. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/geargrams/id1026942521?ls=1&mt=8

      • Just came out as noted by another reader. I plan to update this post with information about it. It’s kind of buggy because he’s still storing the data in a web app, so there are data synchronization issues with phone app, which has a very different event model. I’m sure he’ll sort those out though eventually. The gear grams app is still usable if you already use store data in Gear grams, but there are still a few things that Backpack Optimizer does better (IMHO).

  3. But why would you want to futz with entering and manipulating data on a touchscreen? I got a tablet for reading this past xmas. Native pdf support is nice (compared to e-ink readers), but trying to do work on it is a joke. I wouldn’t have expected to be a tech dinosaur in my 30s. But honestly, I can make Excel do exactly what I want and nothing that I don’t, and I don’t have such a burning need to update my file that it can’t wait till I’m in front of a keyboard.

  4. backpacker optimizer seems like a good one and considering “hiking checklist” app for my iPhone has froze up and no update to find, might as well try something new…

  5. Another good option is plain old Google Sheets. It gives me a lot of flexibility and I can easily share the list with my buddies. We can even collaborate on common items for a trip in real time.

  6. Another option is Evernote. I can import anything, but simple text lists work fine for gear, and it syncs between all devices, including a phone app. Cutting and pasting between lists is easy, especially on a laptop. The downside is you cannot tally weights as easily, but my main uses are for canoeing trips and cycletouring, so I’m not quite as weight sensitive.

    • I also use Evernote for gear and packing lists. It allows me to use check boxes next to the item that I enter as the item is placed in the pack. I have 3 lists: a master backing list, a day hiking list, and a winter camping list.

      • I had a real problem with Evernote replication across multiple devices this year. I’ve switched to Onenote, which is also free. It’s much more reliable. My two cents. But I don’t keep gear lists it.

  7. I have used google spreadsheets and gear grams in the past, but recently I started using Milestepper.com. and I’m a fan. There’s no app but the online version is pretty easy to use on mobile devices. I like it because you can plan the other aspects of the trip and invite others in on the planning.

  8. Thanks this is great!

  9. milestepper.com looks great. But, for me, its to general to be at backpacker packing list. In time Google Sheet will probably be good enough to generate regular app-functions on a smartphone.

  10. I have been using the numbers app on my iPhone. It’s always available, online or off. And I can export the files. Phiip, how would you compare numbers to the backpack optimizer?

  11. Only one review at the App Store. Says it does’ work with iPhone 6

  12. BTW that’s for Backpack Optimizer

  13. So. I tried out Backpack Optimizer. Very basic. I kinda miss not having a pie chart. While not necessary it does easily point out problem areas. Also B.O. Does not allow you to rearrange the order of the items once entered. That is a deal breaker for me. I like to list the removable pieces of my pack under the pack. Also like to list the packs from lightest, smallest to heaviest. Having no ounce only option, but pound ounce only is kind of a drag too. I just want a offline app that lets me organize my gear in the order I prefer. Name as many categories as I want. Handle multiple items and give me the ability to see a packing list with a total weight. Any ones out there that do that?

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