5 Delicious And Easy Backpacking Dinners

High quality, nutritious meals are a must while hiking in the backcountry. After a long day of burning calories on the trail, I can’t think of anything better than cooking a hot meal to replenish energy and boost morale. There are a lot of different options out there to choose from. On my backpacking trips, I like to have a few options when packing for a trip to mix up the menu a little. It is also nice to throw in a ready meal option like an MRE every now and then, but they can be on the heavy side and won’t really work so well in an ultralight situation. Let’s take a look at 5 delicious and easy backpacking dinners below.

Meal #1 – Spicy Fried Rice – Approximately 600 calories

Spicy Chicken Fried Rice

Fried rice is an excellent meal to have on the trail, and it isn’t as complicated as you might think. Here are the ingredients for this easy to make night one dinner:

  • 1 cup of [amazon_link id=”B001BGTRTW” target=”_blank” ]instant rice[/amazon_link]
  • 2 tablespoons of [amazon_link id=”B0097FOR8A” target=”_blank” ]dehydrated onions[/amazon_link]
  • ¼ cup of [amazon_link id=”B007C7D2D6″ target=”_blank” ]dehydrated peppers[/amazon_link] (of your choice, mix and match to add spice)
  • [amazon_link id=”B007JE8PMK” target=”_blank” ]Kikkoman fried rice mix[/amazon_link]
  • 1/8 tsp dried basil
    [amazon_link id=”B001QC336E” target=”_blank” ]Salt and pepper[/amazon_link] to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • .5 L water

Pack all of the dry ingredients in a gallon size freezer bag, shaking them up to mix well. When you’re ready to cook and eat, boil the water and add it to the bag directly (it is recommended to have the bag in another pot or bowl). Stir and cover for 5-10 minutes until everything is re-hydrated and cooked. Mix in the olive oil and it is read to eat with trail crackers.

Meal #2 – Mountain Chicken Pasta – Approximately 500 calories

[amazon_image id=”B000EXKS1E” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”large” ]Knorr Pasta Sides, Butter & Herb 4.4 oz (Pack of 12)[/amazon_image]

This is one of my favorite backcountry recipes. It is delicious and very easy to make on the trail. Here is the ingredient list:

  • [amazon_link id=”B000EXKS1E” target=”_blank” ]2 Knorr butter and herb pasta packets[/amazon_link] (8 total ounces)
  • 1 3-5 ounce packet of chicken
  • 3 ounces [amazon_link id=”B00CRL9HHM” target=”_blank” ]sun dried tomatoes[/amazon_link]
  • 5 ounces of [amazon_link id=”B001H8R00M” target=”_blank” ]grated parmesan cheese[/amazon_link]
  • 2 ounces of dehydrated onions
  • 2 ounces of dehydrated assorted peppers

Pack the tomatoes, pasta, parmesan cheese and all the other ingredients in separate bags, and keep the chicken in the pouch. When cooking, boil 1 cup of water and pour over the tomatoes. Let sit while you cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package. When 5 minutes remain, add the mixed herbs, dried veges and chicken to the pasta. Chop the tomatoes and add to the pasta. Pour in the cheese, stir, and enjoy!

Meal #3 – MRE Of Your Choice – Approximately 1250 calories

[amazon_image id=”B009ZIDU0U” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”large” ]MREs (Meals Ready-to-Eat) Genuine U.S. Military Surplus (1 Pack) Assorted Flavor[/amazon_image]

You’re probably thinking, “wait a minute, I wouldn’t count any MRE as delicious.” Maybe you’re right. But there are a few MRE options out there that I really don’t mind eating at all. You might even say I like them. But only in a certain context: the middle (or towards the end) night of a grueling backpacking trip. By this point, I’m usually expending more energy than I am taking in and in need of a surge of calories. This is what a full MRE meal offers. They aren’t lightweight (not dehydrated and full of water weight), don’t pack very well, and lack a bit of sophistication, but it’s hard to beat the per ounce caloric intake from an MRE. Throw in an MRE heater, and you don’t even need to get your stove or cooking gear out. It is the perfect mid-trip meal all around. A few that I enjoy include: beef stew, meat loaf with gravy, the beef patty, and spaghetti with meat sauce. Avoid the jambalaya, anything with ‘chicken’ in the title, and the tuna options.

[amazon_image id=”B00AB63708″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”large” ]MRE (Meals, Ready to Eat) – Two Course Fresh MREs with Heaters – 5 Year Shelf Life (Pack of 6)[/amazon_image]

[amazon_image id=”B007RZ804E” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”large” ]Case of 12 MRE Entrees from Meals Ready to Eat[/amazon_image]

 

Meal #4 – Cheesy Potatoes – Approximately 500 calories

[amazon_image id=”B00I4KUDDW” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”large” ]Idahoan Real Mashed Gable Carton, Premium, 52 Ounce[/amazon_image]

Instant potatoes are a common staple for backpacking because they cook ‘instantly’ and are filling and hearty. My cheesy potatoes recipe is easy and requires the following ingredients:

  • 2 ¼ cups of [amazon_link id=”B00I4KUDDW” target=”_blank” ]instant mashed potatoes[/amazon_link]
  • ½ cup of [amazon_link id=”B004VITI0K” target=”_blank” ]instant dry milk[/amazon_link]
  • 1 cup of [amazon_link id=”B001EQ5AU4″ target=”_blank” ]crumbled bacon[/amazon_link]
  • 1 package of [amazon_link id=”B000F9ZM7M” target=”_blank” ]powdered cheese spread[/amazon_link]
  • 2 tbsp dried onions
  • 2 tbsp dried parsley
  • 2 tsp of [amazon_link id=”B00DC5ZKQE” target=”_blank” ]butter powder[/amazon_link]
  • 4 ½ cups of water

Mix all of the ingredients in a quart sized Ziploc bag. Boil 4 ½ cups of water and add to the bag (place bag in another bowl for easy mixing and eating) and stir well. Wait for about 5 minutes, and add additional water if necessary. Enjoy your cheesy potatoes with camp crackers.

Meal #5 – Sweet Chicken and Rice – Approximately 500 calories

Chicken And Rice

Because I’m such a rice fan, there are two recipes with rice on this list. It is easy to make, and perfect for the last night on a five day excursion. Here is what you need:

  • The seasoning packet from 1 box of instant wild rice (my favorite is the [amazon_link id=”B000GZSBZ0″ target=”_blank” ]toasted almond flavor[/amazon_link])
  • 1 cup of [amazon_link id=”B00OAEVSTY” target=”_blank” ]dried cranberries[/amazon_link]
  • 1 7-ounce [amazon_link id=”B000V1LXU4″ target=”_blank” ]packet of chicken[/amazon_link]
  • 2 cups [amazon_link id=”B001BGTRTW” target=”_blank” ]instant rice[/amazon_link]
  • 3 cups of water

Boil 3 cups of water and add the instant rice with the seasoning packet. Stir in the chicken and cranberries. Let stand for 5 minutes and that’s all she wrote!

Final Thoughts

Nutritious meals are essential for backpacking success, but it isn’t as easy as grilling up a burger or cooking with refrigerated ingredients in your spacious kitchen. It takes a little more planning to pack lightweight, easy to cook meals. The five meals listed above are easy to make, packed full of calories and flavor, and did I mention delicious?

What are your favorite easy backpacking dinners? Have you tried one of the recipes (or a variation on one) above? Let us know the recipes in the comment section below. Thanks for reading and happy trails!

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Top 5 Expedition Backpacks For 2016

Featured

Heading into 2016, expedition backpackers have many options when it comes to choosing a big backcountry backpack. A few years ago, the focus then was on interior capacity, where now-a-days, gear is getting so light and compact that a smaller backpack (50-75 Liters vs 100+ from a couple years ago) can be used on 2-8 day trips and more. Let’s take a look at our top 5 best expedition backpacks for 2016 (which might not necessarily be new pack models).

#5 – Mountainsmith Lookout 50 ~ $180

The Mountainsmith Lookout 50 backpack might be a little on the small side for an expedition backpacking trip, but there are plenty of larger options below to choose from. We couldn’t leave it off the list, especially at this price point and with its features. The Lookout features excellent padding on the shoulder pads and hip belt and is a very comfortable bag with a sweetspot weight range right around 40-45 pounds. Once again, this might not be big enough if you plan to pack gear for mountaineering, but can handle a week long trip no problem. At this price point, you can’t go wrong, and is about as good as it gets bang for buck. Click the following link to pick up your Mountainsmith Lookout 50 (or step up to the Mountainsmith Apex 80) today.

#4 – The North Face Banchee 65 ~ $250

The North Face Banchee 65 features a proprietary OPTIFIT technology that helps you to dial in your fit no matter your body type, male or female, short or tall. We found this pack to be very comfortable because of this. It also weighs 3.6 pounds, which is pretty light for an expedition pack of this size. We found that the sweetspot for the weight is right around 50 pounds. Who wants to pack around more than that anyway, right? The Banchee does a great job distributing the weight with its suspension system, and is a joy to carry around for long periods of time. Click the following linkto pick up your North Face Banchee 65 today.

#3 – Osprey Xenith 75 ~ $320

The Osprey Xenith is one of the best performing expedition backpacks on the market today. It is comfortable, durable, and has the capacity to pack for an extended stay trip no problem. The 105 Liter incarnation made the list in place of the retired Argon a couple years ago, and there are good reasons that it is back for 2016: the Xenith is a well put together backpack, with 4 access points to the main compartment, as well as well placed external storage pockets. This makes it easy to pack and unpack. The external hydration pocket is another nice feature that helps you re-fill your hydration source without having to dig out your pack’s contents. The sweetspot for the weight is right around 60 pounds, which is a ton of gear in my book. The Xenith doesn’t lack in the comfort arena either, as it features great suspension and cushion, as well as a decently breathable mesh backing for those hot summer days. If you are looking for a no joke top of the line expedition backpack, the Osprey Xenith will deliver every time. Order yours through Amazon by clicking the following link.

