Backpacking requirements: gear, skills and more

The backpacker is staring at a hilly lakeContinuing the celebration of National Gate Outdoor Month, today we cover some essential backpacking gear, skills and preparation that will help ensure you are happy, healthy and back in one piece from your adventure.

Preparing for a backpacking trip can be daunting – there’s so much to think about! What will you eat How much water do you need? What animals could you encounter? Should you go to your local REI and grab a glimpse of everything, or can you just walk away with a shower curtain for shelter and change clothes like the famous Appalachian Trail hiker Grandma Getwood?

Really, all of these questions come up below: What in nature can kill you and how can you successfully avoid those things?

First and foremost, what you do ahead of time is the goal of survival. Other than that, you want to pack smart and not carry too much weight. Consolation is a consideration, too. Given a choice, even the most heartbroken of us would prefer not to be too hot, cold, hungry, thirsty, tired, itchy, sunburned, rash or blisters. Backpacking is tough enough without the extra discomfort.

This is not to scare you! Backpacking can be a real transformer – an opportunity to disconnect from the rigors of everyday life, explore places you can’t get in the car, test your physical and mental abilities, and reconnect with nature on a soul-deep level. Backpacking is all the more fruitful Because This challenging proper foundation prevents unnecessary trouble.

Backpacking checklist: What gear to bring

You can (and probably will) spend months researching the best ultralight gear, the most expensive options, and thinking about everything extra. It’s terribly funny and often overwhelming. The following is an overview of what you need.

Protection from material

  • Shelter and sleeping arrangements
  • A way of making fire
  • Sun protection
  • Clothing for all possible weather (opt for breathable fabric. Wool is a great option. It comes in different weights for hot and cold temperatures and you can wear it more than one day before it smells bad.)

Wildlife protection

  • Insect control spray
  • The flute
  • Beer spray, beer canister

Food and hydration

  • Ways to make water and drinking water (filters, iodine tablets)
  • Food
  • Cooking gear (oven, pan, utensils)
  • Electrolytes


  • Physical map of the area (not just your phone)
  • Compass
  • GPS unit (optional but recommended, especially in the deep desert)

Injuries and illnesses


  • Cosmetics (soap, toothbrush, etc.)
  • Bathroom accommodations (shovel, toilet paper, wag bag required)


  • Headlamps
  • Knife, multi tool
  • Duct tape, repair kit
  • Battery, charger
  • Cash, credit card (if you need to get back to civilization and buy food, gear or ride in your car)

Tips for backpacking

There’s more to backpacking than just throwing mega-bucks into gear, lacing your boots, and going out.

First, give yourself plenty of time to train. As I said in last week’s training post, backpacking is a tolerable phenomenon. As with any kind of patience achievement, you need to prepare your body (and mind) to face the physical (and emotional) challenges. Match your training with the situation you are about to face.

Learn how to use your gear. Practice setting up and lowering your tent. Campfire. Try your water filter and learn how to clean it separately. Find out which gear you have battery or charge and make sure you have enough power for your trip.

Start small and work your way up. Go out for two or three nights before attempting the 10-day epic by traveling the Pacific Crest Trail. If possible, befriend a more experienced backpacker who can help solve this first outing problem.

Outdoor skills required to master

Don’t set out without a practical knowledge of these skills that can save your life on the trail:

  • Survival strategies: How to create a fire (more than one way, ideally), how to create a basic shelter.
  • Wildlife Facing: Can you run between snakes, bears, mountain lions, scorpions, mice? Know what to do.
  • On: Be able to read an old school paper map and use a compass. Don’t just rely on GPS.
  • First Aid: Learn how to deal with cuts, sprains, burns, broken bones and stings until you need to go to the doctor or hospital.

Plan your camping meals and road meals

It takes a fair deal of planning to bring the right amount of food, as well as some trials and errors (another good reason to start with a small outing). The goal is to bring enough to sustain yourself without carrying more than you need. The general recommendation is 25 calories per pound of body weight per day, plus or minus 5 calories Depending on how difficult your trip will be.

Of course, conventional fuel advice does not apply to you if you are devoted to eating low-carb primal and keto. Whether you want to stick to your regular diet or expect to strategically add carbohydrates to provide extra omephs, it’s a good idea to practice fuel during your training hikes and short backpacking trips. Tolerant athletes have a saying: “There’s nothing new on race day.” In other words, don’t eat anything during the race that you didn’t use in training. This also applies here. Remember, your favorite at-home snacks don’t necessarily sit well when you’re eight miles on a hot climb with a heavy pack. Experiment with hydration and electrolytes while you are at it.

Try a few meal options before you go. Being able to sit down to a much-anticipated dinner at the end of a long day is very annoying, just for the discovery that you absolutely hate the dehydrated food you bring.

Here are some backpacking food and snack ideas to get you started.


Adventure awaits! And yes, there are many details before you go, but the plan can be fun. List the help of more seasoned backpackers. Use your wisdom. Learn from their mistakes. Maybe you can even borrow some gear to try before you buy.

Be prepared, but try not to over-think every decision. Don’t get so caught up in the minutiae (“Should I find trekking poles that weigh less than an ounce but rated only 3.5 stars?”) That you have an exciting mess while rolling around your trip. Remember, this is supposed to be fun.

However, extra thinking will not work. Each trip will be a learning experience. You will discover the things you love and the things you want to do differently. No matter how ready you are, there will always be surprises. Unexpected expectations are part of the adventure. Solve here and now to roll with the thrust and you will have a better experience.

Now go there and do something epic!

Backpacking for Newcomers – What’s your burning question?
Backpacking Veterans – What’s the best part of your advice?

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About the author

Lindsay Taylor, PhD, is a senior author and community manager on primary nutrition, a certified primary health instructor and co-author of three Kito Cookbooks.

As a writer at the Marx Daily Apple and leader of the affluent Cato Reset and the Primal Endurance community, Linds’ job is to help people learn what, why and how to lead a health-centric lifestyle. Prior to joining the primary team, he earned his Masters and PhD. In social and personality psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, where he also worked as a researcher and instructor.

Lindsay lives in Northern California with her husband and two sports-obsessed sons. In her spare time, she enjoys ultra running, triathlon, camping and play nights. Follow her on Instagram @theusefuldish as Lindsay tries to work on maintaining a healthy balance with work, family and endurance training and, above all, fun in life.

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