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Backpacking gear guide

Updated on February 9, 2014
Backpacking in The middle of the desert in Mendoza, Argentina.
Backpacking in The middle of the desert in Mendoza, Argentina. | Source

Have you ever gone camping or backpacking before?

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Always be prepared.

If my time in the Boy Scouts proved anything to me, it was to be prepared for the unexpected. Honestly, while you can't prepare for 100 percent of everything, you can be ready for most situations that come up.

Okay Kas, I'll bite. What makes you so qualified to tell me what I need to bring or do while backpacking or traveling?

I'm so glad you asked!

As my profile states, I've been to several places around the world....from deserts in Argentina, forests in Brazil, to caves in New Zealand, etc. I'm not calling myself an expert, but I'm definitely experienced in backpacking and travel. Almost every trip I've taken anywhere in the world, I've had a hiking pack with me. The pack itself has proven quite invaluable in keeping my entire household together while living for months at a time out of it.

So if you've ever had the heart to travel and explore this beautifully good earth that God has given us to enjoy, then this hub is for you.

I'm going to detail different items and tips that have come in handy for survival and practical uses in traveling.

Ever seen the movie Cast Away? We filmed the sequel in New Zealand.
Ever seen the movie Cast Away? We filmed the sequel in New Zealand. | Source

First things first. Scout the terrain.

A good general never goes into battle without first looking at the battlefield. He will take note of the available waters sources nearby, the nooks and crannies the enemy can hide in, what kind of weather to expect, etc. You really need to know the layout of the land you're going to be traversing if you expect to prepare for it.

Admittedly, there are times you won't have the luxury of scouting out the terrain but you can still prepare for the the unexpected nonetheless. Here's a few tips to help:

  • Contact and network with people who know the area you're traveling to by heart. This could be a friend, a professional guide, someone who lives near the area, etc. Try to do this months in advance if possible. Great points of contact all around the world is YWAM (Youth with a mission). I've been to several around the world and I had an awesome couple of contacts while living in New Zealand who knew the rainforest area I wanted to travel in like the back of their hands.
  • Get a decent all weather map. This one seems obvious but you'd be surprised how many do not follow this step.
  • Study the area. Take special note of places that may serve as shelters in the case of natural disasters or emergencies. Caves are a particularly good spot, as long as you know that no bears are inhabiting them!
  • Find fresh water streams immediately. Water is the main thing you must concern yourself with at all times. Food you can go without for a while. Water......uh uh.
  • Make a plan. Map out the route you plan to take within a given timetable. Sure, things come up to disrupt it from time to time, but at least you have a guideline to go by and it keeps the headaches to a minimum if you end up in a pinch.
  • PRAY. I believe The Lord is my strength. So I personally ask for his blessing and protection on my travels and I've seen several miracles come out of this.

My team I helped lead in Chile.
My team I helped lead in Chile. | Source

Case by Case Essentials.

These are the tools you'll need depending on the time of year or known climate of the area you'll be traveling in. You might want to bring them anyway, but you can judge each situation accordingly.

  • SLEEVELESS VEST. I have a light "down" (feather) vest for those times I want to keep my "core" (upper-body) warm but keep my arms free.
  • JACKET. This is mainly for the colder climates. If you're going to be hiking through the mountains, you may still want to bring this.
  • HOODIE. Same applies to this. You may go into a more temperate climate that's warm during the day but cold at night. Again, judge at your own discretion.

On a mountain on the other side of the world.
On a mountain on the other side of the world. | Source
My friends face is completely eaten up and swelling from mosquito bites from the night before.
My friends face is completely eaten up and swelling from mosquito bites from the night before. | Source
Rainforest. | Source

Special travel tip.

Bring an extra backpack. I don't mean the large hiking bag type, just a small "carry-on" sized one that you can pack backup clothes and emergency stuff into. I have a small one made by NORTH FACE that folds up into almost nothing if I don't need it.

Reason for this: I've run into situations where someone's hiking pack was stolen or lost by airport personnel somewhere in the world, it would have been horrible if we didn't have a smaller copy of what was in the bigger bag with us already. JUST FYI.


