Backpacking is great in many ways. It gets out into the wilderness, where you can breathe in fresh air and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. You can see beautiful landscapes and also get some exercise, too.
But choosing the gear you take along with you is just as important as where youíre going. Before you pack, consider things such as where youíre going, for how long, and what the weather is like there. Are you going alone or as part of a group? Are you familiar with the area?
Listed below are some tips on choosing the right gear for you for your next backpacking adventure.
The first thing youíll need to go backpacking is, of course, a backpack. There are many different sizes and styles of packs and the one you pick should depend on how many days your trip is and how much you plan to carry with you. Keep in mind that youíll need to carry items such as clothing, water, food, and shelter with you if your trip is more than a day long. Most likely, youíll get a pack with an internal frame, which ďhugsĒ the user and keeps walkers stable and balanced on uneven ground.
Multi-day packs: Multi-day packs are used for trips ranging two to four days, such as a weekend trip. Most multi-day packs are made to weather three-season conditions (spring, summer, and fall), and come in a variety of sizes based upon how much you want to carry. Menís packs range from 40 liters to 75 liters of space, while womenís packs typically hold 40 to 65 liters.
Extended trip packs: Extended trip packs are for trips lasting more than five days. With an extended trip, most backpackers carry a large amount of supplies, and thus many of these packs hold at least 65 liters. Extended trip packs are also ideal for winter camping, as you will need to carry more supplies and bulkier clothing, and for camping trips with children, as the parents tend to carry most or all of the supplies.
Ultra-light packs: These packs are primarily used by hardcore hikers who carry few supplies with them. Heavy gear and supplies such as food and some tents wonít be supported, so this type of pack isnít ideal for novices.
When it comes to the fit of the pack, make sure the backpack is an appropriate size for your height and weight and that it can sit comfortably on your hips, which helps take the bulk of the weight off of your shoulders.
2. Sleeping Bag
When choosing a sleeping bag, itís incredibly important to consider the climate and weather conditions you will face out in the wilderness. A winter sleeping bag will vastly differ from a lightweight spring or summer bag, so be sure to check what the average high and low temperatures are for the area youíll be trekking through, and remember that your sleeping bag always be five to ten degrees warmer than the areaís lowest temperature.
Weight and size: Since youíll be carrying everything on your back, including your sleeping bag, be sure to take the weight and size of the bag into consideration. Most modern sleeping bags are made with lighter materials and are made to be compact. Avoid backpacking with a sleeping bag weighing more than five pounds.
Materials: Since the bag will be carried on your back and thus exposed to the elements, make sure your sleeping bag has a waterproof shell, made from Gore-Tex or another comparable material. For an interior liner, silk or fleece are great choices. The stuffing between the interior and exterior really makes the bag, however. Most lightweight bags use down, made from bird feathers, while others use synthetics. Both are comparable to each other, though down does lose insulating power when wet.
Youíll undoubtedly need shelter on your trip which is where tents come in. Size and weight are obvious factors, so the more lightweight the better. A one-person tent should weigh no more than three pounds, while a two or three person tent should weigh no more than 5. Also think about the weather conditions you will be facing and how much room you want in the tent.
Three-season tents: These are the most popular choice, with versatility for spring, summer, and fall. They are also have lightweight poles, come with a rainfly to keep you dry, and can also shield you from bugs and light snow.
Four season tents: These tents are more commonly used by mountain climbers who must camp out in snow or at cold high altitudes, with a primary function of keeping the user warm. The poles are heavier and there is more to carry, but it is a must-have if youíll be traveling in winter.
Ultralight tents: Ultralight tents fit one person and are incredibly lightweight. They feature a tarp-style base and mesh top. They are extremely lightweight but are extremely small and can be slightly less comfortable than a three-season tent. This style is best for minimalist backpackers who donít mind really roughing it.