It’s not always easy to head out into the wilderness and start your backpacking trip, but you want to make sure that you’re going to be ready for it before you do. That means making sure that you have all the best backpacking gear you can find from the sleeping bag you’re going to use to the hydration pack, thermos and even heating and cooking supplies.
There’s a lot involved, and everything needs to be carefully chosen to put in your pack before you end up out in the middle of nowhere with gear that isn’t actually going to work for you. It’s definitely not going to be a good thing.
Our Top Picks
|Marmot Trestles 30F Sleeping Bag||3.2 lbs||72 x 30 in||Polyester||Check price on Amazon|
|Etekcity Portable Outdoor LED Camping Lantern||1.2 lbs||3.5 x 5 x 7 in||Plastic||Check price on Amazon|
|Seal Line Black Canyon Boundary Duffle Bag||1.9 lbs||4.3 x 10.6 x 17.1 in||Nylon||Check price on Amazon|
|LifeStraw Personal Water Filter||0.1 lbs||8.9 x 1 x 8.9 in||Plastic||Check price on Amazon|
|Big Agnes Tumble 2 Person mtnGLO Backpacking Tent||5.2 lbs||34 sq. ft.||Polyester||Check price on Amazon|
|Cosmo Headlamp||0.4 lbs||4 x 1.5 x 4.5 in||Glass||Check price on Amazon|
|Flash Personal Cooking System||2 lbs||7.1 x 4.1 x 4.1 in||Stainless steel||Check price on Amazon|
|Osprey Raptor Hydration Pack||1.7 lbs||2 x 9 x 19 in||Mesh, nylon||Check price on Amazon|
|J5 Tactical Tactical Flashlight||0.2 lbs||3.7 x 1 x 1 in||Metal||Check price on Amazon|
|Yeti Rambler Tumbler||1 lbs||6 x 3 x 3 in||Steel||Check price on Amazon|
Choosing Your Backpacking Gear
If you’re not sure about choosing your gear you need to think about a number of different factors. These factors are going to help you understand what you will need and what you can get away without when you’re heading out on your next camping or backpacking trip.
You have to make sure you’re prepared for anything that might come up, but you don’t want to over pack because that can make your trip a whole lot more difficult, so make sure you’re paying attention as you go.
What’s the Weather?
The first thing you need to know are the weather conditions that are expected in the area. You’ll want to check what the expected temperatures are for all areas that you’re going to be in. If you’re going up to the mountains, for example, you want to make sure that you have a good idea of the temperatures there as well as lower to sea level.
You’ll also want to know if it’s expected to rain or snow at any point during your trip because this will require additional (and different types) of gear.
What’s the Terrain?
Knowing what type of terrain you’re going to be hiking through is an extremely important aspect of your trip as well.
You need to know what type of hiking boots or shoes you’ll need, if you’ll be able to carry all the belongings you want to take, whether you need hiking poles or other assistance to help you climb, whether you need ropes or climbing gear for potential problems and a whole lot more.
Knowing your terrain is going to make a big difference in what you pack and what you wear.
What’s the Length?
Next, make sure you know just how long you’re going to be gone for. You want to have plenty of gear for the number of days you plan to be gone and possibly for a couple extra days in case of problems.
If you don’t know how long you’re going to be gone ahead of time you could end up short on the amount of gear that you need for a safe trip. That’s definitely going to make for some uncomfortable nights and days, unless you can find a way to clean out your clothes and find more food.
The Gear You Shouldn’t Leave Home Without
Price: $110 – $155
Weight: 3.2 pounds
Dimensions: 72 x 30 inches
Specific features: Polyester and polyester taffeta build, long, left zip, rated to 30 degrees Fahrenheit
Best use: Cold nights above freezing, packs moderate size, mummy style bag
Description: This sleeping bag is going to be one that you definitely appreciate having because the Marmot Trestles Sleeping Bag is rated down to 30 degrees Fahrenheit with no problems.
You’ll be able to stay warm and comfortable inside without having to worry about all that cold air and, instead of a regular sleeping bag, this one has a hood to keep your head warm and hold your pillow inside.
The deep green color with lighter accents looks great, but it’s the style that you’re going to appreciate the most. It has a long style to make sure you have plenty of room even if you’re taller and it has a zipper on the left side to get in.
With this bag you get a compression stuff sack as well as space to store some of your belongings right in the bag with you while you’re sleeping. You’ll also have plenty of padding with the SpiraFil High Loft insulation that comes in the bag.
This means you will feel comfortable even if you have to sleep on the ground otherwise. You can leave the bag open at the head to provide you with more air or close it up so that only a small section remains open. This keeps you warmer when the weather gets too bad and also makes sure nothing gets into the bag.
