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Gear Guide: Backpacking

This is everything you need to know to stay comfortable while taking on the grueling sport of backpacking. This article can aid both the beginner and the expert.


  • Wear comfortable clothes that don't constrict your movement.

  • Hiking boots should be roomy enough to allow good circulation, have good ankle support and ground gripping traction and be lightweight.

  • Socks should be layered or padded.

  • Wear long pants that have zippered legs to convert to shorts or use the two layered system (pants over a pair of shorts).

  • Wear two or three layers of shirts.

  1. Inner: T-shirt to wick away perspiration.

  2. Middle: Fleece vest or sweater for warmth.

  3. Outer: Gore-Tex or similar lightweight shell for wind and rain protection.

  • A cotton bandanna is useful to tie around forehead to absorb perspiration.

  • Wear a hat for sun and rain protection.

A backpack should be sized properly, have a four point harness system to stabilize the gear, a padded back, curved shoulder straps, waist belt to balance the load on the hips and a roomy main pocket and smaller compartments for water bottles and smaller gear (sunscreen, camera, flashlight, maps, etc.).

Hiking Stick
Probe poles or hiking sticks aid in sure-footed stepping, balance and support.

A tent should be lightweight, flexible, durable and include a waterproof groundsheet.

Sleeping Bag and Pad
A sleeping bag should be lightweight, have the appropriate seasonal warmth and a fitted hood to trap body heat. A sleeping bag is more effective when used with a ground mat.

Kitchen Gear and Food
Kitchen gear should be made of compact, lightweight aluminum. You'll need a stove, portable fuel and non-stick aluminum cookware. A multi-tool with a knife, kitchen utensils and corkscrew is also helpful. Bring along energy food that is low in fat and high in carbohydrates.

Plenty of water is essential for any backpacking trip and can be purified by boiling, using a water filtering system or iodine tablets.

First Aid Kit
A first aid kit should be lightweight, compact and include specific items for backpacking — a compass, blister aid, antihistamine creme and ankle/knee support bandages.



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