This post contains affilliate links, which means purchases made by clicking on my links may result in me receiving a small commission at no additional cost to you! Thank you for your support!
Happy Monday! We are already halfway through summer. Can you believe that? Summer is my favorite season because there is so much to do. I love being outside as much as possible during the summertime. That’s why today I’m sharing my essential gear guide for the beginner backpacker!
We just went on our first real backpacking trip about a month ago. We planned our trip for about a year in advance. We actually intended to go on the trip last summer, until my husband broke his foot and we weren’t able to go. But it worked out. Delaying our trip meant that we were able to do a TON of research on the best essentials for beginner backpackers like us. That means I did all the work in tracking down the best essentials so you don’t have to! Check out my picks below the break!
Beginner Backpacker Essentials
Your backpack will be one of the most important items you’ll buy as a beginner backpacker. Consider if you’ll want a pack that has an internal or external frame. Internal frames tend to be less jarring when you’re hiking, so that’s what I prefer. Also, consider the capacity of the packs. Typically, a 30-50 liter pack will be the perfect size for a night or two’s worth of gear. 50-75 liters will serve great for a multi-night hike, between 3-4 days depending on how efficient of a packer you are. Any longer than that and you’ll likely want to invest into a 75+ liter pack.
We opted for the Teton Sports Scout 3400 and Explorer 4000 internal frame packs. The Scout pack has a 55 liter capacity, and the Explorer has a 65 liter capacity. We went this route because my husband is stronger than I am and can therefore carry the bulk of our heavier gear. These packs also come with a built-in rain fly to keep your gear dry in the case of unexpected storms.
We went hiking in the mountains, and I have weak ankles. Because of this, we opted for the traditional, higher-top hiking boots over a more minimal shoe. We both bought the Vasque Breeze 2.0 hiking boots and they did not disappoint! They provided great support, and were very waterproof. We trekked through small streams and our feet stayed nice and try. Not only that, but even after hiking 12 hour days, our feet were minimally sore. You will likely want to size up, as your feet will swell. I sized up a half size, but I could probably have sized up a full size.
When shopping for a sleeping bag, make sure you are looking for an Ultralight bag that is made specifically for backpacking. You’ll want your sleeping back to take up as little space as possible! We decided on the Teton Sports +5F Ultralight sleeping bag because it only weighed 4.1 lbs and would keep us warm in all seasons. It is a mummy-shaped bag, which I prefer because it keeps me nice and warm at night. The sleeping bags come with a compression sack to easily pack your sleeping back into your backpack compartment.
If you’re going to be out in the wilderness for a few days, you’ll want to consider an ultralight, small tent. We opted for a 2-person tent that had just enough room for us to sleep and that was about it! You won’t be spending a lot of time in your tent, so it’s best to go with something small. After all, you will be carrying your tent with you for miles at a time. Make sure you pick a tent that has a full-coverage rain fly! We made the mistake with our first tent of not having a full-coverage rain fly, and ended up getting soaked in a storm.
Water Filter & Bladder
If you’re roughin it, you’ll absolutely want to invest in a good water filter. Luckily, the top-of-the-line water filters are extremely affordable! We bought the Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System. The Sawyer promises to filter 99.99999% percent of all bacteria. It was simply incredible. We filtered stagnant, brown lake water through the Sawyer and out came clean, clear, thirst-quenching water.
A good water bladder is going to be essential as well. Make sure you fill up your bladder before you leave! Choose a water bladder with a large opening and an on/off valve to prevent leaks while you’re walking.
Cooking Gear & Food
There is nothing like a delicious hot meal at the end of the day. So look for cooking gear that is lightweight and cools quickly. We use the Bisgear 12/16 pc set that comes with two size pots, a stove, stand, silverware set, cleaning cloth, biner clip, and a convenient carrying case. You will want to buy some portable gas tanks to heat your food, as they are not included.
We pack protein bars, trail mix, and other snacks for while on the trail. Our favorite meals though are by Mountain House. They are the best-reviewed freeze-dried food on Amazon, and they do not disappoint! Our favorites are the Chili Mac with Beef, Breakfast Skillet, and Chicken Teriyaki.
Lastly, don’t forget a cup! When you sit down at the end of a long day, drinking out of a cup feels like a mini luxury. We bought Starbucks Via packs to make coffee in the morning.
Shop my picks here! And stay tuned for more of my beginner backpacker’s essentials coming soon!
Are you a beginner backpacker or a seasoned hiker? What are your on-the-trail essentials? Let me know in the comments!