#2 – Mountain Hardwear South Col 70 ~ $300

With a sweetspot around 55 pounds, the South Col 70 from Mountain Hardwear is a durable workhorse to get you there and back again. It is designed for mountaineering applications, but is more than adequate for extended-stay trips as well. The South Col weighs in a smidge over 4 pounds, which makes it a lightweight option in the expedition backpack category. Some of the weight was trimmed from the padding, as the shoulder and hip pads are noticeably thinner and less substantial than most packs in this category. We found the pack to be comfortable enough at the 55 pound sweetspot, but carrying more weight made a noticeable difference in comfort, so keep that in mind. One of the best features of the pack is the waterproof main compartment. No more worries about soggy gear if you don’t get your rain gear on quickly during a sudden downpour. Your main gear will stay bone dry. This feature has won over more than one field tester. Overall, the Mountain Hardwear South Col 70 is a fantastic option and was only beat out by one other bag on this list. Simply put, it is one of the best expedition backpacks on the market today. Click the following link to pick yours up today.

#1 – Gregory Baltoro 75 ~ $320

Coming in at #1 is the redesigned Gregory Baltoro 75. A few years ago, this bag was on the cusp of making the list, but was edged out by two other Gregory packs (the Whitney and the other being the audacious Denali Pro), and it was no secret why they featured 2 bags in our top 5. Gregory makes some of the most comfortable bags on the market, from the shoulder harness systems to the hip belts. They are just a pleasure to wear, and none more so than the Baltoro 75 (and its little brother the 65). All the way up to 60 pounds, this pack is comfortable and agile while on uneven terrain. Other features of this bag include an integral rain cover, 3 access points to the main compartment, divided lid compartment, a detachable day pack, large hip belt pockets (1 waterproof), and a re-worked design that makes the pack 12% lighter than its previous incarnation. This is a serious expedition backpack that is as durable as it is comfortable. If you are in the market for a do-it-all extended stay backpack, look no further than the Gregory Baltoro 75. Click the following link to order our number 1 expedition backpack for 2016, the Gregory Baltoro 75 today!

Backpacking Samurai Thoughts

As backpacking gear gets smaller and lighter, gone are the days when expedition backpackers need bags in the 100+ Liter range. You’re not doing yourself any favors bulking up to 80 pounds+ anyway. Slimmer, lighter expedition backpacks in the 50-75 Liter range are taking the spotlight, and the 5 packs above are all excellent choices, from the affordably priced Mountainsmith Lookout 50 to the Gregory Baltoro 75. Ultimately, comfort won out, as the Gregory Baltoro 75 just wasn’t matched by any other pack on our list.

What do you think of the list of expedition backpacks above? What is your top expedition backpack of choice? Let us know in the comment section below. As always, thanks for reading and happy trails!

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The Joys Of Ultralight Backpacking

In my earlier years of backpacking and spending time in the outdoors, I was all about the gadgets and gear. I wanted to have a tool for everything, and I wanted the biggest and best of everything. When I planned backpacking trips, I wanted to have the ability to do all sorts of outdoor activities, ranging from rock climbing to water sports. I was also younger and had a lot more energy and strength, so the weight of all that gear didn’t bother me as much as it does now.

I have definitely seen an evolution in my style of backpacking over the last ten years. Even just a couple years ago, I was in this accumulation phase of buying new gear and gadgets whenever they came out. I had storage bins full of different gear options for different backpacking trips. Rather than accumulate lots of different gear choices to bring along, I am now downsizing my gear bins. I am selling things that I no longer need on eBay and Craigslist. This is a shift in my mindset towards a more minimalist approach. To me, being minimalist or ultralight or lightweight can all mean the same thing – basically, backpacking with as little weight and with minimal gear on your back.

There is one obvious benefit of ultralight backpacking – less weight. And it is an amazing benefit. Carrying heavy loads on your back for many miles on uneven terrain can quickly sap your strength and morale. But there are also hidden benefits of backpacking light that might not seem as apparent on the surface. Let’s delve into these hidden gems as well as dispel some myths about ultralight backpacking.

Enjoying Nature

Glacier View
Without being burdened with heavy loads, you will be more able to focus on why you are in the outdoors to begin with – enjoying nature. Honestly, past experiences with super-sized backpacking rigs have taught me that they quickly hamper your ability to observe your surroundings. This can not only reduce your ability to enjoy your time outdoors, but can also be hazardous to your health (tripping and slipping, missing turns, wild animals). I remember more than a few hikes where all I could think about was just trudging a few more miles so I could get the pack off my back and rest. This mindset is all wrong and defeats one of the principle purposes that I backpack to begin with.

Enjoying Company

Another hidden benefit of ultralight backpacking is that you will be better able to give attention to the people you are hiking with. Carrying on conversations while on the trail with huge packs is often more of just a distraction or coping mechanism rather than an enjoyable conversation. I have found that lightening the load has allowed for more meaningful interactions with friends and family, and not just as a way to pass uncomfortable time.

Knowing Your Limits

Planning a backpacking trip can take a lot of time and coordination. You have to map your route, plan your stops and campsites, figure out the makeup of your group, and decide which gear to bring. That last part – deciding on your gear choices – can be laborious if you have mountains of gear options available to you and a high weight limit. Going into this planning phase with the knowledge that you will be limiting yourself to ultralight gear will simplify your options. It is important to realize that you might be limited on certain types of extended-stay trips because of your ultralight load-out, and this is especially true with the amount of food you can carry. But because of the above benefits of backpacking light, you will get more out of your trips even if they are condensed.

Having a minimalist approach will simplify the entire planning process. And as an added bonus, if you are good at improvising and have some Bear Grhylls bush-craft skills, you might be able to extend your stay without starving yourself by setting snares for food, fishing with small kits, and foraging for wild berries and edible plants.

Myths Debunked

There are some notable obstacles to ultralight backpacking, but a lot of them are overblown exaggerations. This is especially true with newer technology surrounding the outdoor market. One of the loudest complaints of ultralight backpacking is the loss of comfort. Several years ago, this complaint had a lot of pull, and for the most part, was an accurate depiction of minimalism in the outdoors. For example, the weight of your sleeping bag determined the warmth it provided. Twenty years ago, these new innovative micro-fibers that were lightweight and super insulative just didn’t exist in the marketplace. But with newer technology and innovation in outdoor gear design, the comfort factor is still there even at the micro-weight level, and the prices continue to become more and more affordable.

[amazon_image id=”B008FJH3VC” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”large” ]Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15 Sleeping Bag – Men’s Long Blue Ridge Left Hand[/amazon_image]

Another complaint of minimalist backpacking is that you are limited with what you can do on your backpacking trip. This used to be my mindset when planning my trips and pulling my gear together. I never wanted to limit myself to a certain set of activities and therefore be less free; rather, I wanted to be able to do everything on every trip. I wanted binoculars to be able to glass for wild game. I wanted a fishing pole to be able to catch dinner. I wanted fancy cookware to make delicious meals. I wanted a chair to sit on at base camp. I wanted changes of clothes and shoes for lounging. And on and on. But what I found is that if I packed something and brought it along, I felt like I had to use it, or I carried it all that way for nothing.

I started to see that the reality of my mindset was not of freedom to do what I wanted at all. Instead, I felt like my plans were locked in and I had no room to improvise. Part of the allure of being in the outdoors is getting away from set schedules, routines, and day-to-day activities. But backpacking trips are all about planning and coordination (and when it comes to being safe, healthy, and getting home in one piece, rightfully so). In going ultralight, however, I have found it is easier to stay away from the drudgery that can sometimes find its way into the backcountry.

In Conclusion

I understand that ultralight backpacking is not for everyone. Ten years ago, it wasn’t for me. But I have seen my ways evolve over that time to embrace the benefits of backpacking light. If nothing else, it is an interesting concept. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to minimize your gear and free your mind and body to better enjoy nature and your company? Give ultralight backpacking a try. Here is a great article on getting started with ultralight backpacking.

What are your opinions of ultralight backpacking? What merits do you see in it? Let us know in the comment section below. Thanks for reading and for adding to this community!

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How To Set Up For Lightweight Trekking With An Ultralight Backpacking Gear List

Ultralight BackpackingFor many of us backpacking enthusiasts, the ultimate goal is to reduce the total weight of our packed gear bit by bit. I look back on the many years I have spent in the great outdoors and my gear has evolved over and over. My total weight has ranged all over the place, but a few years ago I underwent a transformation from a gadget backpacker to a minimalist. I now take only the bare minimum on my multi-day trips. Are you interested in trimming the weight to ultralight standards? Below, we will go over some tips to accomplish this, as well as my most recent ultralight gear list.

The Big Three

No matter how many ounces you trim from your gadgets and gizmos, you will be limited by how heavy the big three are – your backpack, shelter, and sleeping bag/sleeping pad. This is the place where you can make the biggest impact on the total weight. But this is also where you can spend the most money. Unfortunately, most of the ultralight gear is on the higher end of the price spectrum. You will need to decide if shaving a few ounces is worth the additional cost, since you will likely start to see the law of diminishing returns manifest itself here.

What if you already own some nice gear, but it is just a little on the heavy side and you want to upgrade to lighter stuff? Sell your other items to fund your upgrades. This is a fairly standard practice, and is made even easier with the advent of EBay, Craigslist, and local online classifieds. Selling your old gear will soften the blow of upgrading to lighter, newer gear.

