Outdoor Essentials: What to Pack When Backpacking

Whether you are ready to brave the great outdoors, or preparing for months of traveling abroad, I can tell you there’s nothing in the world that compares to a true backpacking experience. However, It can be pretty overwhelming when thinking of the things you want to take with you on your next backpacking adventure, but you should always bear in mind that what you need to take can spell the difference between a nice trip and a search and rescue party. In order to set yourself up for the safest, most enjoyable backpacking trip of your life, be sure to only pack the essentials.

I’ve found that taking the minimal amount of belongings is the ideal way to travel. Not only in terms of necessity, but the amount of weight you have to carry. I’m compiled a list of the basics you may need.

Finding Your Way

Accurate navigation is one of the most crucial components of backpacking, as getting lost in the wilderness is most likely the last thing on your outdoor itinerary. To prevent this, make sure you bring the following:

  • Map
  • Compass
  • Watch

Even if you plan to bring your smartphone, you should assume that in most places, especially in the more remote regions of the world, you may not get any cell phone service. You never know if you won’t receive reception, or if your phone dies. So be prepared for the worst.

Protecting Yourself

It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Regardless of where you’re going, whether it be deep into dense forests, high up into a mountain range, or across a scorching desert, you are bound to face any number of outdoor dangers when backpacking. To avoid succumbing to extreme heat, you should pack:

  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Protective hat
  • Chapstick

One thing people often forget is appropriately preparing for hazardous weather conditions. Even if you’re going to a warm climate, you must keep in mind how the weather can shift, particularly at night. I always try to bring the following items:

  • Jacket
  • Protective vest
  • Waterproof shoes/boots
  • Waterproof pants
  • Warm hat
  • Gloves

Campsite Essentials

Once you’ve reached a point in your journey where you’re able to settle down and set up camp, there are a number of things you should have ready for optimal safety and comfort. Be sure to bring multiple sources of light including a flashlight or headlamp, and materials to build a fire. You’ll want to have:

  • Matches or lighter
  • First-aid kit
  • Food (amount depending on the duration of your trip)
  • Water (a canteen and several bottles)
  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Swiss army knife

Before heading out for your backpacking adventure, be sure to have a checklist of the most essential items you’ll need beforehand, most of which have been listed above.

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