If you’re looking for an adventure that will well and truly propel you out of your comfort zone and get you doing things you never thought you would, you can’t beat an extended period of hiking in the wilderness.
Image Source: Josh Evnin (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Wilderness trips, whether in the National Parks of America, the wilds of Scotland or the Bush in Australia, will push you to your limits and enable you to see the most amazing things, but what exactly do you pack?
If you’re backpacking, it is important that you don’t overload yourself with gear, as it will make it more difficult for you to hike comfortably. That being said, there are a number of items that are essential if you want to make your way safely through wild terrain.
Here are the most important things you should make room for in your pack:
Before you can actually pack for your wilderness trip, you will, of course, need to purchase a reliable backpack. When you’re hiking for a long period, you will want to choose a pack that has a frame for support, and which has a capacity of around 60 litres, so that you can fit in all of the essentials. Ideally, your pack of choice should also have an adjustable hip belt, so that you can carry it with comfort. For more guidance on selecting a backpack, check out this top backpacks buying guide.
If you don’t want to be at the mercy of the elements, you will, of course, want to pack a decent tent. You should choose one which is lightweight, strong and easy to set up. If you are looking to lower the weight of your pack, and you have no problem sleeping on the ground, you could just pack a tarp for shelter, but a tent will give you more comfort and protection.
A Sleeping Bag
Pick a sleeping bag that has been specifically designed to be carried in a backpack; one that will fold up well and compress into a small space. You should also be sure to choose a sleeping bag that is right for the season you’re hiking in, which will vary depending on where you are travelling. If you aren’t sure which sleeping bag would be best for you, it would be a good idea to consult the sellers, who should be able to point you in the right direction.
When you’re out in the wilderness, you never know what kind of conditions you’re going to be confronted with, so packing clothes that can be layered up is essential. Try to pack a mixture of long and short sleeved items, trousers and shorts, so that you always have something suitable to put on.
You should also aim only to bring clothes which can be dried quickly, and ideally, you should also bring along a dry bag for storage.
A good torch, like a tactical flashlight, is another essential. It will help you to see in the dark and could be the only thing to stop you from falling down a hole or stepping into a river when darkness descends.
A First-Aid Kit
Accidents happen, and you don’t want to be unprepared if they do, which is why it is vital that you bring along essential first aid items, including bandages and antibacterial wash, allergy medicine and painkillers.
You will also want to pack the basics of personal hygiene. A toothbrush and toothpaste, tampons and the all-important toilet paper should be all that’s required, after all, you’ll be miles away from civilisation, so it doesn’t matter of you get a bit dirty on your trip.
If you don’t want to spend your entire trip going around in circles and visiting all the wrong places, you’d do well to invest in a map or guide book, which will help you get around and point out the most spectacular locations on your trip.
When it comes to cooking, you should pack as light as possible. As a minimum, you will probably need a cooking pot, a camping stove, a lighter and a food bag containing enough food for the duration of your trip.
You will need at least three litres of water bottles with you at all times, so ensure that you clear enough space in your pack to meet this requirement, otherwise, you could be putting yourself at risk of dehydration, particularly if you are hiking in high temperatures.
As you are going to be outdoors for the majority of the day, you will want to ensure that you have adequate protection against the sun, which means not only packing a good sunscreen but also bringing along some sunglasses and perhaps a sun hat, if you have space in your pack.
As well as a map, you should probably pack a compass if you don’t want to get lost. When all else fails, a compass will usually help you find your way again and stop you heading in the wrong direction for too long.
When you’re hiking, a good penknife can be an invaluable tool. You can use it to open cans of foods, free yourself should you get trapped, cut down branches and so much more. It is one of the tools that should never be missing from your backpack.
If you’re travelling with items that could become broken, such as hiking boots, inflatable mattresses, etc., it’s never a bad idea to pack the relevant repair kits, including multi-tools and tape, so that you can easily do a quick fix-up should the worst happen.
A Sense of Adventure
Of course, the most important thing you can pack when you’re off on a wilderness hiking trip is a sense of adventure. You will get the most out of your trip if you are willing to embrace wild living, be brave and do things that many people would shy away from. A wilderness hike can be life changing, but only if you let it work its magic on you and yield to the experience!