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Backcountry Hiking Essential Gear

Hiking backcountry style is an activity where hikers basically spend a minimum of one night in the wilderness at allocated trail shelters or camp sites that are distances away from public roads. If you feel like you are prepared to try out camping for a change, you should do all required preparation prior to leaving and heading to rough country.

You have chosen your trail and have informed friends and family about your hiking plans, so the next necessary thing to do is to organize your camping requisites. Included in this article are several gear references for when you gather the essentials for your next outing.

Backcountry Hiking Gear List

  • Course Plotting Equipment

Before you get out of the house and head to your start point for your backcountry hiking trip, remember to carry important navigational tools with you like an updated map and a compass, especially if you’re a going off the beaten track. Maps can help you with difficult-to-track footpaths while a compass, once used in conjunction with a good map, can provide even better information about the tracks you are going to follow.

You can also take a handheld hiking GPS device with you since these devices are equipped with comprehensive topographic maps, can act as a compass and are built to endure hard knocks while you’re on the go. But take the ‘old school’ map and compass with you, as a backup in case your GPS device stops working.

An altimeter is also an excellent navigational tool to carry since it employs a barometric pressure. This barometric pressure can measure air pressure and specify near-estimates of the altitude.

  • First-Aid Necessities

SOL Origin Survival Kit backcountry first aid kit

SOL Origin Survival Kit

There are portable first-aid kits available in the market for hiking and camping purposes, but most folks customize their own implements to fit their needs.

A proper backcountry hiking first-aid kit must contain:

  • antibacterial ointment
  • antiseptic wipe
  • after bite wipe
  • blister treatments
  • different sizes of adhesive bandages
  • gauze pads
  • pain relief medication (Ibuprofen, aspirin)
  • adhesive tape
  • tweezers and scissors
  • pen and small paper pad
  • durable latex gloves
  • survival blankets (2 persons heatshields)

You can also carry a portable guidebook on first-aid measures. These books are usually available in most bookstores.

  • Water and Nutrition

Even if you’re only planning for a one-day backcountry-hiking trip, remember to take enough water and food with you. The amount of food you are going to pack along will rely on the length of your hike. With an overnight stay, prepared foods like granola and energy bars, trail mix, nuts, several pieces of fruit and beef jerky are low in calories yet will keep you filled up. Dehydrated food items will also keep your backpack light.

Water is a definite must, so be sure to carry at least 32 oz of H2O with you always. If bringing liters of water is not in your plans, bring along a water filter or chemical treatment for water with you. As much as possible, you must first refer to your map and recognize possible water resources that you can use.

Make an effort to get some H2O refills at your last water stop before continuing your journey.

  • Quick Shelter for Emergencies

Winter Hiking Tents Top 10 Best PickThere are times when certain events happen during a hike; you can get injured and stranded in the wilderness so it’s better to be prepared at all times so you can hack it come rain, shine or blustery winds. Carry a tent or a light tarp with you, emergency blankets and additional trash bags.

  • Sun Protection

Sunglasses are a sure shot; they provide protection from the harsh glare of the sun especially when you are doing day hikes or any hike on icy, snowy terrain. Get high-quality sunglasses with both UVA and UVB protection.

Sunscreen is also a must, the kind with high SPF factors and both UVA and UVB protection. The most recommended SPF factor would have to be SPF 30 so get a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. Lip balm formulated with those sun protection essentials are also a must-have.

Apply sunscreen every 2 hours, especially if you’re going on extended hikes under the hot sun.

There are also clothing made from fabrics with UPF or ultraviolet protection factor and they’re usually available on most hiking/backpacking gear stores.

  • Insulation

At times, the weather can be unpredictable in the wilderness, so be wise and pack extra clothing in your ‘pack just in case the weather turns for the worse. Standard additional clothing selections often include items like a hat with good insulation, a vest or jacket made from synthetic fabrics and extra underwear.

  • Light

Black Diamond Cosmo HeadlampHeadlamps are always the first choice of hikers for illuminating purposes since it’s light, portable, has longer battery life and requires hands-free set-up. Flashlights and portable lanterns are also worth packing up since some models cast strong beams and are very useful during emergencies.

Remember to keep extra batteries on hand in case your flashlight or lantern goes out.

  • Fire

If you’re going to bring matches, be sure that they are the waterproof kind or stored in a waterproof canister. Make sure that the matches are dry at all times. Bring along a lighter but it won’t hurt if you pack some matches too.

Building a fire can be a tad difficult at times, so it helps to bring along some materials that can help ignite a campfire; heat nuggets, dry tinder and candles are good recommendations.

  • Repair Equipment

A knife or multi-tool device like Swiss Army knives are excellent portable gear not only for first-aid, food prep and building a campfire but for repairs and emergencies as well. A good multi-tool includes the following; a foldout blade, foldout scissors, a lone or at least two flathead screwdrivers and a can opener.

A roll of duct tape can be a tad heavy to bring, but you can tote extra strips of it by wrapping enough swaths to your water bottle or any cylindrical object that it can cling to.

  • Other Must-Haves in the Backcountry

You can tote along handy bottles of insect repellent in lotion or spray forms or clothing with anti-insect properties. And for emergencies, a personal locator beacon during a crisis, some sort of communication device (two-way radios, cell phones), a signaling device (mirrors or a flashlight) and a whistle are great options.

A hiking trip in the backcountry is exciting to say the least, but you must also be well prepared for it. Many things can go wrong but with some essential gear and common sense, a backcountry hiking trip can be an adventure you’d want to experience over and over again.

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