Stepping into the backcountry for a hike or a night or two camping is always a thrilling and exciting experience. What will make your whole experience complete though, is bringing the right hiking and camping gear with you. You might use some of these essentials on short routine trips, but you have probably never thought much about them until you found yourself in a situation when you really needed one.
An essential hiking and camping gear list was assembled in the 30s by the Mountaineers – an organisation for outdoor adventurers and climbers, in order to help people prepare for emergency situations while away from civilization. Here are some of the items they suggest every camper/hiker should bring with them while in the backcountry.
You can either get a pre-assembled kit (in this case the manufacturers determine what you might need) or you can create one on your own and personalise it to suit your needs. Regardless, every kit should include treatments for blisters, bandages of various sizes, adhesive tapes, over-the-counter pain medication, paper and pen and several gauze pads. Nitrile gloves are also something you should consider taking with you. The components of the first-aid kit are mostly dependent on the nature of the trip you will take.
Sunglasses are highly recommended, and if you plan on taking longer trips during wintertime when there’s a lot of ice or snow, you’ll need extra-dark glacier glasses. The glasses you buy don’t have to be fashionable, they just need to be protective from UV lights. Besides glasses, get a bottle of sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 30 to protect your skin.
A compass is a vital tool if you get lost in the middle of nowhere. Your GPS devices may end up running out of battery or your phone might lose connection to the internet, which makes them somewhat unreliable. This doesn’t mean that they’re completely useless and you shouldn’t consider getting a GPS device with you though. For the longer, off-road trips, a topographic map can come in very handy as well.
If you take a trip when the sun goes down, you’ll need something to illuminate your path. Headlamps are a great choice when hiking through the backcountry because they free your hands and are relatively small and lightweight. LED flashlights are the next best thing as they offer powerful beams and are useful for signaling. There are many models out there and depending on how much you want to spend, the choices will vary.