An adventurer is only as good as his equipment.....and wits.

This is a maxim I try to live by personally. If you don't have the right tools, then you have to go into complete John-the-Baptist-survival mode. I'm talking eating locusts and honey, living directly off the land....and wearing camel hair belts. Now I like to think I'm as macho as the next guy and while this is very appealing to me, I don't prefer this as choice nĂºmero UNO!

I've been in a few situations pretty close to this and trust me, you want the right equipment:

  1. HIKING PACK. I personally have a blue KELTY. A very durable pack that that has served me well in many countries. It's now been in over 20 countries. Yeah baby!
  2. COMPASS. For those times you don't have a GPS to back you up.
  3. WATER BOTTLE (or 2). I have a Camelback water bottle that has served me well for many years now. I've taken it to many countries where it's seen it's fair share of harsh environments and drops from my hands. My wife carries a Nalgene bottle.
  4. CARABINERS. These are spring-loaded clips that you can use to hook anything onto your belt or bag for safe keeping. I personally use one to clip my water bottles. Get a few of these.
  5. SURVIVAL KNIFE. If you don't like knives but want to go backpacking in the wilderness...that needs to change quick, fast, and in a hurry. Make sure you get one with serrations in the blade for cutting rope. I've also had to kill my own food before in the wilderness, in a survival sometimes happens.
  6. 1 or 2 MAN TENT. This is a preference thing really but for size and compactness' sake, a 1 man tent is perfectly fine for this.
  7. SLEEPING BAG. Don't go all Wal-mart cheap for this. Spend good money.
  8. SLEEPING PAD. The cushioning between your back and jagged rocks at night. Goes underneath the sleeping bag.
  9. SWISS ARMY KNIFE. For those times a survival knife just won't cut it.
  12. FLINT. In case 10 or 11 don't work!
  13. ROPE. An indispensable piece of equipment. A good one to get is called Para-cord. This is handy especially if you need to hang laundry on a line.
  14. FLASHLIGHT. You might have one on your phone, but what happens when your phone breaks?
  16. MOSQUITO NET. Oh the stories I could tell you of the people I was with that didn't bring theirs to Argentina. I had 30 to 40 of the little vampires on my net at all times at night.
  17. ZIP-LOCK BAGS. You never know what you might need this for, from saving food from ants to keeping things like your electronics from getting wet.
  18. WATER PURIFICATION TABLETS. I had these, still caught a parasite. You still want them just in case.
  19. BUG REPELLANT. Try to get one with as much DEET as you can. The bugs can't stand it.
  20. STUFF SACKS. Bags that will compress things like your sleeping bag down to a much more manageable size.
  21. TICK REMOVER. Unless you're okay with using tweezers....or a knife to remove them (like I have), then get this.
  22. FIRST AID KIT. Travel size, make sure it includes a Snake Bit kit, If it doesn't, get that on the side.

Me trying to look smooth......with hay in my mouth. You know you love it.
Me trying to look smooth......with hay in my mouth. You know you love it. | Source


Make sure that you're well-stocked on food and utensils to eat with:

I would recommend for cooking (besides a campfire), the Jetboil camping stove. These things are lightweight, easy to set up and you could have coffee in less than 2 minutes if you wanted. Also, make sure you've got the utensils and cookware you need to eat with and on. Here's some good snacks and meals to bring with you:

  • Beef Jerky
  • Trail Mix.
  • Granola bars. I tend to prefer CLIF BARS, but to each his own.
  • MRE's. MEALS READY TO EAT. There are many various kinds to choose from.
  • MULTIVITAMIN. You absolutely need this as you may not get every vitamin and nutrient you need out in the wilderness.

Did the information and pictures make you want to go see the world?

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Final Thoughts.

Guys, everyone has their own thoughts as to what's best to bring on a trip. Most of what's listed, I've either brought myself or used because someone else brought it. Also remember, certain things on the list will change according to season and environmental conditions. Find what's right for you. Start by going to a Dick's Sporting Goods or Bass Pro Shop nearby and looking around.