Backpack

[amazon_link id=”B00534ZLG6″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]ULA CDT Ultralight Backpack - Torso Large - Hipbelt Large[/amazon_link]There is a great company out of Logan, Utah called ULA Equipment that makes ultralight backpacks. The CDT, for example, weighs 2 pounds and has a capacity of 3370 cubic inches. This is a very capable backpack for a multi-day trip, and you are starting off on the right foot with only 2 pounds of backpack weight. The cool thing about this pack is that there are removable features that will trim the weight by an additional 5 ounces if desired (like the hydration sleeve, water bottle holsters, and internal mesh pockets). At a price point of only $135, you might not think you are getting a great backpack. But because ULA Equipment dispenses with style and design costs, they pass the savings on to you. It might not be as visually appealing as a Gregory or Arcteryx pack, but it’s all about weight, and that is where these packs shine. Click on the following link to order your ULA Equipment CDT backpack today.

[amazon_link id=”B00534ZLG6″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]ULA Equipment CDT Backpack[/amazon_link]

Shelter

[amazon_link id=”B001OPJVN2″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Equinox Ultralite Mummy Bivi Sleeping Bag[/amazon_link]When it comes to finding a tent or other shelter that is lightweight, bivy sacks are the ultimate option. Weighing as little as 6 ounces ([amazon_link id=”B005W4K9P0″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]MontBell Breeze Dry-Tec UL Sleeping bag cover[/amazon_link], ~$115, and the [amazon_link id=”B001OPJVN2″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Equinox Ultralight Bivy Cover[/amazon_link], ~$65), bivy sacks are basically sleeping bag covers that will keep you dry. Some come with wire hoops that give you a little headspace, but you will basically be confined to the shape of your sleeping bag.

[amazon_link id=”B0000E5N87″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Black Diamond Beta Light Tent[/amazon_link]Tarp tents are another great lightweight option. [amazon_link id=”B0000E5N87″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Black Diamond’s Beta Light 2 person tarp tent[/amazon_link] is about a pound and a half (split in half is about 12 ounces per person, plus trekking poles) and offers quite a bit more space than a bivy sack. For $150, you get a super light shelter for two. Another great option for about the same price is the [amazon_link id=”B00453MUNS” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]MSR E-Wing Shelter Tent[/amazon_link], weighing in at roughly 1 pound (plus trekking poles).

[amazon_link id=”B0036GT87G” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2 Person Tent[/amazon_link]Finding an ultralight tent in the 1 pound range is difficult, but splitting the weight of the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 (2 pounds 2 ounces) is about as good as it gets. The Fly Creek UL2 costs about $300, so quite a bit more than the other options, but you will have the most space and weather protection here. I have used this tent for most of my trips, and while it is cozy on the inside, it is perfect for me and my wife.

Sleeping Bag/Sleeping Pad

[amazon_link id=”B00AYH8HQ8″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Unisex Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15 Bag BLUE Reg RH[/amazon_link]There are a few other articles on this site that talk about lightweight sleeping bags. My favorites include the Marmot Helium down bag, the Mountain Hardwear Phantom series, and the [amazon_link id=”B007LL3LX4″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]MontBell UL Super Spiral Hugger series[/amazon_link]. Down sleeping bags will give you the best warmth to weight ratio, but will generally cost more. There are different temperature ratings to be aware of as well. Colder conditions will require lower ratings, which will bump up the weight and price. My choice is the Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15 degree sleeping bag, which weighs only 2 pounds (~$450), and with a 15 degree temperature rating, I’m usually comfortable for 3 season trips, even at higher elevations.

[amazon_link id=”B005I6QZE6″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Thermarest Prolite Sleeping Pad (Large)[/amazon_link]As for the sleeping pad, if you decide to have one at all (think more weight savings by leaving one at home), look for a pad around 1 pound or less. You might have to settle for a torso length (only covers your waist and up) to shave more ounces. The [amazon_link id=”B0047BXBUO” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Exped SynMat UL 7[/amazon_link] in medium weighs in right at a pound ($170). Thermarest’s Prolite pad is another great option. You can get a smaller dimension torso length pad weighing 8 ounces for $60.

Totals For Big Three (My choices)

Backpack [amazon_link id="B00534ZLG6" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]ULA Equipment CDT[/amazon_link] $135 24 ounces (2 pounds)
Shelter [amazon_link id="B0036GT87G" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2[/amazon_link] $300 17 ounces (1 pound 1 ounce split in half)
Sleeping Bag [amazon_link id="B00AYH8HQ8" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15[/amazon_link] $450 24 ounces (2 pounds)
Sleeping Pad [amazon_link id="B0075JN8FS" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Thermarest Prolite Small[/amazon_link] $70 11 ounces
Totals $955 76 ounces (4 pounds 12 ounces)

Clothing

[amazon_link id=”B005BV88NO” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Outdoor Research Men's Helium II Jacket, Medium, Glacier[/amazon_link]If you are really going for weight savings, you will need to skimp on extra clothing. Plan on bringing a few extra layers for night and for rain/snow/colder weather, as well as extra socks and under garments. Having extra socks and under garments will prevent chafing and blistering, as well as keep you from stinking to high hell. But these garments should be as light as possible. Here is a list of what I pack with me on a spring/summer/fall mountain multi-day (3-5) trip:

Trail Socks [amazon_link id="B00EYABH2W" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Icebreaker Men's Multisport Ultralite Micro Socks[/amazon_link] $15 1.6 ounces X2
Sleeping Socks [amazon_link id="B004M5UG4O" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Darn Tough Vermont Men's Merino Wool Boot Full Cushion Socks[/amazon_link] $15 4.8 ounces
Thermal Top [amazon_link id="B005I0JXPK" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Terramar TXO 2.0[/amazon_link] $15 6 ounces
Thermal Bottom [amazon_link id="B005I0JYTU" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Terramar TXO 2.0[/amazon_link] $15 6 ounces
Undergarment [amazon_link id="B00D4KISI4" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Icebreaker Men's Anatomica Boxer[/amazon_link] $50 3 ounces X2
Spare T-Shirt [amazon_link id="B00BONJ6YI" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Mountain Hardwear Way2Cool[/amazon_link] $50 4.4 ounces
Shell Top [amazon_link id="B005BV88NO" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Outdoor Research Helium II[/amazon_link] $150 6.4 ounces
Shell Bottom [amazon_link id="B004OZ6R3G" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Mountain Hardwear Epic Pant[/amazon_link] $90 8 ounces
Beanie [amazon_link id="B00EV0KDCK" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Mountain Hardwear Effusion Dome[/amazon_link] $25 1 ounce
Gloves [amazon_link id="B006O2EZ0O" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Mountain Hardwear Winter Momentum[/amazon_link] $40 2 ounces
Clothing Stuff Sack [amazon_link id="B00ATNIB7M" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Outdoor Research Lightweight Stuff Sack (10L)[/amazon_link] $15 1.3 ounces
Totals $545 49.1 ounces (3 pounds 1.1 ounces)

Food and Water Prep

[amazon_link id=”B000AXVOLQ” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Vargo Titanium Triad Alcohol Stove[/amazon_link]Depending on the length of your trip, your menu will vary. One of the most important things to remember is to plan your hike along a source of water. This will allow you to re-supply via water purification. You don’t want to have to carry all the water you will need for a multi-day trip, since water weighs about 8 pounds per gallon (more than the big three combined!). Below is a list of what I utilize for food and water prep with their accompanying weights and costs:

Trail Filter [amazon_link id="B006QF3TW4" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]LifeStraw[/amazon_link] $20 2 ounces
Stove [amazon_link id="B000AXVOLQ" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Homemade Alcohol Stove[/amazon_link] $0 .5 ounces
Fuel [amazon_link id="B0016GXNC4" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Heet Methanol[/amazon_link] $2 12 ounces
Cook Pot [amazon_link id="B009B5E39O" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]TOAKS Titanium 600ml Pot[/amazon_link] $30 3.8 ounces
Mug [amazon_link id="B004BKHVYI" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Sea to Summit X Mug[/amazon_link] $15 2.7 ounces
Spork [amazon_link id="B001E7S5BO" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Light My Fire Titanium Spork[/amazon_link] $15 .5 ounces
Firestarter [amazon_link id="B004TPFKPW" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]SOL FireLite and Tinder Quick Fire Starter[/amazon_link] $10 1.3 ounces
Water Bottle [amazon_link id="B002LSS68C" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Platypus Soft Bottle (1L)[/amazon_link] $10 1.6 ounces
1/4 Water Towel [amazon_link id="B001QWFHIQ" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]MSR Packtowl (S)[/amazon_link] $12 1 ounce
Food and Water Stuff Sack [amazon_link id="B00ATNIB7M" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Outdoor Research Lightweight Stuff Sack (10L)[/amazon_link] $15 1.3 ounces
Totals $119 26.7 ounces (1 pound 10.7 ounces)

Toiletries, Tools, First Aid

[amazon_link id=”B0032Y4IUE” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Leatherman 831204 Squirt ES4 Black Keychain Tool with Scissor[/amazon_link]When it comes to gadget backpacking, this is where I used to go crazy. I used to pack multiples of different tools based on the old axiom ‘two is one and one is none.’ While there are a few things that might require a little redundancy, most everything in this category will be just fine by itself. Think carefully about these items and how much each weighs. Look for gear items that serve multiple purposes. And if you really feel like you should include redundant gear, go ahead and do it. You will see if you really needed it while on your trip, and might be able to trim it for your next excursion. Below is a list of what I take with me on the trail:

