When people pack for a trip, it seems like all their alter egos come out to play. People seem to pack things they would never wear or use on a daily basis. I find myself falling into this trap all the time.
When you’re on the go, especially if you are camping or hiking, it is important to be selective in what you bring. I have come up with a list that I check off each time I go hiking and camping that helps me remember what things are necessary and what things are just extra weight.
I make sure to bring each of the items listed below and then cater the rest of the items to how long of a trip it is and what the weather will be like.
One of the most important things to remember when you are hiking is that moisture is not your friend. Wherever moisture gets in, you can get more chilled or more chaffing. And both of these things are terrible if you are halfway into a hike in the middle of nowhere.
When you are hiking, you will want to have several layers of comfortable clothes, but the first layer, apart from your underwear, should be moisture wicking. You can get some very high quality polypropylene long underwear that will last for several years.
If you are just dipping your toe into camping and hiking, then some good quality exercise leggings could do the trick, since most of these are advertised to be moisture wicking as well.
This category doesn’t quite qualify for being on the “minimalist’s” list because if there is one thing you could use more of when you are hiking, it’s socks.
Not just any socks though. Just like with the under layers, you will need to have moisture wicking materials, and the best option for that is socks made from wool. Bring at least a pair for each day you plan to be gone and then throw in one or two more pairs.
Do. Not. Forget. Extra. Socks.
Everyone has a different opinion about what kind of hiking shoes are the best. And this makes sense, because everyone has different feet.
However, I think everyone would agree the the most important thing quality that a good hiking shoe can be is one that is worn in well. If you are buying new shoes because your old ones just won’t make the trip, wear your new ones around town for the the week before your trip. Who cares if you look like a total dweeb? It’s better than getting massive blisters and ruining your trip.
You also might find that good ankle support could be helpful. Some people like the ankle support and others find it a little uncomfortable. Walk around with your shoes in the store to see what you like.
Also, don’t forget to bring bandaids and moleskin just in case you still get blisters after all your preparation.
There are several different kinds of jackets out there that are great quality, but the quality of the jacket doesn’t matter as much as preparing for the right kind of weather.
Rain Or Wind
If you are expecting rain or wind on your trip, you will need a hardshell jacket along with several other layers. It may be useful to find a jacket that has a hood with good coverage and will stay on through severe gusts of wind.
If you are hiking or camping in snow you want to have well-insulated puffy jackets. These will trap all your body heat in to keep you warm in some of the coldest temperatures. You might want to get a jacket that has a removable inner layer so you can adjust it to what you need when you need it. You might not want to have a heavy coat while hiking, but may find it useful while you are hanging around at camp and not moving a lot.
If you’re car camping, you might not need a backpack, but if you are hiking in, this may be one of the most important parts of your gear. Not all packs are created equal and you might have to try out a few before you find the one that fits the way you want it to. There are a few important things to look for in a pack:
The capacity of your pack will depend on how long your trip is going to be and what kind of weather conditions you’ll be in. If you are hiking in snowy or rainy weather, you will need to have a larger pack to carry more equipment and more clothes. If you are camping for a week, you will need a larger pack for food and supplies than if you were going overnight.
There is almost nothing more annoying than having to pull a water bottle in and out of your backpack while you are on the move; this is why a bladder is invaluable to any serious hiker. These bladders come in different sizes, so make sure you get one that you will find the most convenient without adding unnecessary weight. A 36 liter bladder is great for day hikes while a 65 liter bladder would be more helpful for longer excursions.
Never underestimate the worth of some comfortable shoulder straps. If you feel the straps slightly cutting into your shoulders when you try the pack on at the store, you can bet that they will be 100 times worse when you have 20 extra pounds of gear, food, and equipment in it.
Find a pack that has thick, comfortable straps and are wide enough to fit on your shoulders without cutting into your neck. You will also probably want to have a hiking backpack that has a waist strap to give you some extra support.
Do you have any clothes that you can’t live without while camping?