Oh and one more thing, get yourself an SAS Survival guide as well. If you lose your pack or something happens to where you have to live off the land, this will come in handy. Make sure you get a pocket-sized edition.

Now get out there and see the world!

Kasman will return with another hub soon.

My wife and I at Castle Hill, a place they filmed parts of Lord of the Rings.
My wife and I at Castle Hill, a place they filmed parts of Lord of the Rings. | Source


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    • Kasman profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      Thanks for your comment heaven.

    • Kasman profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      You could still do it mperrottet! I believe there is no age limit on exploration! i hope you get to go to some fun places. Thanks for dropping in and voting!

    • Kasman profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      Astralrose, Glad to hear you're a fellow scout! That's a place I definitely would like to trek through, the Himalayas! Thanks so much for paying me a visit and enjoying my page!

    • Kasman profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      Brett, that's crazy. I've been caught in some wild situations before so I can kind of understand that one. I'm glad to hear that they are doing okay now. Wow. What part of the world were they in I wonder? Thanks so much for sharing and paying a visit brother!

    • mperrottet profile image

      Margaret Perrottet 

      5 years ago from San Antonio, FL

      Great article. My son and grandson do lots of backpacking, and it's something I always wanted to do, but never got the opportunity. You've been to some amazing places. Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • Astralrose profile image


      5 years ago from India

      Hey Kas, a girl scout here! Very informative hub for anyone who likes backpacking....I like trekking long distance too around Himalayas. Gonna do Roopkund and Satopanth (around 28 kms.) this year, those things you mentioned will never be miss!

      Voted up!

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 

      5 years ago from Asia

      Nice hub, a friend of mine should probably of read this before setting off hiking! They got lost, had to spend the night on a mountain in winter, got injured and were rescued late in the afternoon the following day when none of them turned up to work. I guess it was lucky they went Sunday and not Saturday morning. Thankfully they were OK and can 'almost' laugh about it now.

      Shared, pinned, tweeted, up, interesting and useful.

    • Kasman profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      You're right chef, it's definitely not easy at times, but it sure is exciting! Something about being in situations where you are almost forced to brave the wilderness is something I personally enjoy. It may seem weird to some, but I believe challenging yourself makes you better anyway.

      I wouldn't mind traveling the English woodlands, I have several friends from England. One of them lives in Coventry. I wonder how their woodlands are. Thanks for dropping by and the votes brother!

    • chef-de-jour profile image

      Andrew Spacey 

      5 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      OoooH lovely hub. Some very good tips and great passion for the outdoors reflected in your writing. Your travels have taken you to some wonderful wild places - a thrill in itself. But to set up camp and then have to think about staying fit, and with your wits intact, isn't easy.

      I love the mountains - just got back from Catalan Pyrenees - and the rolling English woodlands - and way back in my past did some light camping (well, I had a tent at a Bob Dylan and Lynard Skynd festival in 78?). There were some epic beards around then.

      Voted up and shared.

    • Kasman profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      Thanks a lot Tammy, I was raised to love the outdoors too. I've definitely engaged in it so much more over the past decade than I did as a child for sure. Funny enough, as I write this, I've just arrived in a nice spot in Texas that's kind of away from it all. Having another minor adventure on a business trip. Thanks for the stopby and the comment!

    • tammyswallow profile image


      5 years ago from North Carolina

      I was raised in an outdoor family where camping was second nature. I haven't done it in many years and I miss it so much. At least I can hike vicariously through your adventures. Your adventures are amazing! Great tips!

    • Kasman profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      Thanks for stopping by pinto2011! Yeah, survival and backpacking is some serious stuff. It shouldn't deter you, it should definitely excite you to see more of creation! The beauty of this world.....there's so much bad in the world that you should look for all the good. Nature has so much to offer us that will test us, try us, strengthen us. I appreciate your comments pinto!

    • pinto2011 profile image


      5 years ago from New Delhi, India

      I always feel wary for going to an adventurous trip but with your backpack tips, I can now grow the courage to venture out. Thanks for so useful tips.