Toiletries Stuff Sack [amazon_link id="B00ATNIB7M" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Outdoor Research Lightweight Stuff Sack (5L)[/amazon_link] $12 1 ounce
Light [amazon_link id="B003VU4I3Q" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Black Diamond Wiz Headlamp[/amazon_link] $20 2 ounces
Multitool [amazon_link id="B0032Y4IUE" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Leatherman Squirt[/amazon_link] $30 2.1 ounces
Firestarter [amazon_link id="B00711YQN8" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Mini Bic Lighter[/amazon_link] $1 .5 ounces
Tinder Dryer Lint (in Ziploc bag with Petroleum Jelly) $0 1 ounce
First Aid Kit [amazon_link id="B00BAV6C5U" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Ultralight and Watertight Medical Kit (.3)[/amazon_link] $9 2.3 ounces
[amazon_link id="B002KQ6682" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Duct Tape[/amazon_link] Wrapped around Old Credit Card $0 2 ounces
[amazon_link id="B00664KXGA" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]550 Paracord[/amazon_link] 50 feet $5 3.6 ounces
Sunscreen [amazon_link id="B0014L9TH4" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Banana Boat Sport Performance Sunblock Lotion SPF 30[/amazon_link] $2 1.2 ounces
Soap [amazon_link id="B000TG6HI4" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer Gel 1 OZ Travel Size[/amazon_link] $2 1.2 ounces
Toothpaste [amazon_link id="B0070IZQBS" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Colgate Toothpaste 2.8oz Travel Size[/amazon_link] $2 2.8 ounces
Travel Toothbrush [amazon_link id="B000052YA2" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]GUM Travel Toothbrushes with Antibacterial Bristles[/amazon_link] $2 1.6 ounces
Towel [amazon_link id="B0075JTNXO" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Packtowl Nano Light Towel (M)[/amazon_link] $10 .9 ounces
Trail Map Laminated Map $0 1 ounce
Totals $95 23.2 ounces (1 pound 7.2 ounces)

Worn Or Carried On Self

[amazon_link id=”B0054TJOUE” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Salomon Men's XA Pro 3D Ultra 2 Running Shoe,Swamp/Black/Deep Red,10.5 M US[/amazon_link]Not everything will go into your backpack. Some of the gear you will be wearing or carrying on your person. For example, sunglasses, hats, trekking poles, boots, clothing, a watch, a headlamp, etc. will be extra weight but won’t be on your back. You should still consider these items because your body is still exerting energy to carry all of them, even if the final tally doesn’t count against your pack weight. Think about packing some of the items above in other lists in pockets or on your belt for easier access.

Below is what I normally hike with on my body on a sunny, warm day (obviously, these things will change with the weather and possibly the terrain).

Trail Shorts [amazon_link id="B004M9XOA8" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Mountain Hardwear Canyon Shorts[/amazon_link] $50 6.3 ounces
Trail Shirt [amazon_link id="B00BONJ6YI" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Mountain Hardwear Way2Cool[/amazon_link] $50 4.4 ounces
Trail Socks [amazon_link id="B00EYABH2W" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Icebreaker Men's Multisport Ultralite Micro Socks[/amazon_link] $15 1.6 ounces
Trail Hat [amazon_link id="B008ENFV40" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Mountain Hardwear Men's Chiller[/amazon_link] $40 2.9 ounces
Sunglasses [amazon_link id="B00CM0957A" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Polarized P52 Sunglasses Superlight[/amazon_link] $30 1 ounce
Watch [amazon_link id="B0006OGJZK" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Dakota Watch Company Digital Compass Watch[/amazon_link] $40 9 ounces (belt clip)
Trail Shoes [amazon_link id="B0054TJOUE" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Salomon Men's XA PRO 3D Ultra 2 Trail Running Shoe[/amazon_link] $130 14 ounces
Trekking Poles [amazon_link id="B00AU2R8XU" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles[/amazon_link] $140 10.4 ounces
Totals $495 49.6 ounces (3 pounds 1.6 ounces)

Location Specific/Extra Gear

[amazon_link id=”B00H8MPCIS” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Garmin eTrex 20 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator[/amazon_link]There are a few gear items that, depending on where I am hiking, I will bring along. If I am backpacking in bear country, there are a few extra precautionary items to bring along, like bear spray or a bear canister. Below is a list of these extra items that I may or may not pack.

Bear Canister [amazon_link id="B0055QGZUS" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Bear Keg Food Container[/amazon_link] $65 56 ounces
Bear Spray [amazon_link id="B002E6VAHK" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]SABRE FRONTIERSMAN Bear Attack Deterrent with Hip Holster[/amazon_link] $36 7.9 ounces
GPS [amazon_link id="B00542NVDW" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Garmin eTrex 20 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator[/amazon_link] $165 5 ounces
Emergency Messenger [amazon_link id="B002PHRDQU" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger unit[/amazon_link] $90 8.6 ounces
Bug Spray [amazon_link id="B00DP2A1SQ" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Deep Woods Sportsmen[/amazon_link] $5 2.2 ounces
Mosquito Net [amazon_link id="B0009PUSZI" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Coleman Insect Head Net[/amazon_link] $2 1 ounce
Additional Water Bottle [amazon_link id="B002LSS68C" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Platypus Soft Bottle (1L)[/amazon_link] $10 1.6 ounces
Camera [amazon_link id="B009TCD8V8" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]GoPro HERO3+: Black Edition[/amazon_link] $400 20 ounces
Warmer Top [amazon_link id="B0061CSTNG" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Terramar Txo 3.0[/amazon_link] $50 6.3 ounces
Warmer Bottom [amazon_link id="B0061CSV8O" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Terramar Txo 3.0[/amazon_link] $50 6.3 ounces
Warmer Jacket [amazon_link id="B00ABSTNBS" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Outdoor Research Halogen Jacket[/amazon_link] $200 13.3 ounces
Fishing Kit [amazon_link id="B001E18M2M" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Eagle Claw Pack-It Spin Combo Telescopic Rod[/amazon_link] $25 12 ounces

Meals

Backcountry foodsWhen it comes to packing food for an ultralight 3-5 day trip, you really need to maximize your calories-to-weight ratio. There are a lot of good trail foods that help achieve this, like trail mixes, peanut butter, cheese, and granola. Protein is another essential menu item, and any time you are able to have a warm meal, you will have a more enjoyable time on the trail.

Food fatigue is a real enemy of backpackers, and can be a dangerous situation if prolonged. Pack a variety of flavors and types of foods. Sure, 10 pounds of trail mix is chock full of calories, but will you want to eat it three meals a day for 5 days straight? I will go over my ultralight backpacking menu in another post, but keep in mind that you will want to keep your food to about 2 pounds per day, give or take a few ounces. I pack my meals without extra packaging or boxes. For example, if you are taking an MRE, strip all the ingredients out of the MRE pouch and leave behind anything you don’t plan on consuming.

Don’t forget to bring along some water additives as well. Water fatigue is another problem to be aware of. Sweeten up your water with some Crystal Light or Gatoraid powder, and bring along some coffee/hot chocolate/tea for evenings and mornings.

Final Weight Talley

Big Three $995 76 ounces (4 pounds 12 ounces)
Clothing $545 49.1 ounces (3 pounds 1.1 ounces)
Food/Water Prep $120 27 ounces (1 pound 11 ounces)
Necessities $95 23.2 ounces (1 pound 7.2 ounces)
Worn Gear $495 49.6 ounces (3 pounds 1.6 ounces)
Gear Subtotal $2250 175.3 ounces (10 pounds 15.3 ounces excluding worn gear)
Water 1L $0 35.2 ounces (2 pounds 3.2 ounces)
Food ~2 pounds per day $40 ($10 per day) 128 ounces (8 pounds)
Total Pack Weight 338.5 ounces (21 pounds 2.5 ounces)

Final Thoughts

You can see that the total weight of a little more than 20 pounds for a multi-day excursion is not only achievable, but will also afford quite a bit of comfort in the backcountry. The gear base weight at a little more than 10 pounds is just breaking the unofficial ultralight threshold, but I choose to bring along a few extra comforts (like extra socks and underwear) that push it over the top. Your mileage will vary, and you may very well fit comfortably under the magic number of 10 pounds.

Remember that trimming weight from the Big Three is essential for obtaining this goal. I have listed a few options above for getting there, but there are certainly a lot more options on the market today. Get started making your list and find ways to trim extra weight.

Hopefully, this article will help you to get started in the wonderful world of ultralight backpacking. Use these lists to help modify the gear that you pack. Thanks for reading and happy trails!

What do you use for your Big Three? What is your gear base weight? What about your total 3-5 day weight? Let us know in the comment section below. Thanks for your contributions!

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The Best Lightweight Summer Sleeping Bags On The Market

Summer Night CampingWhen it comes to finding a summer sleeping bag for your next backpacking trip, many trekkers look for the lightest option available. Summer is the best time to experience ultralight or minimalist backpacking at its finest. Summer sleeping bags are usually rated at 40 degrees or higher, and because of this, they have less insulation, which means the bags are lighter, smaller, and more compact. It is not uncommon to find a summer bag that is close to a pound in total weight, which means you are well on your way to packing less than 10 pounds of gear (usually the cutoff for ultralight backpacking). If you are looking for a summer sleeping bag to add to your equipment arsenal, this is the place for you to be. Below, we will highlight our favorite lightweight summer sleeping bags out there on the market today.

Mountain Hardwear Phantom 45 – $170

[amazon_link id=”B00314H5EQ” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Mountain Hardwear Phantom 45 Degree Sleeping Bag - Jungle LH[/amazon_link]The Mountain Hardwear Phantom 45 is very high on our list of best summer sleeping bags. It is a lightweight 800-fill down sleeping bag that weighs only 1 pound 3 ounces. It is cut to snuggly fit your body to maximize warmth and minimize weight. Mountain Hardwear sleeping bags are known for their comfort, and the Phantom is no exception. The price is right, especially if you can find it on sale at Amazon (which at the time of this writing it currently is). Click the following link to purchase yours today!

