Preparing For The Adventure

Each time I prepare my gear for the weekend, what and how I pack obviously depends on the length, the weather, and destination of my trip. As you begin your first few day hikes or backpack trips, you may find that you are planning to bring more items strictly in the matter of comfort over function.

I recommend, for at least your first few trips, let this process happen.

On a long backpack trip, it is true that every ounce matters. Even trivial items add up and take valuable space very quickly.

You will go through a process of fine-tuning after each trip based on what you find that you really will need and use.

I’m not saying pack up and bring one of those Coleman camp kitchens and/or a collapsible shower, but clothing that you know will keep you warm and comfortable may be useful on your first trip or two.

But as a continuous process, the goal is to bring a lighter version or even less items with you on your trips.

This is Hidden Lake in the North Cascades.

Here is what I bring on a standard overnight (I use the Osprey Atmos 65 liter pack):

Tent with ground tarp

Sleeping bag

Sleeping pad

Bear canister (mandatory in the Olympic National Park, but a good idea to bring just about anywhere).

Cooking set (mine has a Jetboil, extra canister of fuel, eating utensils, coffee and Mountain House meals)

Water filter

Extra layer of clothing, including socks

3 liters of drinking water, usually 2 additional for cooking if not near a water source.

Camera gear and tripod

Camping chair


NOTE: these items are in addition to my Ten Essentials, that I bring on every hike:

Map of the area

GPS or compass

Sunscreen and sunglasses

Headlamp/flashlight with extra batteries

First aid kit

Fire starting kit

Waterproof matches


Extra clothing (don’t forget socks!)

Utility knife

(This is not truly a definitive list, just a guide to give new backpackers an idea of what you will be carrying).

There is nothing like camping under the Milky Way. This is from the wildeness near Greenwater, WA.

It may take a few trips to decide exactly how you will put this in your pack, but the best advice I could give is try to store each item in the same place every time.

In future blogs, I will break down the gear that I bring on each backpacking trip, and how I pack it in.

See you guys soon!

Learn some great hiking and photography tricks, while preserving our amazing wilderness!

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