10 Backpacking Essentials

For all you newbie backpackers, here are items to bring on a backpacking trip. Some are practical and some are just my favorites!

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1. Backpacking backpack: I’m a bit old school. I personally use an external frame, but most backpackers nowadays are using internal frames. There’s pros and cons to both. Experiment with both types and go with what feels best for you.

2. Stove and fuel: You’ll need this for number 5. Also, don’t forget matches and a lighter.

3. Clothes and boots: Depending on where and when you hike will determine what clothes you bring. For example, if I’m hiking Mt. Rainer in July, I’ll want to bring a parka. If I’m hiking Lena lake in July, I’ll want to bring a light weight, waterproof jacket. I won’t go into all the details of clothing, but no matter what, you’ll want to layer up and bring extra hiking socks. Also, bring broken-in hiking boots that fit properly.

image4. Tent and bag: I use a down sleeping bag because it is light and compressible, thus making the trek up more enjoyable. However, a down sleeping bag is not a requirement but highly recommended.

5. Meals and snacks: Dehydrated foods are the way to go! They only require hot water. My favorite meal to bring is Mountain House’s phad Thai. Yes, phad Thai! I also love to bring hot chocolate. Yum! To save on costs, my husband and I also pack less expensive foods like oatmeal, and we dehydrate our own fruit.

6. Water filter: It is revitalizing to sit by a riverbed, filter clean water into your water bottle, and drink actual mountainside fresh water. Depending on how often you plan to backpack, you can purchase a cheap filter for ten bucks for a one or two trip use or invest into a more pricey filter for about a hundred bucks to last you perhaps twenty years. You can also purchase water purifying tablets if you want to skip out on the water filter.

7. Map and compass: You may end up lost if you run into a fork in the road and not know which way leads you to your site. Be sure to pack a map. Don’t depend on your phone.

image8. Paraphernalia: My favorites are gloves, a hat, Chapstick, about four carabiners, TP, a journal, pen, and a good book. My absolute favorite accessory is a bandanna. Dipping my bandanna in a cold stream and then wrapping it around my head when I’m roasting is like heaven.

9. Trekking poles: Not a requirement. But for those who want to hike a bunch, poles are worth the investment. They will save your knees.

10. A camera: Some moments are meant just for me, but some I want to capture and share with my family and friends. Be sure to be all charged up and have enough memory space.

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