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18 Backpacking Gear Items You Need, According to Outdoor Professionals

The great outdoors awaits!

Whether you’re new to backpacking or have already embarked on a few trips, you may have considered purchasing your own backpacking gear. You’ll need to get essentials—backpack, tent, sleeping bag, and pad. But do some quick digging, and you’ll quickly realize you also need to purchase equally vital equipment like stoves and water-filtration devices.

Sorting through all of the options can be a whirlwind, but if you start with two key questions, you’ll narrow down your options and make the process much more simple. Here’s what to think about:

  • What type of climates do you plan on backpacking in?
    If you’re only hiking during ideal weather conditions, you can get by with warm weather backpacking gear. If you plan to backpack during the winter or mid rainy season in the Pacific Northwest, you’ll want to prioritize warm, waterproof materials.
  • Will you be spending more of your time hiking or more of your time at camp?
    This decision will help you decide whether you want to travel light or splurge on some comfort items. Lightweight gear allows you to travel faster and farther while minimizing the stress on your body. But if you plan to spend time relaxing at camp, you may want to upgrade your sleep system with items like a roomy tent and cushy sleeping pad.


Regardless of how you answered those questions, you should always look to invest in long-lasting backpacking gear that will hold up to any adventure. Even if you’re going lightweight, look for products made from durable, rip-proof materials.

With that in mind, we asked backpacking experts for tips on the backpacking gear they don’t want to live without. Explore the tips written by Hannah Singleton here.

LAST UPDATED

May 6, 2022

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While DEET products may be more familiar by name and their chemical smell, sprays with 20 percent picaridin, like Sawyer Products, offer comparable protection without the harsh odor and oily feeling on your skin.

Kevin Brouillard
Travel & Leisure

MEDIA MENTIONS

The Sawyer Squeeze was (by far) the most common Pacific Crest Trail water filter this year – for the fifth year in a row. It’s a $39, 3 oz / 85 g hollow fiber filter that rids your drinking water of protozoa and bacteria (and floaties). It can be used with Sawyer bags (included with the filter) or with compatible water bottles (Smartwater is the bottle of choice for many hikers).

Halfway Anywhere
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MEDIA MENTIONS

SAWYER MINI WATER FILTER, $22 This has been my water filter of choice for years now. The bags can be iffy — I have had a few break – so carry a couple. However, the filter itself is reliable, light and inexpensive. -Logan

Bikepacking Team