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Backpacking and Camping: Back to Basics

Tent for Camping, Backpacking, and Hiking in the mountains.

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You’ve got the tent, you’ve packed the rucksack…but have you thought of everything for a trip into the back country? Back country backpacking is where you head off into the ‘back of beyond,’ where a credit card is not going to buy you a way out of any trouble. You need to remember there may not be any sign of civilization for miles – and so you must choose your equipment accordingly. Traveling light is one thing, but you’ll need to remember the basics if your trip is to be safe and enjoyable. Define your needs when it comes to choosing your tent – how many does it need to sleep; what temperatures will you be facing; how well does it pack down for carrying? Can it be split up between two, three or four people? As a general rule, reckon on carrying around one kilo of tent equipment each for optimum comfort. So two of you can go for a 2-man, 2-kilo tent (Wild Country Zephyros 2 is an example,) three of you a 3-people, 3-kilo tent (MSR Elbow Room,) or four people a 4-person, 4-kilo version(Vango Equinox 450.) Select your rucksack with care too. Comfort is paramount on a long hike – consider the back carrying system carefully to minimize the strain on your back and shoulders. A hip belt will help alleviate the pressure on your shoulders and upper torso. Sleeping mats add to the comfort factor – and a good night’s rest will mean a fresher start the following day. Thermarest have a comprehensive range of sleeping mattresses to meet varying conditions.

Work Out Your Needs

Sleeping bags vary in warmth, weight and pack size – again, work out your needs according to probable temperatures and carrying capacity. A reliable compass or hand-help GPS is essential. Getting lost in the wilderness could be a disaster in waiting. Cooking equipment on a multi-day trip will ensure regular hot food and drinks. A good-quality cooking stove like the Trangia 25 or 27 includes a pan set for between two and four people. Just add water – and the requisite dehydrated pack or boil in a bag! A head lamp or hand held torch is a given. So too is a multi-tool. Leatherman and Wenger have an answer to most potential problems with pliers, knife, scissors, saw – and corkscrew! – all possible options. First aid kit, including plasters, bandages and sterile wipes. Waterproof matches and a small candle in case of torch failure. Water sterilizing tablets. Emergency whistle. A length of rope – always handy, just in case.

  • Always carry enough liquids; dehydration is a constant danger on long treks
  • Remember, a mobile phone may not always get a signal in remote areas

Nicki Williams writes for camping and outdoor specialists Gear-Zone, where you’ll find everything you need for a trip into the back country. Picture source: Compfight

Originally published 2012/07/13. 

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