How to Choose Backpacking Supplies

How to Choose Backpacking SuppliesGearing up for your first backpacking trip builds anticipation and a healthy respect for the equipment needed to survive in nature. Whether you're getting ready for your first wilderness adventure or are a seasoned hiker, make sure to purchase quality gear, and plan your trip with experienced backpackers--never hike alone.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Step 1
Choose an appropriate pack. A very large pack will be heavy and cumbersome for a quick overnight outing, while a day pack won't do for extended stays in the backcountry. Sacrifice small features for comfort. A great-feeling, simple pack is much nicer than a mediocre frame with lots of extra pockets and lash points.
Step 2
Get the right clothes. Dress in layers to stay warm in the backcountry. Choose a lightweight, synthetic-base layer, two complete mid-layers and a waterproof, breathable shell. Each layer needs to function independently of the others to adapt to changing weather.
Step 3
Look for footwear that provides excellent foot and ankle support. Heavy packs and uneven terrain place huge amounts of stress on your ankles and feet, and sturdy footwear is necessary to combat fatigue and injury. Try on boots before you buy, and take a few steps with a loaded pack, if possible. Most outdoor stores will provide you with a weighted pack.
Step 4
Carry your own cookware and utensils. A simple cup, bowl and spoon are enough for most outings, but you may wish to add a plate, fork and knife. Look for sturdy but light metals, such as titanium. If your hiking partners do not have a stove, purchase a lightweight, collapsible backpacker's stove. Stay away from heavy units.
Step 5
Choose a lightweight sleeping bag suitable for your climate. Follow manufacturers' temperature ratings, and keep in mind the types of materials used. Down bags are excellent when kept dry, but they are not suitable for wet conditions.
Step 6
Keep miscellaneous hiking gear, such as trekking poles and sun hats, readily available. While you may not need extra gear for every outing, these items often come in handy and are essential in many climates.

Tips & Warnings

Feel free to borrow gear--such as a tent and sleeping bag--from your hiking partners, but the sooner you purchase your own gear, the more familiar you will become with it.

Article Written By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson earned his Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from The Ohio University. He has been a professional writer since 2008, specializing in outdoors content and instruction. Johnson's poetry has appeared in such publications as "Sphere" and "17 1/2 Magazine."

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