Preparing for a backpacking trip

the outdoor student vol. I

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Let’s talk about backpacking. Backpacking can be great way to combine camping and hiking. Carrying all your gear with you and traversing the trail. However, your trip can go horribly wrong if you aren’t prepared. I recently went on one of my first backpacking experiences. I can say it was amazing, and I’m going to show you some of the steps I took to be prepared.

Planning the Trip

Don’t just go out there without a plan. Know where you are going  Leave your itinerary with someone you trust so that they will know where you are if something goes wrong.

Essential 10 items

Many experienced backpackers have a list of 10 essential items that you must have. I have compiled my own list of 10 essentials you need to bring.

  1. Navigation
  2. Sun Protection
  3. Insulation
  4. Illumination
  5. First-aid supplies
  6. Fire
  7. Repair kit and tools
  8. Nutrition
  9. Hydration
  10. Emergency shelter

(REI has a great article about the 10 essentials of backpacking here.)

Beyond these core items, you will want to bring some other things. A sleeping bag, food, stove/fuel, clothes, good boots, and cordage are a few examples.

How I packed for the 10 essentials

When I was backpacking, I was in a group. This helps us divvy up the supplies between us. In the case of navigation, I carried a compass, but other members of our crew had maps and GPS’s. For sun protection, I carried my trusty hat and sunglasses. I knew it was going to be hot, so I didn’t bother to pack a jacket or sweatshirt, but I made sure I packed my rain coat. I brought along a flashlight and headlamp for illumination, along with extra batteries. I carried a personal first aid kit and an emergency blanket. Matches and dryer lint are great for helping to start fires. I brought along paracord and my swiss army knife, a Victorinox Outrider if you’re curious, as my multitool. Nutrition along the trail is very important. Cliff bars, Kind Bars, Gu, Mio, and Beef Jerky are great for on the go energy. Probably the most important item on the list is hydration. I had a 100 oz. bladder in my pack, and a nalgene bottle as well. Finally, emergency shelter. In case I needed it, the emergency tarp would keep my dry and I had a hammock as well.

Keep in mind the 10 essentials are not the only items you should bring.

Packing the Bag

Another thing to discuss is how to pack your bag. You should always pack the heaviest items in the middle and close to your back. The lightest items should be on the bottom, and the medium weight should be on the top and outside. When I packed my bag, I had my clothes and small items on the bottom and sides, the food and cooking was in the middle, and rain gear and snacks were on the top.


That’s all for today.

– The Outdoor Student

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