[amazon_link id=”B00314H5EQ” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Mountain Hardwear Phantom 45[/amazon_link]

Marmot Atom 40 – $290

[amazon_link id=”B003C17HWS” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Marmot Atom Down Sleeping Bag, Regular Left, Red[/amazon_link]Marmot is another name in the industry that has a devout following. The Marmot Atom 40 is one of their ultralight sleeping bag offerings for summer month backpacking, and is a 2008 Backpacker Magazine Editors’ Choice award winner. Coming in at 1 pound 5 ounces, this bag is super light, compacts down to the size of a Nalgene bottle, and will keep you warm below 40 degrees with a simple base layer. The Atom features 850+ fill power goose down, which is the best weight to warmth down on the market today. Click this link to order your Marmot Atom 40 today!

[amazon_link id=”B003C17HWS” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Marmot Atom 40[/amazon_link]

Marmot Always Summer – $200

[amazon_link id=”B00AO5NBKW” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Marmot Always Summer Down Sleeping Bag, Regular-Left, Red[/amazon_link]Appropriately named, the Marmot Always Summer is a perfect summer sleeping bag for backpackers of all types. While not as light as the Marmot Atom or some of the other bags on this list (coming in at 2 pounds 3 ounces), the Always Summer makes up with its attractive price point of under $200. It features a slightly heavier 650-fill down, so it won’t be as compactable as higher-fill down sleeping bags, but the bag is rated down to 40 degrees. This is an all-around great summer sleeping bag, and offers great value at its price point. Get yours today by clicking on the following link!

[amazon_link id=”B00AO5NBKW” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Marmot Always Summer[/amazon_link]

MontBell UL Super Spiral Down Hugger – $320

[amazon_link id=”B007LL3RG0″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]MontBell U.L. Super Spiral Down Hugger 40 Degree Sleeping Bag Blue Ridge Regular / Left Zip[/amazon_link]This is a sleeping bag that I was personally excited to test myself. First of all, it comes in multiple temperature ranges, but the 40 degree bag is by far the lightest and most economical of them all. The Spiral Down Hugger features 800-fill power goose down that weighs an amazing 1 pound 2 ounces. That is truly ultralight. This sleeping bag also features a stretch woven fabric that allows the bag to conform to your body as you sleep. This stretch keeps the bag snug to your body but does not constrict your nightly movements. I loved this bag, for all of the reasons discussed above, and would recommend it to anyone seeking a truly ultralight summer sleeping bag for backpacking. To get your MontBell UL Super Spiral Down Hugger today, click the following link!

[amazon_link id=”B007LL3RG0″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]MontBell UL Super Spiral Down Hugger #4[/amazon_link]

Big Agnes Pitchpine SL – $330

[amazon_link id=”B004MQSM58″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Big Agnes Pitchpine SL 45-Degree Sleeping Bags(800 Down fill), Reg Left Zipper[/amazon_link]Another summer sleeping bag that gets really close to the one pound threshold is the Pitchpine SL by Big Agnes. Rated to 45 degrees and insulated with 800-fill power goose down, the Pitchpine SL offers a 1 pound 2 ounce package that compacts to a very small overall size (5”x6”).  This is a comfortable bag that has a lot of comfort add-ons, like a pillow pocket, sleeping pad loops that allow flexibility in the legs, and a water repellant surface treatment to keep you dry and warm.  The Pitchpine SL is a true ultralight summer sleeping bag that offers a lot of bang for your buck. Click on the following link to get yours today!

[amazon_link id=”B004MQSM58″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Big Agnes Pitchpine SL[/amazon_link]

Lafuma Lightway 45 – $125

[amazon_link id=”B00B6QLSDU” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Lafuma Lightway 45-Degree Down Right Zip Sleeping Bag, Olympic Blue[/amazon_link]A more economical choice (around $125), the Lafuma Lightway 45 will still allow you to approach that ultralight backpacking concept. Weighing in at 1 pound 9 ounces, the Lightway features 600-fill power duck down which is more affordable than higher power goose down. This is a perfect summer sleeping bag option that has an attractive weight and price tag. To get your Lafuma Lightway 45 today, click the following link.

[amazon_link id=”B00B6QLSDU” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Lafuma Lightway 45[/amazon_link]

Kelty Cosmic Down 40 – $100

[amazon_link id=”B009PRN4QG” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Kelty Cosmic Down 40-Degree Sleeping Bag, Yellow, 6-Feet[/amazon_link]The most affordable sleeping bag on our list, the Kelty Cosmic down 40 sleeping bag comes in right around $100. It features 550-fill power down, which adds a little to the overall weight of 1 pound 13 ounces. It also includes hang loops for storage, sleeping pad security loops, internal liner loops for those cooler summer nights, and a form fitting and snug shape. If you are looking for the best bang for your buck, the Kelty Cosmic down 40 sleeping bag is for you. Click the following link to order yours today!

[amazon_link id=”B009PRN4QG” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Kelty Cosmic Down 40[/amazon_link]

Exped Ultralight 300 45 – $350

[amazon_link id=”B0087XXFEK” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Exped Ultralite 300[/amazon_link]The 1 pound 4 ounce Exped Ultralight 300 lives up to its name as one of the best summer lightweight sleeping bags on the market today.  Featuring a high loft 840-fill goose down insulation and a waterproof packsack and net storage bag, the Exped Ultralight 300 is a great choice for ultralight backpackers. To order your Ultralight today, click on the following link.

[amazon_link id=”B0087XXFEK” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Exped Ultralight 300 45[/amazon_link]

Backpacking Samurai Thoughts

You probably noticed that every single sleeping bag on this list is a down bag. It is just a fact that natural down has a better warmth to weight ratio than synthetic insulation does. Technologies change, and this might flip in the future, but right now, if you are looking for the lightest sleeping bags, especially for summer ultralight backpacking, down is the way to go.

The list of sleeping bags above has a wide range of prices. The cool thing is that the more affordable sleeping bags actually stack up quite well against the higher priced bags. My favorite summer bag is the MontBell UL Super Spiral Down Hugger with its 1 pound 2 ounce weight and excellent comfort, but a close second is the Mountain Hardwear Phantom 45 (one ounce heavier than the Super Spiral). Any one of these sleeping bags would provide excellent summer sleeping comfort, and exceptional warmth to weight. Hopefully, this guide will get you started on your search for a summer sleeping bag to fit your needs.

What do you think of the list of summer sleeping bags above? What is your favorite summer sleeping bag? What sleeping bag do you use for ultralight backpacking? Let us know in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!

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The Best Lightweight Backpacking Water Purifiers

Katadyn Pocket MicrofilterWhen it comes to spending significant time in the backcountry, obtaining clean water is essential for your survival. Long trips demand that you purify water while on the trail rather than carry all the water you will need on your back. Remember that water weighs about 8 pounds per gallon, so you will be severely limited on the amount that you can carry on your back, especially when you have all the other gear packed in your bag. So what are the lightest and best water purifiers out there to pack along for your trip (besides boiling your water)? Below, we will go over some of the best options out there.

Ultralight Water Purification Options – $10

[amazon_link id=”B0009I3T3S” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets with PA Plus[/amazon_link]Iodine tablets and chlorine drops are the ultimate ultralight options available. [amazon_link id=”B0009I3T3S” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Potable Aqua water purification iodine tablets[/amazon_link] are not only lightweight, but they are also very inexpensive. Amazon regularly sells them for under $10 for a bottle of 50 tablets. If you aren’t too fond of the taste that these tablets add to the water, get the combo with PA Plus, which neutralizes the bad iodine flavor.

[amazon_link id=”B000RELM6U” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Aquamira Water Treatment, 2 Oz, Part A and B, Chlorine Dioxide[/amazon_link][amazon_link id=”B000RELM6U” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Aquamira water treatment drops[/amazon_link] are made up of chlorine dioxide. Part B neutralizes the chlorine taste, similar to the iodine tablet PA Plus. These drops are similarly priced and take up about the same amount of space. Super light and affordable! It does take up to 30 minutes to purify your water, so you will have to wait similarly to if you are boiling your water.

Straw-Like Filters – $15-$20

[amazon_link id=”B006QF3TW4″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]LifeStraw Personal Water Filter[/amazon_link]When it comes to filtering out dangerous microorganisms without lugging around a huge filtering apparatus, small trail filters are lightweight, easy to use, and quick to deliver clean water to your body. The first option is the [amazon_link id=”B006QF3TW4″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]LifeStraw personal water filter[/amazon_link] by Vestergaard-Frandsen. The LifeStraw cleans your water, has a filter life up to 1000 Liters, and weighs only 2 ounces! There are no moving parts to wear out, and no batteries to replace. The LifeStraw can be used to suck water right out of a puddle or creek, but the easiest way to use it is to scoop up dirty water with a cup or bottle and suck it out of that instead of getting down on the ground. Costing only $20 on Amazon, this is a great option for any outdoorsman.

[amazon_link id=”B000WG40ZS” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]McNett Aquamira Frontier Pro Ultralight Water Filter[/amazon_link]Another option is the [amazon_link id=”B000WG40ZS” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Aquamira Frontier Pro[/amazon_link]. This straw-like filter can clean up to 50 gallons of water from the trail, and only costs ~$15 on Amazon. The downside of these straw-like trail filters is that they don’t have the capability to fill a reservoir of clean water (you could always fill a reservoir with dirty water to drink out of with the straw filter). That means you will have to stay close to the water source while in the backcountry. But they are lightweight and very affordable!