- Compresses nicely
- High quality
- It does not come with a stuff bag
- The zippers are very stiff initially
Related: Customers who buy this sleeping bag also frequently buy it together with the Therm a Rest Compressible Pillow. Coming in a wide range of colors, the compressible pillow is the perfect accompaniment for travelers and campers. The material outside has been made with polyester while the fill inside is made from soft urethane form. Your head and neck are going to be grateful you bought this for your next outdoor activity.
Price: Approx. $17
Weight: 1.2 pounds
Dimensions: 3.5 x 5 x 7 inches
Specific features: 2 pack, 12 hour battery life, 360 light, military grade, suspend or carry
Best use: Camping trip with family, shorter trip or able to carry batteries
Description: This pair of Etekcity Portable Outdoor Camping Lantern is designed to help you and your friends have a great time when you head out camping the next time.
If you are going to be camping for the night you’ll be able to easily see what you’re doing as you prepare meals or just hang out with those friends and family.
If you’re going to be out in the night or if you get lost they can be a great tool to help you find your way even in the dark with the LED style lights and 360 degree light projection.
They can also be carried easily by the handles or hung anywhere if you need them for continuous light. With 12 hours of battery life, all you need is a couple extra batteries to keep them on overnight.
These lights are lightweight so you can carry them for an extended period of time with no problems and they are made with military grade materials so you don’t have to worry about dropping them or how long they’re going to last.
They have a traditional style and instead of going out immediately they gradually dim as the batteries die to make sure you know what’s coming up. You get a 10 year warranty and you can fold up the lights when they’re not being used so they take up less space in your pack.
- Fairly priced
- Comes with its own batteries
- Has bright light
- Needs to be handled with care
- Seems smaller for some users
Related: Backpacking calls for serious preparations and that is why customers who buy this item also buy the Coleman Tent Kit and the Intex Classic Airbed Set. The tent kit includes four tent pegs, rubber mallet, nesting hand broom and dust pan and steel rod stake puller. The Airbed set includes two inflatable pillows and a hand pump. You do not want to miss these the next time you go backpacking.
Price: $95 – $150
Weight: 1.88 pounds
Dimensions: 4.3 x 10.6 x 17.1 inches
Specific features: 4 color options, lightweight bag, nylon body, watertight, PVC free
Best use: Moderate to long trips
Description: If you’re looking to carry your belongings in safety and keep them from getting wet the Seal Line Black Canon Boundary Duffle Bag is definitely going to be a great choice. This bag has backpack style straps on the back that make it easy to carry and even has extra straps to help slim it down.
The bag itself is made with different types of coated nylon to make sure that it’s entirely watertight and sealed to keep out anything. It has a roll down dry seal at the top and even more seal throughout.
With this bag you get eco friendly fabric and comfort from the padded straps. You also won’t have a problem carrying a lot of materials and supplies with you because the bag itself can hold up to 70 liters, enough for a several day trip.
Shoulder straps are all waterproof and ventilated as well to keep you comfortable and dry and you won’t have to worry about balance because there’s even a waist belt to keep the load centered where you need it to be.
- Cumbersome for starters
- Not great for extreme cayoneering
- A few small cuts on the bag degrade the bag
Related: Protection should be from the top to the bottom. That is why customers who buy this item also frequently buy the No-See-Um Head Net. It fits over most headgear so you do not have to worry about your size. The head net elasticizes at the neck for a snug fit and allows you to breathe comfortably.
Price: Approx. $15
Weight: 0.11 pounds
Dimensions: 8.86 x 0.98 x 8.86 inches
Specific features: Lightweight, easy to carry, filters 1000 liters without chemicals, removes 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria and 99.9% of waterborne protozoa, drink directly through straw from contaminated water
Best use: No time for other filtering, need to drink on the move, need high quality filtering
Description: This straw is definitely a unique tool that you’re not going to want to forget because the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter could just be the only thing keeping you alive if you end up lost in the woods.
This straw is designed to be inserted directly into contaminated (or potentially contaminated) water and then you can drink directly from the other end. While the water is passed through nearly all of the waterborne parasites and bacteria will be removed with this filter, which surpasses the EPA standard.
You can get 1000 liters of clean water through this straw before you need to replace it with a new one and because it’s so small and lightweight that’s definitely not going to be a problem.
At a low price, you can actually afford to take a few of these with you and make sure that, no matter where you are or what you’re doing, you’ll always have the clean drinking water that you (and the rest of your party) need.
