The 10 Essentials of Backpacking

June 18, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Hey Yall! Hope everyone is doing fine this week. This week I wanted to cover the 10 essentials of things that you need to carry when you're hiking or backpacking. It seems to me that these essentials were brought up by the Boy Scouts a long time ago but are true and tried things that you need to have with you. I will go over these 10 essentials, but keep in mind that you can go overboard on some of these items. These are things that you have to decide for yourself. 

1. Navigation - Some type of navigation, whether it be a map and compass or GPS, is needed.  This will keep you from getting lost. I also suggest that you have a backup if you're using a phone or a GPS in case the battery goes dead. The backup would be a paper map of some kind. It doesn't need to be an elaborate map, just one that can get you out of the woods if you get lost. I use my phone and a map that I have printed out and I carry a small compass just so I know where north is.

2. Sun Protection - When exposed to the elements, it is very easy to get sunburn or even heat stroke. Protecting your skin and eyes from the harsh sun is the goal. Sunblock, sunglasses, and a hat or long-sleeve sun shirt can protect these areas. I carry a small amount of sunblock in a pouch and wear a hat and long sleeves.

3. Insulation - Insulation includes a jacket, gloves, rain shell, and thermal underwear. These essentials can make the difference between getting hypothermia or being cozy at camp. You can spend a lot of money on this one, but you don't have to. There are some good items that you can substitute for jackets and gloves.

4.Illumination - Guess what? It gets dark when the sun goes down in the wilderness. So some sort of light is needed. I use a headlamp, but there are all kinds of flashlights and lanterns that can be used.

5. First Aid and Supplies - This is one area that you can go overboard on or either not take enough. You need to make your first aid kit cater to you. If you're on medication, make sure you bring it. If you're allergic to bees, make sure you have an EpiPen with you. Also bring some pain killers, band aids, and Leukotape is great for blisters. Bring what you think you will need.

6. Fire Starter - Matches or a lighter are safety items.  A fire can keep you warm and can be used to signal for help.  You should know how to start a fire in the wilderness. Some type of fire starter, like lent from your dryer, works well to get a fire started. I carry 2 Bic lighters. One is in my cook kit, and the other is in my first aid kit with Leukotape wrapped around it. I also carry some fuel tablets just for starting a fire.  After you light one they will last for 10 min. or so, enough time to get a fire going.

7. Repair Kit and tools -  For backpacking, your repair kit could be in the form of duct tape and a knife. I carry a repair kit for my sleeping pad, and duct tape is wrapped around my trekking poles. I only carry one knife with me. It's a small Swiss Army knife that has some tools built in like scissors, all very small and lightweight. If you carry dental floss and a needle, you can use that to sew up tears in packs or clothing.

8. Nutrition -  You must carry food with you if you're doing a long hike or backpacking. If you're doing a hike, a simple power bar might do. But if you're going backpacking, you must carry meals to make sure you're at your best energy level when moving around in the wilderness.

9. Hydration - You need water to survive. Getting dehydrated can make you sick, and it's dangerous to your health. Either pack enough water with you to last the hike or backpacking trip, or carry a water filter. Water is the heaviest thing in your pack while backpacking, so being able to find water sources and using a water filter will lighten the amount of water that you need to carry.

10. Shelter - This can be in the form of some sort of emergency shelter or tarp if you're hiking, or a tent or hammock if you are backpacking.  If the weather gets bad and you end up in a storm, it's great to have a place to get out of the weather. This could prevent you from getting hypothermia. I use either a small tarp if I'm doing a long hike, or my tent or hammock for backpacking.

The 10 essentials, if used correctly, could save your life or the life of others while traveling in the wilderness. These can fit into a small bag if you're just hiking or could fill up your whole pack. Choose wisely and make sure you have some version of the 10 essentials with you when you're out exploring nature.  Until next week, get outside and explore!


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