The world of backpacking can unlock some of the most beautiful places on earth. Often to see the most spectacular vistas where mother nature is truly at her best, you have to travel beyond where the roads end. Traveling to these places on foot can truly be spiritual; spending time in nature and away from the hustle and bustle connects us to our most authentic selves. Being comfortable in these spaces enough to fully enjoy them can be a life-changing experience.
In 2015 I hiked the entirety of the Pacific Crest Trail, a continuous footpath that follows the tallest mountains on the west coast as they span from Mexico to Canada. Fully experiencing this trail of over 2600 miles took me almost six months, plenty of time to fully develop an understanding of what gear is most critical for being comfortable outside. Here’s a list of the equipment I found to be most vital to my comfort in the backcountry; these are the items I relied on day in and day out.
It should come as no surprise that investing in a quality pack should be an enormous priority. You will be carrying everything you need with you day after day. Having a backpack that fits you well, can hold up to the elements, and is the correct size is monumentally important.
The sleep system includes a sleeping bag and pad. Consider how essential being comfortable is to quality sleep, and then how important it will be to wake up feeling refreshed. The sleeping pad is of equal importance to the bag; it insulates you from the cold ground and protects you from rocks, roots, and more.
Your tent will be your shelter from the storm, maybe literally, and will quickly become your safe place in the backcountry. The further you are from your car or a warm hotel, the more important having a quality, dependable tent becomes. Find the right balance between the size you’d like and the weight you are willing to carry.
Having the right layers for your trip can make or break your enjoyment of the time you have to spend in nature. Do your research on the typical weather in the area during the time of year you will be there and plan to have high quality and appropriate clothing. Having something warm enough for while you are at camp and a dependable rain jacket to keep you dry during the day are excellent pieces of gear to start with.
Nothing is more uncomfortable than not having clean water to drink. Not only can untreated water contain deadly bacteria, but it can taste awful as well! Imagine coming across the water source you are relying on and finding a dead bird floating in it. I can tell you from experience that’s the last time I relied on iodine to purify! Investing in a quality water filter will give you the peace of mind to explore further than you otherwise would!
Backpacking gear can be expensive, and it’s hard to know where to start when it comes to spending the money on the best equipment. These are the first things I would invest in were I to rebuild my gear starting from scratch. Rest assured that the higher price tags will ensure a quality you can rely on and a lifespan that will afford you many future trips to the great outdoors.