- Removes waterborne bacteria and parasites
- Comes in sealed bag
- No added taste to water
- Bigger than expected
- Tendency to get clogged
Related: To be more absolutely sure that you are drinking the cleanest water in the wild, you should also consider purchasing the Potable Aqua Water Tablets. It’s easy to use and is specially designed for hiking and camping.
Price: Approx. $250
Weight: 5.2 pounds
Dimensions: 34 square feet
Specific features: 2 person tent, lightweight, built in LED lights, 1 door, 42 inches tall
Best use: 1-2 people, short term camping
Description: If you need a place to stay for the night the Big Agnes Tumble 2 Person mtnGLO Backpacking Tent is going to be a great choice. It packs up small so you can easily carry it while you’re backpacking and it’s very simple to set up as well, which means you can hike all day and then get camp set up in no time at all.
This unit has only one door, but it does have built in lights that make it a whole lot easier to enjoy yourself during the time you are stuck in the tent, especially since the ceiling is too low for a hanging lantern.
Made as a 3 season tent, this one is made with polyester fly and floor to keep out the rain and all seams are taped with polyurethane tape that doesn’t have any PVC’s or VOC’s. There are loops already attached for a gear loft if you have/want one and the inside has media pockets to put your earbuds through with ease.
In case of bad weather there are storm flaps on the vestibule zipper to keep out even more moisture and make sure that your tent is ready for anything.
- Easy to set up
- Relatively lightweight
- Comfortable & durable
- Moderately expensive
- Only one door
Related: To complete the entire survival kit, customers also buy the Survival Fire Starter and the iRonsnow Dynamo Emergency Weather radio. The fire starter also comes fully fitted with a compass and a whistle just in case you have an emergency. The solar powered Am/FM radio has an LED flashlight you can use even during an outdoor event at night.
Price: Approx. $30
Weight: 0.4 pounds
Dimensions: 4 x 1.5 x 4.5 inches
Specific features: 3 level battery life meter, several modes including red night vision, 10 color options, inexpensive
Best use: Travel at night
Description: If you’re going to be travelling at night or even just getting up to go to the bathroom at night you’ll want a headlamp that can help you see where you’re going.
It’s never a good idea to walk around at night in an area you don’t know or anywhere if you can’t see where you’re walking. This Black Diamond Headlamp is available in several colors so you can pick your favorite and has a variety of different settings to choose from so you can get whatever you need.
You’ll be able to see how much power is left in your battery with the power meter that shows up immediately after you switch on the light and the stretch strap will make sure that you never lose this light because it sits firmly against your head.
The lamp is designed to withstand water so you can still use it in light rain though you’ll want to avoid submersing it in water. Still, with 90 lumens you’ll have no problem getting where you need to go.
- High quality
- Easy to use
- Pocket friendly
- Fits properly
- Stays in place
- How to get between the modes is a bit counter intuitive
- It is easy to accidentally toggle the power button and turn it on while in bag
Related: There is nothing as terrible as feeling thirsty and having no water to quench your thirst. To avoid these kind scenarios, customers often buy the Nalgene Tritan Water Bottle. It comes in a wide array of colors. The bottle is totally safe as it is BPA free and has been made with the best metals and plastics. It has a wide mouth for ease of use and only weighs 32 oz.
Price: Approx. $80
Weight: 2 pounds
Dimensions: 7.09 x 4.09 x 4.09 inches
Specific features: 6 color/style options, 1.0 liter FluxRing cook cup, insulating cozy on cup, drink through lid
Best use: 1 person, short trip
Description: If you’re looking to make your own meals while you’re out in the wilderness you need to make sure that you have the right tools to do so. This Flash Personal Cooking System allows you to simply put your food into the cub and affix it to the burner and you’ll be ready to go in no time.
It uses a built in windscreen to protect the heat and the cup itself has an insulator to make sure that the heat in the food doesn’t get out while you’re trying to eat or drink it. The burner itself uses an electric igniter and before you know it you’ll have your meal ready for you.
This unit can be collapsed down to provide a small packed size and give you more space for other belongings. You’ll also know when your meal is starting to cool down because the inner lining will start to change colors.
This happens first when your meal gets hot and then starts to change again as it cool back down. With just one fuel canister you’ll be able to boil 12 liters of water total and when you’re not using it you can easily slide it right into the cup for easy storage.
- You will keep buying replacement cups
- Needs special care in cold climates
Related: To have it easy when using the cooking system customers also buy it together with the Jetboil Pot Support and the Jetboil Jetpower Fuel Blend. You will need the pot support with any pots or pans. It properly places your pot or pan up higher off the cooking system to enable the flame and heat to work properly. The fuel blend uses propane or isobutane to provide constant high pressure fuel.
