Backpacking Essentials: Part 1
If you are wanting to seek the adventure of backpacking, but don’t know where to start, then this series of backpacking essentials articles are for you. It seems like backpacking is a simple enough idea, and that the gear is self explanatory. However, there are several items that may make your trip easier and more successful, that you might not know about if you have not actually spent several days living out of a backpack. We hope that we can help. Here is a three part list of backpacking essentials that you will need to keep in mind to keep your body going, and to ensure your health and safety out in the wild.
The first installment of backpacking essentials will look at what you need to put into your body to keep it functioning correctly. Namely, food and water.
Food is the easiest and most obvious essential that you need to take with you. There are so many great backpacking meals that you can buy now. Several companies make freeze dried meals, energy bars, or trail mixes, so it should be easy to stock up your backpack larder for the trip. Do some research, and read some reviews to find the most palatable options for you. I have found that after a long day of hiking with a heavy pack on your back, food tastes a lot better, so no need to worry about the flavor of a freeze dried entree. You will be so hungry that you will not care or notice. Another option is to look online for recipes, so that you can create your own meals to take.
If you want warm food, or to boil water, this is a great tool. Many parks and natural areas do not allow campfires (especially in high fire risk areas). The camp stove is a light and convenient item that can make your trip a lot more bearable. Don’t forget the fuel, and go easy on it while out on your expedition to avoid packing lots of heavy fuel cans.
Water is essential for life and to keep your body functioning properly, and the most important thing for wilderness survival. Additionally, water is also heavy to carry. If you are heading out on a backpacking trip, then you need a way to purify or process water to make it safe to drink. If you plan to pack all of your water in with you for a several day trip, then you are making your life harder than it needs to be. Plan your hike so that there are places along your route that you can fill up your water bottles. There are several effective ways of purifying water. The most pleasant and effective method, in my opinion, is a purification pump. This is a little pump that screws onto the top of most Nalgene type bottles, and you pump water through a pressurized filter to fill your bottle. Another method is Iodine or sodium chloride tablets. These are great for killing anything in your water, but they taste bad. They are a great backup if your pump breaks, and it is worth having them for just such an occasion. You can also boil water and fill your bottles the night before. However, this takes time and can be an issue when you are trying to take down some terrain and run out of water.
Any bottle will work for carrying water into the wilderness, but there is a reason that most hikers use Nalgene type bottles. They are super durable, they hold a decent amount of water, and they work with most water pumps. However, you don’t have to use the Nalgene brand because there are many companies that have begun making similar bottles. It’s also important to have more than one bottle, just in case.
These are the consumable considerations that you should address before setting out on your adventure. We hope that you have a better idea about how to prepare for your trek. Look for the next article in the Backpacking essentials series when we discuss the importance of your feet and skin.