    • Kasman profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      I really hope so. I love it when people take life by the horns and wrestle it down by engaging in the challenge rather than running from it. I hope you find some beauty in the trip! Thanks for commenting as always midge!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      Sorry it took a little long to come in, Kas! Yes, a great survival guide to backpacking! I'm about to pack mine and get moving now!

    • Kasman profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      I really like hiking through some of the country in Adams, TN.....but I also like hiking in the mountains anywhere I may be at the time. Relive those days! I'm here to motivate you to get up and get back to it! Thanks for stopping by and the votes khmazz!

    • khmazz profile image

      Kristen Mazzola 

      5 years ago from South Florida

      Great hub with fantastic info for a wonderful backpacking experience! When I lived in NC I would go on two day packing trip all the time! I miss those days so much! Voted Up!

    • Kasman profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      Thanks so much efficient admin! I can't even begin to tell you how much that stuff comes in handy as well as a can of 95 percent deer bugspray! I also would wear the thing over me as I would set up camp somewhere at times if the mosquito population was overpopulated! Thanks so much for stopping by and voting!

    • Kasman profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      Absolutely avail. I've been in situations where there wasn't much to eat or use and it makes you more appreciative of what you have. Also, Bear Grylls is huge in New Zealand, you could find his picture pretty much everywhere. The Lord has definitely taken me all over the world at's been a heck of a wild ride. I'm just preparing for the next great adventure sometime.

      Thanks so much for the dropby and the comment!

    • Efficient Admin profile image

      Efficient Admin 

      5 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      Awesome hub! I have never been backpacking but this article gives a lot of very useful information - especially the mosquito netting. I can't think of anything more miserable than waking up with all those ichy bumps! I will bookmark this hub in case I ever decide to backpa.......err I mean car camp. Voted up and across.

    • Availiasvision profile image

      Jennifer Arnett 

      5 years ago from California

      Wow, sounds like you've lived a very exciting life! I like Bear Gryll's motto of, "Know more, carry less." The items I can never have too many of while backpacking are carabiners and small plastic bags.

      After spending time living out of backpack doesn't it make you wonder what it would be like to own nothing else? Keep adventuring and serving the Lord!

    • Kasman profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      Thanks a lot Sheri. Nothing wrong with enjoying yourself in a resort! My wife and I had a condo on the beach in Destin, Florida for our honeymoon. Talk about relaxation. Get out there and find yourself a spot to travel to that challenges you to excite yourself. I hope it inspired you!

    • Kasman profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      Yeah Alastar, we all started out amateurs didn't we in our respective fields and scopes of life. I can honestly say I might be experienced in what I do, you're definitely the expert in terms of history my friend. Thanks so much for the votes and shares brother!

    • Sheri Faye profile image

      Sheri Dusseault 

      5 years ago from Chemainus. BC, Canada

      Great hub! My traveling has mostly been to resorts and sipping something fruity by a pool, but I am getting kind of bored with that. Your traveling sounds like a real adventure!

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 

      5 years ago from North Carolina

      Be prepared! Man, did I had that motto drilled into my young psyche. I'm just an amateur hiker but wow Kas your a pro and have hiked some fantastic spots in the world. This articles got great pics- dig the one of you looking cool, nice- and everything one needs to know and have for a successful trek with no problems due to any lack of preparedness. Votes up most definitely and the other goodies- awesome hub Kas! FB this too!

    • Kasman profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      Thanks so much MsDora! It took several years to get the experience, but what an experience it was! I appreciate your comments and votes! God bless!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      Kasman, you look and write like an expert. Thanks for sharing such good instructions and pictures. Voted Up!

    • Kasman profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      Thanks a lot Bill, my heart is to get people excited to start. If more people are doing it, more people will enjoy life more i believe. I know it's changed my life over time! Thanks so much for the comment brother, you're always appreciated!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great information, Kas! I used to do a ton of backpacking and I believe you have covered all the necessities.


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