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Backpacking gear guide
Have you ever gone camping or backpacking before?
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.
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.
Get a good pack.
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.
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 número UNO!
I've been in a few situations pretty close to this and trust me, you want the right equipment:
- 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!
- COMPASS. For those times you don't have a GPS to back you up.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 situation....it sometimes happens.
- 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.
- SLEEPING BAG. Don't go all Wal-mart cheap for this. Spend good money.
- SLEEPING PAD. The cushioning between your back and jagged rocks at night. Goes underneath the sleeping bag.
- SWISS ARMY KNIFE. For those times a survival knife just won't cut it.
- WATERPROOF MATCHES.
- FLINT. In case 10 or 11 don't work!
- 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.
- FLASHLIGHT. You might have one on your phone, but what happens when your phone breaks?
- EXTRA BATTERIES.
- 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.
- 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.
- WATER PURIFICATION TABLETS. I had these, still caught a parasite. You still want them just in case.
- BUG REPELLANT. Try to get one with as much DEET as you can. The bugs can't stand it.
- STUFF SACKS. Bags that will compress things like your sleeping bag down to a much more manageable size.
- TICK REMOVER. Unless you're okay with using tweezers....or a knife to remove them (like I have), then get this.
- FIRST AID KIT. Travel size, make sure it includes a Snake Bit kit, If it doesn't, get that on the side.
A MAN'S GOTTA EAT.
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?
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 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. SAS Survival guide
Now get out there and see the world!
Kasman will return with another hub soon.