Going on a backpacking expedition is an exciting and thrilling opportunity to connect with nature and reconnect with yourself. But if you want to have a successful journey, you’re going to need to bring the right equipment along. To best ensure you are properly prepared for everything Mother Nature can throw your way on the trails, check out our list of the best gear for backpacking through the wilderness!
Your shelter is an integral part of making sure you stay comfortable, well-rested, and dry during your hike. A tent will likely be the most obvious choice, and you’ll want to select one with murky colors so you don’t stand out and draw unwanted attention to yourself. When it comes to deciding which tent is right for you, try to find a balance between the comfort of use and the discomfort of having to haul it around on your back. The ideal choice would be both lightweight and durable. As an alternative to bringing a tent, hammocks and tarps can also be used.
For a sleeping bag, you'll have to choose between down or synthetic fill. Down-filled bags have the advantage when it comes to weight, size, and overall effectiveness of keeping you warm, but they do lack one quality that gives their synthetic-filled counterparts the edge: water resistance. Synthetic sleeping bags have the unique advantage of being able to withstand moisture, so if you think you’ll be at risk of getting drenched during your trek, a synthetic option might be the best choice for you. You’ll also want to pair your sleeping bag with a foam pad or self-inflating mat to increase insulation and comfort. If you can afford the space in your pack, don’t skimp out and leave your mat at home.
Food and Water
Equipment: Having a small, portable stove is a must if you want to survive in the wild. Models like the JetFoil, Trangia, and Whisperlite stoves are versatile and designed to be transported on backpacking trips. You’ll also want to bring along some basic utensils like a small cooking pan, a fork/spoon, and a metal mug or cup.
Food: When it comes to sustenance, you’re going to need a lot of nourishment to maintain your energy-intensive hikes - so you better pack the proper food! Bring a mix of wet foods and dry foods that are high-energy and non-perishable. Porridge packets, rice bags, oatcakes, dried fruits, and nuts are just some of the many great options available.
Water: There are a couple of ways to treat water in the wild so that it is safe for drinking. The first is to boil it, but this can be a bit fuel-intensive. Filter straws or purifying systems can be a more practical alternative. To treat large batches, use Chlorine or Chlorine Dioxide tablets/droplets. Neutralizing tablets can be used on top of the Chlorine tablets to take the edge off that chemical taste.
How you dress is less about fitting the image of a seasoned backpacker, and more about fitting the climate of where you’re backpacking. Choose articles of clothing that are durable, weatherproof, and lightweight. Bring a warm, waterproof jacket and a weatherproof pair of convertible trousers. Be conscious of the fabrics and whenever possible, opt for something that is breathable, wicking, and conducive to layering. Leave restrictive clothing, like jeans, in the closet at home. A comfortable pair of hiking boots is also a must-have. Make sure to size them with consideration to the thickness of your hiking socks, and focus on the quality of their fit, breathability, and durability.
There are so many choices for backpacks out there and because they are such a central item to the backpacking experience, making your final decision can cause a panic. Your best bet is to go to a supply store so you can try on a few different styles to figure out what you like and what fits your body type the best. At the end of the day, if a pack offers enough space to fit everything you need to bring, and if it feels comfortable to carry, it’s a viable option for purchase. When narrowing down your choices, focus on the shape, weight distribution, and the overall support of your posture when it is secured to you.
Here are some other useful items that you will want to carry in your pack. While this is not an exhaustive list, it does include some of what we would consider to be necessities when backpacking through the wilderness. Decide for yourself if you can spare the space in your pack to carry them along!
- Swiss Army Knife
- Hands-Free Lighting (such as a head lamp)
- Basic First-Aid Kit
- Paracord Rope
- Toothbrush (miniature toiletries)
- Wet Wipes
- Dry Bags
- Hiking Poles
Now that you have a better idea of what items can stay back at home and what you need to pack along, you can feel even more confident that your backpacking adventure is going to end in success! Is there an important piece of backpacking gear that we forgot to include? Let us know in the comments below!