What To Prepare For A Camping Trip?

“Carry as little as possible, but choose that little with care.” – Earl Shaffer

Backpacking gear can be the make-or-break factor of a camping/hiking trip. The memories of my short 2017 section-hike on the Appalachian Trail still manage to give me fits of agony that jolt through my body every now and then. I have struggled with the minimalist approach in the past, but have eventually got acquainted with the fact that it is the key to successful backpacking as well as a mindful way of living.

However, with minimalism comes the requirement of quality (by the mantra, quality over quantity), and hence my quest for intensive gear research before I tackled the South Rim of Grand Canyon. The daily of 9-11 miles of uphill and downhill became a lot more bearable with my gear, most of which I purchased after going to my closest outfitter store, the Walkabout Outfitter (located in Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA), reading hundreds of reviews online, and comparing prices for months on different online stores.

Here are some of the key products I used:

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  1. Backpack (Women’s) – Osprey Viva 50 Pack
  2. Hydration – 2L Hydration Pack Water Bladder & Cooler Bag
  3. Camping Cookware – MalloMe camping cookware mess kit 10PC
  4. Sleeping Pad – Thermarest Foam Sleeping Pad with Reflective Heat Surface
  5. Water Purifier – Katadyn Hiker Microfilmer Water Filter
  6. Hiking Sandals – Champion Cushion Fit Sandals
  7. Water Purifier – Katadyn Hiker Microfilmer Water Filter 
  8. First Aid Kit – Lifeline Trail Light Day hiker First Aid Kit
  9. Headlamp – Energizer HDA32E LED Headlamp
  10. Hiking Socks – Columbia Hiking Medium-Weight Socks 

  11. Hammock –  Therm-A-Rest Slacker Hammock 

Backpack – Osprey Viva 50 Pack: Women’sScreen Shot 2018-04-08 at 10.40.52 AM

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Dimensions: 78h x 36w x 30d centimeters (or 31h x 14w x 12d inches)

This is hands down the most adjustable backpack you will find. It is adjustable for a variety of torso shapes without having to sacrifice comfort. There are pockets wherever you run your hands on the outer surface, including two side pockets on the torso strap.

Good for short weekend trips and week long camping trips, this backpack makes it so easy for me to walk hours in a row. The compression straps cinched up, make it a great day-hike bag too. I barely felt the weight on my torso and shoulders through my trip. It fit everything I needed for the Grand Canyon trip including an externally attached two-person tent, a sleeping pad, and a sleeping bag; rather impressive. I had food, clothes, journal and a camera that fit in. However, they could have a better design to compartmentalize for the division of contents.

The backpack isn’t rain proof, so thats one thing to consider; but Osprey makes really good rain covers for bags like these that only cost $30. I bought the bag at my local Walkabout Outfitter for $180 last year. They come in two colors: sea green and cool blue. According to REI.com,  the following are a few of its features in a more condensed form:

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Better Alternative: If you are going for a one-time expense all purpose backpack, for $60 more, you could buy the Osprey Aura AG 50 Pack. AG stands for Anti Gravity, which is an amazing technical design to contour perfectly to the body so that it fits with maximum comfort.

Cheaper Alternative: Osprey TEMPEST 30, which feels more like a day pack of a decent size. My hiking partner Jessica carried this bag through our week long trip. Yes, it requires more minimalism and probably can only hold a sleeping bag vs. a tent, but if used to its maximum capacity can suffice for a decent hiking trip. It helps that it weighs less and is cheaper.

Tip: I would highly recommend going to a close outfitter store and trying these bags on, to see what sits well with your body.

Hydration – 2L Hydration Pack Water Bladder & Cooler Bag Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 11.38.36 AM

I bought the 2L Freemove hydration pack and cooler bag for a total of $19 with Amazon Prime. The hydration bladder itself is delicate and really needs to be handled with care, but once kept inside the cooler bag, it stays put and also keeps the water cool. The bladder needs to be washed with detergent and water before use. It is also advised to fill it with water overnight before usage so you do not taste/smell the plastic while usage.

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I found it easy to clean and the water flow through the mouthpiece during my hike was excellent. A huge plus is that the valve has an On/Off button that allows you to drink water only when you want to and avoid leakage altogether. The tube can be connected or disconnected from the bladder without leakage too.

The only thing to be careful about is to pack it very safely for trips, since it is delicate after all. Jessica’s tube broke in the checked-in suitcase which was really unfortunate. Mine stayed intact. A lot of Amazon ratings during my research pointed out that this is a good buy for all sorts of sports: cycling, hiking, running or water sports.

Camping Cookware – MalloMe camping cookware mess kit 10PC Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 12.02.32 PM

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The original website sells it for $26.95, but I bought it from Amazon Prime for $19.99. It is a rather compact cookware set. I didn’t carry a stove for my hike, since a lot of what I at was just cold burritos with different fillings, so didn’t really ‘cook’ anything, but we ate ramen a couple of times and would fill the cookware with water and ramen, leaving it put for about an hour, until the ramen cooks naturally. The last day of our camping, we rinsed it with water and wiped it clean, which seemed fairly easy to do.

I guess the only thing that was missing was the knife, but we had that covered separately.  It helped that that it was pretty light to carry.

 

Sleeping Pad – Thermarest Foam Sleeping Pad with Reflective Heat Surface Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 11.38.36 AM

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Another gear much cheaper in Amazon Prime ($34.95) was probably the most important gear for camping conformability. You would think that a sleeping bag is enough to lay wrapped inside, but not quite. These sleeping pads are light as air and are technically designed to keep warm. The come in two sizes:  the regular, which is 20 x 72-Inches, and the small, which is 20 x 47-Inches. For my hight (5’7”) I had to purchase the regular size. It was truly a relief sleeping on a foam pad, as it not only trapped heat but also was easy on my sore body after a long day of hiking.

