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What to take on a backpacking trip

Planning for the perfect vacation is different for everyone. You may plan a deserted island holiday where you soak up the sun and sip Mai Tais by the beach, or you might fancy a city getaway spent seeing museums, shopping at big malls, and attending Broadway shows. For many people, the best vacation is an active one, where you can explore nature and sleep under the stars. You love to carry what you need in a backpack and let nature trails and the sun lead the way.

Whether you are a seasoned backpacker or a first-time adventurer, it is important to be prepared for whatever the outdoors might bring. You could end up facing rain, sleet or snow, and you could get lost. You might even go several days without a viable water source. That is why you need to know what to take on a backpacking trip.


The first item is your backpack. Once you start exploring backpacks, you’ll be amazed by how many options are available. You should pick a pack that is waterproof, lightweight, and has many pockets and compartments for your equipment. Other waterproof packing items are desirable to keep electronics or clothes dry.


Getting back to where you started is important for any hiker. Thanks to the great advances in technology, you can load apps with a compass, maps, and GPS. However, it is smart to have back-ups in case you get so deep in the woods that you can’t access your apps. If you can’t find a map online and print it out, contact the visitor office where you’ll be exploring and have them send you maps ahead of your trip. Familiarize yourself with the trails, and bring the maps with you in a protective case. A good, old-fashioned compass is easy to stow in a pocket, and if you can’t tell north from east, you will be glad to have it. A headlamp or flashlight will help you see that map and compass in the dark.


Investigate the weather conditions in your destination, and be prepared for the worst. For example, several sunny days may sound great, but if you don’t have sunglasses and sunscreen, you will soon have a painful sunburn to deal with. If you are in the mountains, insulated clothing can protect you from the cold during the day, while a travel liner in your sleeping bag can add extra warmth at night. Whatever clothing you bring should dry quickly.

Emergency equipment


You never know when you might snag your jacket on a tree branch or trip and scrape your knee or drop your travel stove. Preparing for injuries and emergencies is vital for a backpacking trip. For repairs, take a multi-tool and the ubiquitous duct tape, which can handle many emergency fixes. A first aid kit is an essential travel item, and it should include essentials such as antibacterial ointment and bandages. Other items that can ease injuries and irritations include insect repellent, compression socks, and cooling towels. You can find products like canteens, lanterns and night-view glasses on websites like As Seen On TV, which will prove to be very handy on a backpacking trip.

Even if you are planning a day trip, you will want to include an emergency shelter in your pack. You can find lightweight tents and reflective blankets, or make do with a tarp. For longer trips, be sure to pick a tent or even a hammock that protects you from the elements. Other items backpackers may find essential include a cell phone – don’t forget the solar charging device – a whistle, and a locator beacon.

Hydration and food

Intense hiking means you will need to be well hydrated and well fed. Water bottles or canteens will last a short time, so if you will be finding water sources, it might be necessary to have a water filtering or treatment system. Bring plenty of energy-boosting food with you, such as freeze-dried meals and protein bars. Be sure to bring at least one extra day’s worth of food supplies. You can bring pre-packaged food, but if you want to cook or have coffee, you’ll need to bring fire starting supplies, along with a backpacking stove, fuel, and food preparation and serving items.

Wherever your travels take you, knowing you are prepared to meet any obstruction, weather condition, or injury will make your trip stress-free. Start finding your trip’s essentials and practice packing your gear to get ready for your great adventure.

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