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Backpacking gear. Here's where to talk about it all

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    There are always so many brands and options for gear, it’s hard to know where to start. Well here are a few places to start. Backpacks – there are two types of backpacks, internal and external frame. This is really preference. Generally, internal frames are less bulky, and fit mor snug. They give a little more freedom of movement for going off trail or climbing. External frame usually have more pockets and compartments, making organization easier. They also distribute weight better. They are more bulky, but if you are hiking on groomed trails, they work just fine. I think external would be a good choice for a beginner.

    Tents – tents are another thing that comes in high variety. Choosing a tent really depends on preference, what you are doing, and when you are doing it. There are free standing and non free standing tents. Free standing tents are usually a little heavier. The advantage is you don’t need to stake this tent down to set it up. More often than not, tents will be able to be staked down,so you can save some weight with a non free standing tent. Also, there are two people tents, if you have a partner that will split half the load, this might be the way to go. There are other options for tents, like hammock tents. Mainly, buy what you are comfortable with and what will best suit your trip

    Food. Don’t bring canned food! Other than that, freeze dried food, granola, oatmeal, and light foods are good to pack.

    Water filter. There are plenty of filters on the market. The ones you draw water through a filter, like a straw or squeeze bottle, usually are more effective, but they take too long with large groups. Pump filters and gravity filters work better for large groups. For myself on two people trips, the sawyer squeeze filter works nicely


    Bear spray. If you re packing in bear country, bring bear spray. Chances are you will never need to use it, but it doesn’t hurt to have. Just make sure it is out and easily accessible. Having at the bottom of you pack defeats the purpose.


    There is really a lot of gear out there. Camping stoves, pocket saws, stools, hatchets, fishing poles, and lots of little gadgets. Guess what, all of those things add weight to your pack. You can carry a saw, but you probably are using too much effort to saw thicker branches. It’s usually easier to just find smaller sticks that you can easily break by hand. If you can get by without it, don’t bring it, unless it is a fishing pole. If you have a collapsible pole, always bring it.


    Camping stoves. There are plenty of places you go, where a campfire isn’t an option. You pretty much have to rely on a cook stove. Being economical, I bought a pocket rocket. It’s affordable, small(like 4oz), and works great. It runs off isopro, a mixture of isobutane and propane. It doesn’t require a prime and works in colder weather. There are similar products on the market, and I suppose they all work the same. Some have wind guards, to use the heat more efficiently. I would say, with the pocket rocket, an 8oz canister would last me,by myself, a week. If you are going out with a bigger group I would recommend more along the lines of a whisperlite. It is a multi fuel stove (can still run off your isopro, plus kerosene, gasoline, and white gas), and is a little more heavy duty. You can boil almost three liters in ten minutes, serving everyone in one ore two runs, instead of everyone taking turns with the smaller stoves. The downside is they can be tricky. Using most gasses, you need to prime it, and it needs to bet set specifically for the gas you are using.


    Baby wipes. All I am going to say is baby wipes. You will thank me later.


    I will second that – and as a follow up, put baby wipes in your fishing bag, your hunting bag, your… gym bag… every bag.

    Place them in all bags!


    …diaper bag? Or do you make the babies use leaves?


    You know the answer to that…



    Camp shoes. It’s always good To have a pair of shoes or sandals for when you get to camp. It’s nice to be able to let your feet and boots air out after a long day’s hike. Sandals work fine because they are light, but I like to have my feet a little more protected. Plus, if you are doing water crossings, it’s better to have something that you can secure to your feet. The shoes I have are made by rugged shark. They make a few styles that are lightweight, and the pair i have only weighs 12oz. Here’s the link


    Now I normally don’t suggest instant coffee, but it’s not bad to have in the backwoods. It has minimal waste, and it is too easy to make. If that just won’t do, making tea bags with coffee grounds can be steeped in hot water. It may take a little while longer, and you end up with a bunch of used tea bags, but the results are better. You can certainly bring a percolator, but I think it takes up more space, weight, and time. Along with coffe, cocoa and tea are nice to have packed. Once you spend some time in the backcountry, you will find that these become real luxurys.


    Hmmm… instant coffee is a cool idea – although I have never thought to pre-load tea bags with it. Interesting concept. Even though it would take longer, I feel like this would be worth the hassle AHEAD of time for a bit of convenience.


    A friend made me aware of this little tool that can come in handy for coffee.

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