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A Packing List for Backpacking

Sometimes I worry that we use the term “camping” too liberally. It refers to so much more than a simple tent at a campfire. RV camping, winter camping, camping to hike, camping by the river next to your kayak? There are so many ways to camp and activities that can get you to your camp site – and they all require different types of packing. As a mildly obsessive parson who likes a good list, I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about what has to be brought on a camping trip.

The only type of camping I have ever done is backpacking. I absolutely love the simplicity of it – just nature and me and whatever I can carry on my back. A recent post on the Camping Gear Outlet Facebook page made me realize that this simplicity isn’t necessarily known knowledge. So for anyone venturing out on a backpacking trip for the first time, here’s my backpacking packing list.

Mummy Sleeping Bag and Stuff Sack
I like sleeping bags with the mummy shape because they are snug around my body, which ensures warmth. If it gets too warm, I just unzip! Mummies really are more versatile than the square sleeping bags. With a good stuff sack, sleeping bags can be squished down into incredibly small, easily packed balls.

Fleece Jacket
Always, always have a fleece jacket with you. Fleece isn’t important simply because of its warmth; it’s incredible when wet. Fleece will continue to insulate you even when wet and it dries very quickly. Cotton, in contrast, will take ages to dry and will make you cold when it gets wet. Whether you might get caught in rain or you are sweating while hiking, fleece is a must have. My fleece also doubles as a pillow at night.

Sleeping Pad
A sleeping pad is so essential for comfortable sleeping and for staying warm. I prefer self-inflating ones because they are both easy to set up and comfy. If you fold the pad in half lengthwise before rolling it up, these pads can pack much smaller than a foam pad.

Waterproof windbreakerI am primarily a warm weather camper, so I combine the standard raingear and light jacket into one. A waterproof windbreaker or a light raincoat is enough to keep me warm and dry, whether it is raining or just unexpectedly breezy. Plus, the material is easily balled up so it is tiny for packing.

Extra Socks
After being caught in one thunderstorm in the woods, you will never ever forget to pack extra socks. The lightning position involves crouching low on your sleeping pad with your heels touching; the sleeping pad insulates you from the ground and the touching heels makes sure that if a lightning current does find you, it will travel up one foot and back out the other. After a few hours of that, you will be tired and cold. If you don’t have extra socks, you will never warm up. You need extra socks.

4 Comments

  1. I always like to bring along some snacks that come pre-packaged and for cold weather camping I always bring Hot Hands; you put them inside your gloves and they warm you right up.

  2. Sleeping are the best choice for all occasions. No hassles at all!

  3. Incredible quest there. What happened after?
    Thanks!

  4. Havig read this I thought it was very enlightening. I appreciate you taking the time annd effort to put this informative
    article together. I once again ind myself personally spending way too much time both reading and leavinmg comments.
    But so what, it was still worthwhile!

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