If you are planning a backpacking trip, having the right gear can make a world of difference in your comfort level and your safety. The following list of essential outdoor gear for backpackers should help you make sure that you have everything that you need:
1. Navigational equipment. The most common backpacking-related tragedies often involve hikers getting lost. The best way to avoid this is by bringing navigational tools along with you. This includes a topographic map of the area where you will be hiking as well as a compass so you know which direction you are going. A solar powered GPS device may also be useful.
2. Sturdy shoes. Ask anyone who hikes regularly and they will tell you that a good pair of shoes can make the difference between an enjoyable hike and a pain-filled experience. Look for a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or boots that keep your foot stable. Additionally, make sure that the shoes fit properly before you head out on the trail. Break them in ahead of time so that you don’t develop blisters while you are hiking.
3. A backpack. It goes without saying that you need a high-quality backpack if you plan on hiking for any distance. The vast majority of today’s backpacks are designed with an internal frame structure. Additionally, they have a belt at the bottom that fits around your hips. This belt supports the majority of the weight in the pack, helping to ease the amount of weight on your shoulders.
Try on the backpack in the store to see how it fits. Consider loading it up to add some weight so that you can make sure that the weight sits comfortably on your hips and that the pack doesn’t put undue pressure on your shoulders. Finally, make sure that it is large enough to carry all of the gear that you want to take with you.
4. A tent or hammock. A lightweight backpacking hammock can be a good investment if you plan on hiking in areas where you will be exposed to a lot of inclement weather. Otherwise, you may want to consider going with a hammock. Hammocks are extremely lightweight and often incorporate features such as rain flies or bug screens to provide a more comfortable sleeping experience. Of course, a hammock will only work if you are hiking in an area with trees.
If you go with a tent instead, be sure to look for a compact, lightweight model that is specifically designed for backpacking. Be prepared to spend a little bit of money since lightweight tents can be on the expensive side.
5. A sleeping bag. Regardless of whether you will be sleeping in a tent or in a hammock, a high-quality sleeping bag is a must. Again, look for a lightweight model that won’t weigh your pack down but still provides plenty of warmth.
This list of outdoor gear covers the most essential basics that you will need for backpacking. You may also need to bring a multi-tool, flashlight or headlamp, sunglasses, first aid kit, fire starter, extra food, and extra water.