I had no idea these things existed, until I saw a couple of section-hikers at the Appalachian Trail who had these strapped to their bags, which left me wondering.

Hiking Sandals – Champion Cushion Fit Sandals Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 12.02.32 PM

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Chacos– the ‘it’ hiking sandals failed me. They are the best known brand, however they don’t make sandals that cater to thew flat footed. After trying Chacos out at Walkabout Outfitters a couple of times, and realizing how hard it was on my flat feet, I started looking for other options. That is not to say that if you aren’t  flat feet, you won’t enjoy Chacos, because it is designed just for you.

However, I went to target and found my cheaper alternative: Champion Sandals. They really are ‘cushion fit’ and for just $23, relatively durable and comfortable. I enjoy them more than my Nike trainers (tennis shoes). I wear them through a lot of my hikes and long walks. They also have a firm grip against the ground when rock scrabbling, and I found them to be barely slippery if at all, compared to my (more expensive) hiking boots.

Pro: You can get wet in them – they are very comfortable to wear in muddy/watery conditions and usually dry really quick (5-10 mins). They also stretch at your heal hence creating a better fit.

Water Purifier – Katadyn Hiker Microfilmer Water Filter Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 10.40.52 AM

 

From Amazon Prime for 55$, this easy to use water filter helped us consume water filtered straight from the creek without getting sick. Although I personally didn’t pump the water off of it, Jessica did, and she found the instructions to be fairly easy and the device to be mechanically sound. It is decent sized and not as heavy, although heavier than our other gear like the dish set and medical kit.

However, it was tricky to hold our water bladders while pumping to fill since there is a lot going on for a single person to be able to filter the water. Using both hands trying to hold and simultaneously pump the water, it becomes impossible to grab the water bladder/bottle during the process, so lucky for us, we were two doing the work.

In terms of filtration itself though, the system purified water really well and we were satisfied with it.

First Aid Kit- Lifeline Trail Light Day hiker First Aid KitScreen Shot 2018-04-10 at 4.10.33 PM

 

Luckily, I didn’t have the opportunity to use the first aid kit, since the trip was fairly safe all in all, but I managed to find a good ‘lightweight’ first aid kit that contained most of the  stuff that I wanted for a decent backpacking/camping trip. I found the Lifeline kit on Amazon Prime for only $9.88 with some really good customer experience.

The only con is that it is a very basic beginners kit, and if you are leaving for a trip longer than a week, or more technical than just a hike (or example, rock climbing or bouldering), then this isn’t the product for you. The tape and tweezers are not of the greatest quality, but they can be easily replaced with ones you might already have at home. The following are all of its contents put together by the lifeline website:

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Pro: Even though the kit is super-light, there is still space in the cover itself to add more stuff to it. I would personally also add a small vaseline container and a pair of mini scissors/knife.

Headlamp – Energizer HDA32E LED HeadlampScreen Shot 2018-04-08 at 11.38.36 AM

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It is not very often that you get such a good gear piece for such a cheep price. I got this headlamp on Amazon Prime for only $10. The strap is super adjustable with a good stretch material that allows a perfect fit around your head. The light itself is very bright and can literally light up the whole tent if need be.

My only concern using this close-to-perfect product was its tricky head lamp tilting mechanism. It makes a loud clicking sound while tilting it in an up and down motion.  It almost felt like I was about to break the lamp but not really. As long as you can ignore that sharp jerk, this lamp is worth the buck!IMG_7958

Hiking Socks – Columbia Hiking Medium-Weight Socks Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 11.38.36 AM

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Originally for $16.94 in Amazon Prime, these magical pair of socks were available at target for sale of $5. I lucked out at finding cold weather socks of great quality and sound warmth. The small size was good enough for me and went a good couple of inches above my ankle. At nights especially it kept me warm in 30°F (-1°C) weather inside a tent. The only downside was that during daytime it got subsequently warmer, and hence my feet sweat and having thick socks didn’t help much except for cushion-like comfortability.

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Hammock –  Therm-A-Rest Slacker Hammock Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 12.02.32 PM

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With long straps and light material, this hammock was the perfect choice for a long backpacking trip. It doesn’t zip up or keep warm during low temperatures, but it is a perfect choice for summer-time hiking. There is a little pouch on the side spacious enough to fit your phone/bottle/energy bars, but not spacious enough for a novel. I am 5’7” and it was large for me so I am more than sure that it could fit heights of over 6 ft.

 

Some of the additional gear I had ware a couple of carabiners, ropes, a pocket knife, a whistle and a hiking stick. I truly have come to care about sustainability, hence I recommend buying good gear even if it is expensive, as it can be a long term investment and help produce less waste. Few other ways to be sustainable during hiking is to minimize the use of tissues and plastic waste. It is advisable to use a washable towel whenever possible and shower once in a couple of days, assuming there is a water stream on your hike. Jessica’s idea of getting a water filter really helped us use natural water and avoid throwable plastic bottles altogether.  We also didn’t shower through our backpacking trip and wore only two-three pair of clothes.

I am looking for more suggestions when it comes to ecotourism and sustainability while connecting with nature through backpacking. Hence if you have any feedback on the gear reviews or ideas to hike more sustainably, please feel free to share on the comments section below.

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Hope you are having a great day,

Signing out,

Arushi Sachan

 

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3 Comments

  1. Promila Jethwani says:

    Keep up the good work – I love reading your articles.

    Like

  1. […] Read more about my hiking adventures: Havasu Falls, The Hidden Treasure of Planet A Week On The Appalachian Trail Why am I hiking The Appalachian Trail? Kayaking in Hatta Water Dam What To Prepare For A Camping Trip? […]

    Like

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