Price: Approx. $125
Weight: 1.68 pounds
Dimensions: 2 x 9 x 19 inches
Specific features: Carries 100 fluid ounces water, bright green color, drink while walking, plenty of pockets, balanced straps and frame with waist strap
Best use: Need access to water, shorter trips
Description: With this Osprey Raptor Hydration Pack you’ll be able to carry plenty of water with you right on your back and that means you can get a drink whenever you want without having to stop to dig out your water bottle first.
With an internal bladder capable of holding 100 fluid ounces of water, you won’t have to worry about leaks either because it’s entirely sealed and secure at the back of the pack, where you have the most support to carry it easily.
This bag has three exterior pockets with zippers as well as several interior pockets that you can use to sort and organize your belongings. It’s made of a synthetic material that’s designed to be comfortable and easily breathable at the same time.
There is plenty of cushion as well as ventilation and you get plenty of security to make sure that everything is going to be protected in case of bad weather.
- Comfy straps
- Side food storage
- Has inside pouch pockets
- Large bladder great for longer trips
- Material is thin
Related: Customers who buy this backpack also buy it together with the Crank Brothers Bicycle Tool and CO2 Inflator Tire Pump. The bicycle comes with 19 tools for common road and trail side repairs. This includes screw drivers, wrenches, T-25 Torx driver and much more. With the CO2 Inflator pump you can inflate your tire in a matter of seconds. The pump has safe and secure connections and is without leaks.
Price: Approx. $13
Weight: 0.15 pounds
Dimensions: 3.7 x 1 x 1 inches
Specific features: Lightweight, lithium metal batteries, 300 lumens, beam up to 600 ft. multi beam options
Best use: Distance, travel in the dark
Description: If you need to be able to see what’s coming at you from 600 feet away you are definitely looking for the J5 Tactical Flashlight. This light is able to give you plenty of options when it comes to how well you want to see and in which ways.
You can easily set it to strobe modes or high and low intensity beams. You’ll also have no need to worry about the durability of this unit because it’s designed to withstand a whole lot of force and impact.
Available in six different colors, you can get this beam in your favorites with no problems. You’ll also be able to use it with AA batteries or a rechargeable battery if you prefer. With just one battery it will run for several hours with no problems.
The light itself is small and handheld or can clip to your belt to carry at all times. No matter what you intend to use it for it’s inexpensive and will help you see no matter where you are or what’s going on outside. This is one light you’re definitely going to want to have with you at all times.
- Easily fits on palm
- Great price
- Light weight
- Easy to use one handed
- Comes in a small packaging
Related: What is an outdoor activity without the right gear? Customers who buy the J5 flashlight are advised to also buy the TAC Force Folding Knife and the Gerber Suspension Multi-plier. The spring assist folding knife safely locks into place and comes with a pocket clip for easy carry. The multi-plier has 12 integrated components and also includes a ballistic nylon sheath.
Price: Approx. $35
Weight: 1 pound
Dimensions: 6 x 3 x 3 inches
Specific features: Stainless steel, 30 oz, keeps things hot/cold for hours, BPA free
Best use: Traveling, hot and cold beverages
Description: If you are heading out into the wilderness you’re always going to need to have something to drink and this Yeti Rambler Tumbler is going to help you with that with no problems at all. It can hold hot or cold beverages and keep them that way for several hours at a time so you can carry it with you while you’re walking.
It’s made with kitchen-grade stainless steel so you don’t have to worry about anything in it including BPA, because there isn’t anything. There is a clear lid for the top to keep you from spilling while still letting you see how much is left.
The double wall vacuum insulation is what keeps the temperature just the way you want though the tumbler does not have any kind of handle attached. You’ll have to get one separately if that’s important for carrying.
What’s great though is this tumbler can be used whether you’re heading out on some kind of trip or you’re sticking around home and need a way to take your coffee with you to work.
- Great design
- Does not keep things cool for long
Related: This tumbler is the perfect item to gift anyone. But it should not stop with that. Customers also buy the Grip-It YETI Tumbler Cup Handle. You can now forget about spills thanks to the two ring design which holds your tumbler at the top and bottom. It is extra firm and very secure. The grips are very colorful and will wow you out.
No matter what your plans are for your trip you want to make sure you have all the gear you’re going to need. That gear is going to be the difference between a fun trip with your friends and/or family and a miserable experience that you may even struggle to make it through.
These pieces of equipment and gear are some of our favorites, but we also want to hear more from you. What are your must-have pieces when you head out on a backpacking trip? What do you recommend to always have?