Trail Filters – $20-$325

[amazon_link id=”B007EG2XHG” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Aquamira Capsule Water Bottle and Filter[/amazon_link]The [amazon_link id=”B007EG2XHG” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Aquamira H20 Capsule water bottle filter[/amazon_link] is a perfect trail filter that fits inside its own water bottle. This allows you to store water and as you drink it, the water is filtered and cleaned. Filtering is instantaneous, has a 100 gallon filter life, and the bottle holds 25 ounces of water. This particular bottle costs around $20, and there are several others from different companies like [amazon_link id=”B004DZMD08″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Seychelle’s 28 ounce flip top filter and bottle[/amazon_link] (~$25), the [amazon_link id=”B00BWIWX9K” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Berkey Sport portable water purifier[/amazon_link](~$20), and [amazon_link id=”B002RRYB4U” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Katadyn’s MyBottle purifier[/amazon_link] (~$45).

[amazon_link id=”B0007U00YE” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Katadyn Pocket Water Microfilter[/amazon_link]If you are looking for a pocket filter that has the capacity to clean several thousand gallons of water and the ability to fill up large reservoirs with clean water, a more conventional filter is needed. If this is the case, the [amazon_link id=”B0007U00YE” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Katadyn Pocket water microfilter[/amazon_link]is what you need. Weighing only 20 ounces and measuring only 10”x2.4”, the Pocket microfilter packs quite a punch in its small package. It also comes with a 20 year warranty, which is outrageously long in the water filter market. The price is pretty high (~$325), but you won’t need any other water filtration device with this bad boy on board.

SteriPen Battery Operated UV Germ Destroyers – $50-$150

[amazon_link id=”B003A1MURC” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]SteriPEN Adventurer Opti Handheld UV Water Purifier[/amazon_link]There are several different SteriPen options on the market, ranging from the most affordable [amazon_link id=”B000PH013E” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Classic[/amazon_link] and Traveler to the crank operated Sidewinder or the solar panel charging Adventurer Opti. What sets the SteriPen apart from the other options is the fact that you are not filtering out any of the organic or inorganic components of the water, which takes away some of the ‘flavor’ or ‘taste.’ Instead, you zap the water with a blast of UV rays to kill any harmful microorganisms, and then drink away. Depending on the model you purchase, the UV element will be able to treat several thousand half Liter portions of water. They are very lightweight (the Adventurer Opti, for example, weighs only 3.6 ounces), compact, and easy to use (cleans water in seconds). The only downside is they are reliant on batteries, unless you opt for the Sidewinder or solar charging models, which are heavier.

Backpacking Samurai Thoughts

When considering lightweight options for water purification on a backpacking trip, this list sums up the best options on the market today. Obviously your budget will dictate which option is most appealing to fit your needs. All of these options are lightweight and take up little room. The different SteriPens available are my favorite water purification methods while on the trail, but I also like to take a backup water purifier, such as the water tablets or one of the emergency straws (since they aren’t really adding any extra weight and might end up keeping me from getting dysentery in the backcountry). Remember that it is always a good idea to plan backpacking trips close to water sources, and unless you plan on boiling your drinking and cooking water you will need to bring along a water purification device. Use this list to get started on discovering your preferred method.

What is your preferred water purification method while backpacking? Did we leave your favorite water purification method or device off our list? Let us know in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!

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New To Backpacking? Get Started For Under $300

Are you interested in backpacking, but not willing to commit a large amount of money upfront until you know you are going to like it? Are you on strict budget? If you answered yes to either of these questions, this article will hopefully help you to see that you don’t need to spend a small fortune to get into this great hobby. Below, I will go over some of my favorite low cost (but still high quality) gear to consider.

For the sake of this article, we will assume you have no backpacking gear. That means you will need to buy a backpack, tent, sleeping bag, and other items to keep you going, less the consumables (food, fuel, etc). Let’s say you have a strict budget of $300 to get all the gear you need to go on a summer weekend (3 day, 2 night) backpacking trip that is more or less on a flat trail.

Here is a breakdown of the items, and below will be more details of the gear choices:

  • Backpack$115 [amazon_link id=”B009R4CV3E” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Kelty Coyote 80 Backpack[/amazon_link]
  • Tent$110 [amazon_link id=”B0043HH5CW” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Eureka! Apex 2XT 2 Person Backpacking Tent[/amazon_link]
  • Sleeping Bag$40 [amazon_link id=”B006WPZBBA” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Ledge Sports Scorpion 45 Degree Ultralight Sleeping Bag[/amazon_link]
  • Water Prep – $25 [amazon_link id=”B004DZMD08″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Seychelle 28 Ounce Flip Top Water Filter Bottle[/amazon_link]
  • Food Prep$10 – [amazon_link id=”B000P9IR8I” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Stainless Steel Mess Kit[/amazon_link]
  • Total Cost = $300

Backpack – $115

[amazon_link id=”B009R4CV3E” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Kelty Coyote 80 Internal frame Backpack, Forest Night, Medium/Large[/amazon_link]For the backpack, the Kelty Coyote 80 [amazon_link id=”B009R4CV3E” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]can be picked up off of Amazon currently for $115[/amazon_link]. That is a great deal for a backpack that boasts 78 Liters (4750 cubic inches) of interior space. This is more than large enough for a 3 day excursion. It is more suited for a longer trip, but at that price point, it’s hard to pass this deal up. Additional features in this pack include:

Bag Features:

  • Top loading
  • 420-denier polyester Ball Shadow body fabric
  • 420-denier polyester Oxford reinforcement fabric
  • Hydration compatible
  • Reservoir sleeve
  • Front-panel access
  • Zippered side pockets
  • Mesh water bottle pockets
  • Side compression straps
  • Load stabilizer straps
  • Spindrift collar
  • Ice-axe loops
  • Daisy chain
  • Key fob
  • Zippered waist belt pockets
  • Lid converts into lumbar pack
  • Carry handle

Suspension Features:

  • CloudLock II adjustable suspension
  • LightBeam II dual aluminum stays
  • HDPE frame sheet
  • Removable HDPE reinforced dual density waist belt
  • Padded shoulder straps
  • Ventilating back panel
  • Load-lifter/stabilizer straps
  • Sternum strap
  • Patented Scherer Cinch

Specifications:

  • Capacity: 4,750 cubic inches (78-liters)
  • Weight: 5 lb. 9 oz.
  • Measures 16 x 34 x 16.5 inches (W x H x D)

Highlights of the Kelty Coyote 80 backpack are the price point, the capacity, removable waist belt and lid (converts into hip pack), and construction. The pack is on the heavy side at 5 pounds 9 ounces empty, but as long as it isn’t over packed for a 3 day trip, it shouldn’t be a problem.

Tent – $110

[amazon_link id=”B0043HH5CW” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Eureka! Apex 2 - Tent (sleeps 2)[/amazon_link]The tent of choice is the Eureka! Apex 2XT tent. This is a lightweight 2 person backpacking tent that is also a very palatable price right around a hundred bucks. We chose the Apex 2XT tent because of the price, as well as a few features, such as: the 2 door design with 2 vestibules totaling 27 additional square feet, solid construction, and light weight (6 pounds 5 ounces). Here are some additional features and specifications:

  • Seasons: 3
  • Sleeps: 2
  • Floor dimensions: 7′ 6″ by 4′ 11″
  • Center height: 3′ 10″
  • Minimum weight: 6 pounds, 5 ounces
  • Frame: Freestanding, shock-corded fiberglass
  • Vestibule: 2, with 13.8 square feet of storage each
  • Storage pockets: 2 mesh
  • Clothes line loops: 4
  • Flashlight loop: Yes
  • Warranty: Lifetime

This is great tent, and for the price, you won’t be disappointed. [amazon_link id=”B0043HH5CW” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Pick yours up today[/amazon_link].

Sleeping Bag – $40

[amazon_link id=”B006WPZBA6″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Ledge Sports FeatherLite +20 F Degree Ultra Light Design, Ultra Compact Sleeping Bag (84 X 32 X 20, Red)[/amazon_link]Since this is a summer trip, we can get away with suggesting a summer sleeping bag. And that is completely fair, because if you are new to backpacking, you probably don’t want to get into a cold weather trip right off the bat because you might ruin your outlook on the hobby. Start with a mild, warm weather trip to see if you like it first, then as you get more experience and become more adventurous, expand. Back to the sleeping bag of choice – [amazon_link id=”B006WPZBBA” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Ledge Sports Featherlite 20 degree ultra light sleeping bag[/amazon_link].

The price is right at $40, and the weight is also a bonus coming in at 3.4 pounds. This sleeping bag is nice because is compresses well and takes up minimal room. It is a synthetic fill sleeping bag, so even if it gets wet, it should keep you warm down to 30 degrees or so. It also comes with a stuff sack. Pick up one of these affordable 3 season sleeping bags today!

Food and Water Prep – $35

For cooking your food, this [amazon_link id=”B000P9IR8I” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]stainless steel mess kit[/amazon_link] is just right. It offers a frying pan, pot, two lids (plates) and a plastic 8 ounce cup. At just over $10, all you need to have is a bed of hot coals and you can cook food or heat water.

[amazon_link id=”B004DZMD08″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Seychelle 28oz Flip Top Advanced Filter Water Purification / Filtration Bottle[/amazon_link]As for purifying your water, the [amazon_link id=”B004DZMD08″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Seychelle 28 ounce flip top water filter bottle[/amazon_link] is a high quality option that is affordable ($25). It removes 99.99% of bacteria, virus, contaminants, and pollutants from water. It can filter up to 100 gallons of water, depending on the quality of the water (dirtier water = less filtering capacity). It weighs just 11 ounces and you can fill it up from any body of water along the trail.

