Category Archives for "Gear"
I don’t know about you but when I close my eyes and picture a hiker, I visualize someone carrying a pack in the woods or mountains. The backpack is pretty much iconic when you are talking about hikers, mountaineers, bushcrafters, adventurers, soldiers and others who head out into the great outdoors. There is usually a picture of some cat standing on some majestic summit, pointing to the horizon or something dramatic like that or someone in the woods and that invokes our sense of adventure and we want to be like him and head out to the hills ASAP. And once we get there, it is awesome!
As a beginning hiker, you may be a bit confused on what to take. And it CAN be confusing. There are a wide variety of different manufacturers. There are different categories… regular hiking packs, alpinist/mountaineering packs, ultralight packs, etc.
I have divided this guide into 2 major categories: Day packs and weekend/overnight packs which you can bring if you are planning to be out hiking for the weekend. Obviously, you would need a slightly bigger pack since you would need to carry shelter, sleeping bag, more food etc.
Most of the packs in this guide are $50 or less. Some of them are slightly more costly. You can decide what your budget is and go from there. As a newer hiker, you do not need to spend a lot of money at this point. As your skills and knowledge increase, you will be able to better decide what gear you would like to obtain and make informed decisions better – based on experience – in the future. At that point, it will make sense to get something a bit more custom/expensive. However, all the packs in the below list should last you a very long time.
Something you can start with right off the bat is a good old book bag. Something fairly cheap like a Jansport. You may already have something like this lying around the house.
The Jansport SuperBreak has been around for 35+ years and is one of the top selling packs. You have probably seen this around specially if you have seen students walking around. You may already have this or maybe you have a school going family member who owns one. There is a reason, why the Superbreak is #1 on this list. 🙂
Osprey make great packs! This company has been around forever and they specialize in making backpacks of all kinds and sizes which are used by hikers around the world. The Daylite Plus is a solid choice.
Deuter is another company that is well known for its backpacks. It is a German company that has been around since 1898 and has some great designs and awesome gear that they manufacture. I have seen packs from Deuter all over the world. The SpeedLite 20 is a great day hiker’s pack.
Sea To Summit is known for their well-made and affordable equipment that is also lightweight. The Ultra Sil backpack is made of Silnylon as the name suggests and that is a very lightweight and water resistant material. This pack compresses to a very small size and can be easily carried in your jacket pocket or purse.
Another great pack from Osprey! The Talon 22 has good reviews from many different people who are familiar with the pack and have used it extensively.
Camelbak has been around forever and is well known for their bladder systems. They also make great backpacks and the Fourteener is a good example of this. This pack has a wonderful back panel which makes hiking on warmer days much more easier due to the ventilation that it allows. Also the pack is very versatile and you can easily attach skis, ice axes, hiking poles etc. Definitely this pack is worth looking at when making a purchase decision.
Another pack from Deuter. This one is different then the Speedlite mentioned above. It is bigger and thus you can carry more gear for longer hikes. It has an integrated and detachable rain cover and good hip belts and shoulder straps. There is also a bottom compartment where you can store rain jackets and other gear (for example to separate it from the main compartment if the jacket is wet etc)
MLD was started by a former Search and Rescue Climber and the products from this company are extremely high quality. Designed and manufactured in the US, they are super lightweight and durable. We will be talking more about their products in future posts. The Core 22 is a great pack for multiple activities, climbing, hiking, skiing and summits. It also works great as a travel and carry-on pack. You can get it constructed with some custom features like a larger hip belt (if you plan on carrying heavier loads)
This is a well known cult classic from the outdoor retailer geniuses at REI. The pack is very lightweight and extremely versatile. I have used mine for hiking, traveling, biking and as a gym bag as well.
As you can tell, there are a ton of options out there. I have not covered most of them but these are the ones based on my own experience as well as market research, I can recommend starting out with. It would be worthwhile for you to check out these packs further. The main thing is to “Get out there!” – Gear is secondary (however, necessary). So get out there. Let me know if you have any questions. I will get back to you if I can help.
As I mentioned earlier, you do not need a lot to get started. However, if you are venturing out for longer trips
and away from civilization, you do need to carry some stuff. Most of the stuff I list below, you will most likely
already have at home. There is no need to run out at this point and spend a lot of money on expensive, high-tech
If you take one thing, take water. A human being can survive a few days without food but not very long without water.
So it is critical to have enough. The best way is to get a waterbottle or 2 , maybe a liter each. You can buy
some bottled water or just take a water bottle from home. Sometimes, I like to add some lemon or lime and a bit
of good quality sea-salt – tastes great and replenishes electrolytes.
Food is a vast topic and I have written a bit about and will write a lot more. However, it is good to have a high-calorie
snack such as
– Pita with Peanut butter
– Cheddar cheese
– Dried mangos
If you are venturing into territory that you are not familiar with, it is good to have some navigation aid and
knowledge on how to use them. These days, many phones have a built in GPS. However, make sure to download a map
of the area you are going to since you may not get cell phone signal. Also, have a backup plan if the battery dies.
Paper maps, analog compasses etc can help
I remember a time when I was the only person in a party of 3 with a first-aid kit and someone started getting a blister
very early on in the trip. If I didnt have a kit with moleskin in it, that trip may have to be cut short.
What ended up happening was that this person put on moleskin on her blister hot spot and was able to proceed further
and we had a successful trip. The first-aid kit doesn’t need to be too complicated for shorter trips , close to help
but if you are going further afield, make sure you have adequate supplies. I will cover this at a later date.
As Dogulas Adams said in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, “a towel is about the most massively useful thing an
interstellar hitchiker can have.”. Well, a bandanna is a very useful thing that you as a earthbound hiker
can have 🙂 . Some uses:
– Sun protection/head protection
– Breathing mask
– Washcloth / Towel
– Water filter
and literally hundreds of potential uses more
This can be handy to have in a survival situation if you need to get a fire going. Leave no trace asks us to minimize
starting fires wherever possible but nothing beats sitting around a nice, hot campfire on a chilly evening and looking
at the stars.
Rain jacket, insulating layers (fleece, down jacket), gloves if its fall or winter, hats, a pair of dry socks if your
feet get wet ..stuff like that. I will write a lot more about this.
– Flashlight / headlamp or other lightsource
If you happen to run late and it starts getting dark, this is essential to have and I highly recommend that you carry it
every time you venture out in the wilderness. Make sure the batteries are new-ish and work before you start your hike.
If you are above tree-line, in the snow or in the sun, these are essential
Multiple uses, shelter in a pinch, liner for backpack in case of rain, carry your trash out (leave no trace)
I will expand on this stuff in future posts but this should get you started!
Let me know if you have anything else that you bring with you that you consider as an essential!