Pack Your Bags: Spring Backpacking

Spring is a great time to hit the trails.  The weather is warm, but not too hot and the creeks are overflowing with water.  Lots of water is a good thing.  That means you’ll have enough to drink, cook and wash with.  Nothing is worse than hiking to a campsite and realizing the creek has run dry.  Backpacking may seem a little intimidating if you have never gone before, but by the time you finish reading this post, you’ll realize you can do it to!

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In this segment of Pack Your Bags, we’ll cover everything you need in your pack for a weekend trip.  In the future we will fill you in on some basic backpacking 101 information as well as what to eat on the trail.  If you are preparing for your first hike, make it an easy overnighter.  That way you will get a feel for hiking and have a better idea of what it entails for future weekend-long hikes.

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This list will differ a little bit depending on your location.  Some things are optional (the mp3 player is an obvious one) and others are replaceable (if you don’t have a camelback, take a couple drink bottles and a platypus instead).  As you can see, I like to pack all my gear in smaller bags before putting it in my pack.  It’s easier to navigate your gear this way and the extra bags come in handy if you ever need a bag for something else like dirty clothes or a makeshift pillow.  I also like to use plastic bags to ensure nothing gets damp.  Like I said, Spring is wet, which makes it a great time to waterproof all your equipment from your boots to your tent.  Always check the weather before departing and plan your clothing and shelter accordingly.  I like to wear brightly colored clothing in case there are any hunters in the woods.  BTW, you won’t see everything on the list in the photos, but I do take most items along on every hike.  Once you go on a hike or two, you’ll create your own list and realize what’s important for your comfort and safety on the trail.

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What gear to pack:

  • Pack and rain cover (take a couple trash bags if your pack does not have a rain cover)
  • Shelter: Tent, ground cloth, and stakes OR hammock & stakes OR tarp, rope and stakes
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Sitting pad (optional)
  • Cook set
  • Stove
  • Fuel
  • Drink bottle
  • Camelback or Platypus
  • Spoon
  • Cup
  • Soap
  • Scrubby
  • Towel (I use a washcloth)
  • Food bag
  • Water treatment tablets
  • Lighters and strike anywhere matches
  • Fire starters
  • Toilet paper
  • Trowel
  • Essential (to you) Toiletries (ie: toothpaste, toothbrush, brush, deodorant chapstick, lotion, extra hair ties)
  • Knife
  • Headlamp
  • Rope (I take a bracelet that can be cut and unwound if necessary)
  • Zip ties
  • Space blanket
  • Map
  • Compass
  • GPS (I don’t have one, but if you have a smart phone, you do!)
  • Camera, battery and memory cards
  • iPod and headphones
  • Sunglasses
  • Binoculars
  • Guide books, journal and pen
  • Walking stick

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What clothes to pack:

  • Boots and camp shoes
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Nylon shorts
  • Nylon pants
  • Tee shirt and tanktop
  • Bandana
  • Cap
  • Fleece hat
  • Fleece top, lightweight
  • Rain jacket
  • Rain pants
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Do you think you have what it takes (literally) to go on an overnight or weekend backpacking trip?  Some items like the pack, tent, sleeping bag and stove are obviously essential.  If you do not own those items, ask a friend, chances are they have what you need.  If your friend is an experienced hiker, they might even have multiple packs and pieces of essential gear that they would be willing to let you borrow. Heck, they might evenwant to join you on your first trip!  If you don’t know anyone who hikes, most outdoors stores even rent packs, tents and other equipment!  Check back in the coming weeks for advice on what food to take and our backpacking 101 guide.  Happy trails!
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