The Bottom Line

If you are just getting into backpacking, and you are worried that you won’t like it, it doesn’t make sense to spend a ton of money on gear. I can tell you that if you like nature, exercise, the outdoors, and camping in general, you are going to absolutely love backpacking. But keeping your start-up costs low just in case you don’t is a good idea. The nice thing about all of these items is that they could all be sold used to recoup most of your money if you decide you don’t like backpacking. Another nice thing about all of these items is that if you do like backpacking, they are high quality products that you will be able to enjoy for a long time.

Use this list to find the right gear for your needs. This is just a list of the most essential gear items. I didn’t include hiking boots because they require such a specialized fit and vary greatly in price. For a flat 3 day hiking trip, sturdy tennis shoes should be alright. Other items might include a good flashlight, first aid kit, survival kit, GPS, fitted hiking boots, multi-tool or pocket knife, and a sleeping pad. They will greatly increase your comfort and safety in the backcountry. As always, happy trails!

Do you agree with this list? What would be your $300 starting setup? Leave a comment below. Thanks!

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Backpacking Stocking Stuffer Ideas

With the holidays just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about gifts for the backpacking enthusiast in your life. Most backpacking ideas are a little on the large size to stuff into a stocking, but there are smaller gadgets and tools that every backpacker would be thrilled to see in their stocking this Christmas.

Water Treatment Items

These microfilters and purifiers are perfect to stuff a stocking with. Remember to take them out of the boxes, as this will make your job much easier!

 

Fire Starters

These fire starters make perfect stocking stuffers!

 

Cookware

These are some smaller cooking items that make perfect stocking stuffers.

 

Mischelaneous Camping Gear

Here are some other good ideas for stocking stuffers for the outdoor enthusiast.

Happy shopping and Merry Christmas!

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What Food To Bring On An Extended Backpacking Trip

Any time you spend more than a weekend in the backcountry, carrying enough food is an important consideration. You can always supplement your packed meals by catching native fish or picking wild berries, but you definitely shouldn’t count on these sources of food to survive. What should you pack for a week-long or longer trek? Below, we will go over the basics of planning your backcountry meals for an extended stay backpacking trip.

The Building Blocks Of Life

Food and water are essential for human survival. Most humans can’t live longer than three days without water. Hiking rough terrain with a heavy backpack requires constant water consumption. Depending on activity and body mass, humans can live as long as two weeks without food. But surviving more than a day or two without food limits your ability to find more or get to safety. Since you won’t be able to carry a weeks worth of water on your back, you will need to purify water along the way. This is easy enough to do with a filter (MSR Sweetwater, Katadyn Vario) or by boiling the water, as long as you are hiking near a water source.

Food is a different story. Unless you are Bear Grylls, foraging for food on the trail won’t be an option. You will need to plan on bringing all the food you will need along, and that means packing it all in your bag.

What You Need

The typical caloric intake for an average adult per day is 2000. This will more or less result in no net gain or loss of weight, under regular day to day activity. Backpacking on even flat terrain can be a strenuous physical exercise, let alone on rugged mountain terrain. You should plan on consuming somewhere between 2500 and 3000 calories per day or more, including at least 30-50 grams of protein. This will sustain your frame during the trip and will keep you fueled for the oncoming miles.

Portability Vs Palatability

The argument of portability versus palatability has raged on for decades among the backpacking community. A hot meal after a long hike can seem very refreshing for many hikers, yet a hot meal means you will probably need to pack a camp stove, pot, and hot meal ingredients, which will add extra ounces to your pack. Ultralight minimalist backpackers go to the other extreme of eating trail mix for three meals a day. A healthy balance is necessary here, because some hikers lose their appetite during hot days or at higher altitudes. A hot meal might not seem appealing on those days, and a more light meal might suffice. On the other hand, a hot meal on a cold or wet day might be the morale boost that you need, where cheese and crackers might come up short.

A food item might also be super portable and palatable, yet it just doesn’t work on the trail. For example, peanut butter is a high protein, high energy food that is light and easy to transport. But try to find a good way to get the peanut butter out of whatever you have transported it in. It just makes a mess. If you’re a peanut butter lover, it might be worth the hassle. If not, the dispensability is a nightmare.

Hot Meal Options

MREs

[amazon_link id=”B007HOB4FC” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]MRE (Meals, Ready to Eat) Premium case of 12 Fresh MRE with Heaters. 5 Year Shelf Life.[/amazon_link]Most of us are familiar with MREs. These military rations are packed with calories, and can be supplemented with small snacks throughout the day. Most MREs can be coupled with a one-time-use MRE heater, so you won’t need a stove or other cooking supplies. There are many different entre options available, and plenty of sides to go along. A full MRE meal can have as much as 1500 calories by itself. These are easy to prepare, and loaded with nutrients to keep you going.

MREs are bulky and heavy. You don’t need any water to cook them, which is a plus. However, that means you are carrying extra water weight within these packs. If you have tried an MRE, you might not have been impressed with the flavor. A lot of hikers are particular about what they eat, and MREs usually don’t make the cut based on flavor alone. But if you are looking for an easy hot meal, these are great options.

Freeze-Dried Meals

[amazon_link id=”B000G2TOMM” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Mountain House 72-Hour Emergency Meal Kit[/amazon_link]Mountain House used to own the freeze dried meal market. Now there are a lot of companies offering these type of backpacking rations. Freeze dried meals come in sealed mylar pouches (for a decent shelf life), and there is probably a wider variety of meal options than MREs. The nice thing about these hot meals is that they are dried – meaning there is no extra water weight inside the pouch. They are easy to prepare, and taste much better than MREs.

You will need to boil water to add to the pouch (so what you gain in not having to carry the water weight, you lose in the extra weight of a stove, fuel, and a pot), and the food takes time to reconstitute. These are also great options for hot meals on the trail.

Other Hot Meal Options

MREs and freeze dried meals might be the most convenient hot meals available, but can be a little pricey. If you get creative, you can easily create your own trail meals out of ingredients from your pantry. Here are a couple of ideas:

  • Cup of Noodles
  • Pasta And meat Sauce
  • Instant Oatmeal
  • Instant Soups
  • Instant mashed potatoes
  • Tuna Helper
  • Spam, Tuna, Salami, Salmon

These meal ideas are easy to prepare, and you can create your own portions with ziplock bags.

Cold Meal Options

A lot of backpackers will plan at least one hot meal per day, and this is usually dinner (extra prep time). Breakfast could also easily incorporate a small hot meal (oatmeal with hot chocolate or coffee/tea), but is a good time to go with a quick and easy cold meal. This is where some creativity comes in.

  • Cliff bars
  • Granola bars
  • Trail mix (home made or store bought)
  • Cheese and Crackers
  • Chocolate
  • Nuts
  • Dried Fruit
  • Crackers (animal crackers, Ritz, Triscuit, etc)

The key here is to have a variety of snacks to eat. If you only plan on having one hot meal per day, the rest of the day will be cold foods. The better the variety, the more likely you will keep up with your caloric needs. Taste fatigue can occur if all you eat throughout the day is trail mix. Candy bars are a nice break, but melt easily.

Drinks

Many backpackers get tired of the taste of water on long trips. Having some flavoring powder to liven up your water will do wonders for your morale. GatorAide and PowerAid both make electrolyte replenishing, water flavoring powders. Crystal Light pouches are a sugar free option. The small single serving packets are very light, and easy to add to bottles and hydration bladders.

Pack some instant hot chocolate, cider, tea or coffee for morning/evening sipping pleasure. These packets weigh next to nothing as well, and will help warm you up when it’s cold outside.

Packing It All Up

Backpacking Ziploc MealsBecause your food will take up a good portion of your backpack’s internal space on an extended backpacking trip, it is important to save as much space as possible. Remove unnecessary packaging from foods. For example, take crackers out of their boxes and pack them in single serving Ziploc bags. Remove MREs from their bulky packaging.

Organize your large meals together inside their own Ziploc bag. Label them accordingly. If you are planning group meals, besides organizing your pack, this will also make it easy to pull all the necessary ingredients together for the meal.

Remember to keep snacks within reaching distance. You don’t want to have to take your pack off to dig out some trail mix. Most backpacks have waste belt pockets, which work out perfectly for holding hiking snacks. Another reminder: if you are hiking in bear country, follow all the essential bear country food packing and hanging tips. This will prevent a potentially dangerous encounter. Below, you can click on the image to purchase the Backpacker’s Cache.[amazon_link id=”B0002ZB5Y8″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Backpackers' Cache - Bear Proof Container[/amazon_link]

Just In Case

Preparing backpacking meals can be one of the most time-consuming planning steps of trip planning. Make sure that you go over the daily menu to see that you are getting enough calories and nutrients to keep you going. It is also a good idea to pack a few days extra meals or food, just in case you get stuck in the backcountry longer than expected. Here are some menu ideas, calorie counts, and pictures to help you get started. Happy camping!

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How To Plan An Extended Backpacking Trip

Backpacking in the Grand Teton National Park, ...

Backpacking in the Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Backpacking is a great way to spend time in the great outdoors. Carefully planning your trip is essential for your safety as well as your trail comfort. There isn’t anything worse than getting partway down the trail on the first day of a multi-day trek only to find that you have forgotten an essential piece of gear. Forgetting a piece of gear on a weekend trip is one thing; for week-long or extended trips, it can become a safety issue. Below, we will go over several tips on planning an extended backpacking trip so that your hike goes smoothly.

Plan Your Party

Are you a solo hiker, or do you prefer to hike with others as part of a larger group? If you aren’t an experienced backpacker, you might want to go with at least one other person. Most of us know the story of Aron Ralston, who was hiking alone in a slot canyon in southern Utah and ended up having to cut off his own arm to escape alive. Hiking in a group not only gives you company on the trail, but provides protection from wild animals and safety when emergencies strike. Safety in numbers applies here.

