10 Essentials for the Best Camping and Backpacking Experience

Camping and Backpacking Experience

If you’re planning on camping or backpacking in the near future, you’ll want to have these ten essentials packed in your bag. Trust us, these items will come in handy when you need them most!

1) Water

You can live three weeks without food, but only three days without water. Stay hydrated! If you’re planning on hiking or camping in hot weather (which you should be if you want to enjoy yourself), make sure to bring plenty of water with you. A gallon of water per person per day is ideal, especially if your campsite is located up a mountain or more than 10 miles from civilization. Don’t forget that staying hydrated means more than just drinking water—eating foods like cucumbers, celery, lettuce, and oranges helps too! Carrying along a filter can ensure that your body doesn’t have to deal with pollutants found in some lakes or rivers.

2) Shelter

When it comes to camping, there are two types of people: those who go in a tent, and those who go in a hammock. But if you’re planning on backpacking, then your shelter options will be limited by weight as well as cost. In that case, a three-season tent is likely your best bet for comfort because they provide bug protection without being too heavy. And if you’re going car camping or hiking trails where you can carry extra weight, a four-season mountaineering tent could mean staying dry during heavy rain or snow.

3) First Aid Kit

A good first aid kit is essential when camping. Hopefully, you’ll never need it, but if something does happen (like an allergic reaction to poison ivy) it’s good to have all of your bases covered. Check out our post on how to build a DIY travel first aid kit. Oh, and don’t forget some anti-itch cream for that inevitable case of poison ivy!

4) Food

You’ll probably be away from refrigeration, so remember non-perishable foods that don’t need water to cook. Make sure you have enough food to last your entire trip. Don’t forget snacks! Comfortable clothing: The temperature will most likely vary throughout your trip, so make sure you dress accordingly. 

You don’t want to arrive at your destination freezing cold or uncomfortably hot. Try layering different materials, which makes it easier to adjust as needed. Water bottle: Be sure to bring a water bottle with you on every hike—dehydration is no fun! First aid kit: Make sure to include items such as bandages, tweezers, sunscreen, and antiseptic wipes in your first aid kit if necessary.

5) Flashlight or Headlamp

Most people think of a flashlight when they consider camping gear, but a headlamp is actually much more convenient. It allows you to keep your hands free, which is especially helpful if you're cooking or working on something in front of your tent at night. Most headlamps come with multiple settings: white light, red (for preserving night vision), and flashing (handy in case someone else needs to see where you are). Flashlights also tend to be heavier than headlamps. If you don't camp often, or plan on using your camp light occasionally only during emergencies, a traditional flashlight may make more sense. But if it's camping season all year long (or winter), go with a well-reviewed headlamp.

6) Lighter/Matches

Lighters are easy to forget when you go camping, but make sure you never go without one. It’s often best to keep one in your pocket or tent. Matches might be better than a lighter if there’s any chance of rain since they can get wet (just don’t lose them). You can buy waterproof matches that will still light up even if they get wet. If matches aren’t an option, bring waterproof lighters.

7) Navigation Tools (Maps & Compass)

One of my favorite things about hiking is being able to enjoy nature without being tied to technology. However, there are definitely times when it’s worth bringing along a smartphone or GPS navigation device. Whether you’re navigating with maps or relying on satellite signals, it’s important to have a compass handy. This can help you avoid getting lost or keeping your bearings while moving between different locations; it’s essential if you get separated from your friends while backpacking. My advice is to always bring along a compass (and know how to use it) whenever you head into wilderness areas, especially if you're trying some off-trail exploring or heading out on overnight hikes.

8) Toiletries/Hygiene Products

No matter how minimalist you plan to be, toiletries and hygiene products will always come in handy. For example, most wilderness areas forbid people from digging holes to defecate in, so having a toilet paper substitute is crucial. Don’t forget hand sanitizer, wet wipes (for cleaning your hands or other parts of your body), etc. You can also include things like sunscreen, bug spray, band-aids, etc.

9) Emergency Gear (Fire Starters, Paracord, Signaling Device...)

While none of these are true essentials, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that it’s important to know how to start a fire. It could save your life. A flashlight is also useful. On camping trips, I always carry a small whistle because you can use it to signal rescuers if you get lost or disoriented.

Conclusion

No matter what your opinion is on camping or backpacking, you can’t deny that there are a few fundamentals to make it more enjoyable. It may seem obvious but some items, like a way to start a fire, can easily be overlooked. Here’s a list of 10 essentials that will make your next camping or backpacking experience fantastic. If you have more tips or tricks please leave them in the comments below!

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