Remember to choose companions that have similar abilities and likes. Some hikers like to hike fast, while others like to take more breaks and enjoy the views. Some like flat terrain, while others prefer rugged mountaineering. If you put different types of backpackers in the same group, one type is bound to be unhappy with the pace, terrain, etc. Keep this in mind while planning your backpacking party.

Plan The Route Details

A simple dry magnetic pocket compass

Planning an extended backpacking trip can be tedious, especially when there are multiple voices expressing their opinions. But that doesn’t mean that you can skip this step. Make sure everyone is on the same page before you start hiking. In this stage, you need to plan the exact route that you will be hiking. This will allow you to determine the total length, the duration of the trip, and each day’s mileage. Think about the geographic location and the time of year. These factors will greatly weigh on what gear you pack. Invest in some high quality topographical maps of the area, and learn how to read them. Also learn how to use a compass, so you can navigate with these maps. GPS devices are nice, but they are heavy and they could fail you at any time. Make sure you have a backup plan to getting around in the backcountry.

Check local regulations for backcountry permits, fishing permits, camping restrictions, campfire restrictions, or other special considerations. Will you be hiking in bear country? If so, remember to follow guidelines about proper food storage.

Gather Your Gear

Once you know the nitty gritty details of your trip, it is time to gather the gear together and pack it all in your backpack. This makes a great pre-trip activity for your group, so get everyone together to assess the gear situation. Remember to think about the weather and temperature conditions of the terrain you will be hiking. There is a significant difference in the weight of sleeping bags, for example, for cold vs. warm weather camping. If you will be hiking in the mountains, the weather can turn at any moment, so it is wise to have warm clothing just in case.

Backpack

[amazon_link id=”B001BBIMPM” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Gregory Denali Pro 105 Mountaineering Pack (Chili Red,Large)[/amazon_link]For an extended backpacking trip, your backpack needs to be large enough to carry all the gear you need. Food will take up a ton of room on a week-long or longer hike. Expect to use a backpack with at least 4000 cubic inches of internal storage, if not more. Here is an article on the top 5 expedition backpacks on the market, and is a good resource for choosing your pack.

Food

You will generally want to have between 2500 and 3000 calories per day while on the trail. The more strenuous the hike, the more calories, and particularly protein, you will need to replenish your body. For extended backpacking trips of a week or longer, it can be a challenge to pack enough food to last the trip. Remember that dry food is lighter than wet food, and it is a good idea to pack a few days of extra emergency food, in case you get stuck. Here is a more in depth article on planning your extended backpacking trip food and meals.

Food Prep

[amazon_link id=”B005EM37UY” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Jetboil Sumo Titanium Personal Cooking System (Sand)[/amazon_link]Food preparation items can easily be distributed among the backpacking party. Split the fuel, stove, and pots up to even out the weight.

Water

It will be impossible to carry a weeks worth of water on your back, along with the other essential gear items. This is where it is very important to plan your backpacking trip near water sources, such as rivers, streams, and lakes. You don’t have to hike along a river or stream the entire time, but make sure you have stops at several watering holes per day.

[amazon_link id=”B003A1MURC” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]SteriPEN Adventurer Opti Handheld UV Water Purifier[/amazon_link]There are several ways to purify and carry water. Backpacking filters such as the MSR Sweetwater and Katadyn Vario are great for large groups. The SteriPen Adventurer Opti is an ultralight portable method for sterilizing your water. You can always boil it on a camp stove, but this will require extra fuel, which means more weight. Water bottle filters are also another way to go, since they incorporate a filter within your carrying mechanism.

Tents

Most minimalist backpackers tend to shy away from tents, since they are trying to carry the least amount of weight possible. Sleeping under the stars has its perks, but for an extended trip, you are bound to have a few foul weather nights. There are tons of backpacking tents on the market today. The key is finding a backpacking tent that offers the right balance of comfort and durability, while being as lightweight as possible.

[amazon_link id=”B0036GT87G” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2 Person Tent[/amazon_link]One of the best lightweight backpacking tents on the market is the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2. There are several other options under the Tents category. The nice thing is that these tents are all 2 person tents, so you can break up your party into groups of two and distribute the weight around.

Sleeping Bags

[amazon_link id=”B0034HTDAY” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Marmot Helium MemBrain Down Sleeping Bag, Regular-Left, Blue[/amazon_link]The sleeping bag you pack really depends on the time of year and expected weather of your backpacking location. If you plan on cold, inclement weather, opt for a synthetic bag rated at least 20 degrees below the expected temperatures. Synthetic sleeping bags will keep you warm even if they get wet, but are typically heavier than their down counterparts.

Clothing

Many beginning backpackers fail miserably when it comes to packing the right clothing for their trip. Here is what you need to think about:

  • What is the weather like?
  • What time of year will I be hiking?
  • How cold do the nights/early mornings get?
  • How warm are the afternoons?

The answers to these questions vary immensely depending on where you decide to trek. But generally, you want to remember a few things when packing clothing:

  • Avoid cotton
  • Use clothing that will keep you warm even when wet (think wool and synthetic fleece)
  • Pack clothing that layers well (synthetic base layer, insulating layer, and outer layers)
  • Pack extra high-quality hiking socks – these are vital to keeping your feet healthy and comfortable
  • Don’t forget rain gear

As for how much clothing you should pack, this is really up to you. You will be dirty in the backcountry; there just isn’t any way around it. If packing a few extra shirts and undergarments helps you stay comfortable, then do it. Otherwise, try to get the most use out of each article of clothing that you can. The less clothing you pack, the more space you have for other gear items.

Hiking Boots

[amazon_link id=”B002LH40EC” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Scarpa Men's Bhutan GTX Man Hiking/Trail,Mud,43 Wide EU/10 Wide US Men[/amazon_link]The hiking boots that you use are very important to your comfort and ability to hike rugged terrain. Take your time choosing the right boots. Go to an outdoors supplier, and talk to an expert on the right fit. Make sure they are comfortable with the socks you have, as most wool-blend hiking socks are extra-thick. For more on choosing the right hiking boots, read our 2 part series here.

Miscellaneous Gear

The following list is not all inclusive of what you should bring, but is a good starting point for you rounding out the gear you might want to bring along.

  • First aid kit
  • Personal hygiene kit
  • Fire starting kit
  • Fishing kit
  • Flashlights (headlamps, lanterns)
  • Trekking poles
  • Binoculars
  • Multi-tool
  • Pocket knife

Camp comfort items – the following are a few comfort items, only if you have the space to carry them.

  • Small camp chair
  • Sandals
  • Swimming suit
  • Book
  • iPod

Trim Excess Weight

As you start to narrow down the gear you want to pack for your trip, get a scale and weigh everything. Tally up the total to see where you stand. At this point, you will want to start trimming excess ounces. Ounces add up to pounds, and too many pounds equals an unpleasant backpacking trip. For each item, ask yourself this question:

  • “Do I absolutely need this item?”

If the answer is no, leave it at home. If the item is a comfort item that you are not ready to live without on the trail, do your best to find the lightest alternative on the market. Another way to justify an item is to make sure it serves more than one purpose (the Jetboil cooking system utilizes a synthetic lid that also doubles as a throwing disc, for fun at the base camp).

As a group, distribute any gear items that serve a group function, such as tents, cooking items, etc. There might be more able backpackers in the group that can carry additional weight. If so, see if they would be willing to shoulder more of a burden to help out smaller framed hikers or novices.

Pack And Practice

Arcteryx Bora 95 Packing Guide

It might be worthwhile to plan an overnight or weekend practice run for the group. Pack up your bags and gear as if you were trekking for the duration of the extended trip, but just spend a night or two on the trail. This is a great way to make sure you have everything you need, as well as to test the load and weight of your pack. You might have packed too much, or maybe you feel like you can shoulder more weight. You also might find that the load is distributed incorrectly in your pack. All of these insights will help you have a more enjoyable time on the real extended trip.

Inventory Check

Before you leave, make sure everything you need is in your pack. A checklist is a good way to accomplish this, and also have a buddy look over your list and gear. This is also a good time to make sure everything is in working order. Test your water filter, camp stove, GPS (spare batteries), flashlights, and other items. Replace filters or batteries if you need to.

Itinerary

Before you take off, make sure you leave a detailed itinerary with a friend or relative that isn’t going on the hike. Include the route and location, the duration, where you plan to camp, who is hiking with you, and when you expect to return. If there are any problems in the backcountry, they will be able to get a hold of search and rescue to come find you and your party. Just don’t forget to contact them when you get home!

Bear Country Hiking

If you are planning on hiking in bear country, don’t think that your large group will keep a hungry bear from snooping around your campsite. Be smart and use bear-proof canisters for food. Also, don’t use a tent that has previously had food in it. This can cause dangerous encounters while you are sleeping.

Hang ALL of your food (snacks, meals, ingredients, even sealed energy bars and gels) from a tree. DO NOT bring any food inside your tent. This also goes for anything scented, such as shampoo, hair products, lotions, toothpaste, deodorant, gum and candy.

[amazon_link id=”B002E6VAHK” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Frontiersman Bear Attack Deterrent with Hip Holster[/amazon_link]Pepper spray has been proven to be one of the best deterrents of an attacking or charging bear. If you are hiking in bear country, at least a few members (if not everyone) should have a canister of bear spray.

Have Fun!

Remember that backpacking is a great way to spend time in the great outdoors with family and friends. It takes a lot of work to plan and put together an extended backpacking trip, but the effort is well worth it to get away from the cares of the world. Good luck and have fun!

What did we miss? Leave comments below to add to these tips.

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