What Gear Do You Need and Where Do You Put It?
Hiking might seem like a “gear sport” if you’re new to it, and there is an unquestionable initial investment that comes with spending more time outdoors. The truth is, though, if you know what to bring, you can get a lot of use out of a few good pieces — and hiking can be an enjoyable and not-too-expensive pastime.
Understanding how to properly keep your hiking equipment so it’s easy to find and ready to use even after long periods in storage can take a lot of the hassle out of getting organized for your next adventure. Here are our suggestions for the gear you need and how to keep it protected when you aren’t using it.
Without protection from the elements, you’re going to be one tired, unhappy camper. While there are often opportunities to sleep beneath the stars or take advantage of a pre-made shelter, you can’t assume either one will be there.
Tents are the most popular camping shelters. Ultralight enthusiasts will also use a hammock or a lightweight tarp that can be stretched into a shelter using camping poles. Make sure you choose something light and durable.
2. Sleeping Gear
A sleeping bag is the next piece you need to have for a camping expedition. It’s typically smart to choose one rated for cooler temperatures than you plan to camp in. Beneath your sleeping bag you’ll want to set up an inflatable pad.
Down sleeping bags are popular for their warmth and compressibility, while synthetic bags have the advantage of staying warm when wet. If you know you’ll be in the rain, you can find waterproof sleeping bags and bivouacs.
You don’t need a lot of clothes for a weekend hike. Make them lightweight and breathable, and choose odor-resistant technical fibers, not cotton. Always use wool socks and bring more than you need, they stay warm when wet and regulate body temperature.
Depending on terrain, you can choose a pair of hiking shoes or boots. You will need to know what weather conditions you’ll be hiking through to make the best choice, and, of course, personal preference comes into play.
Many hikers will tell you that having lighter gear lets you bring more food. If you go that route, you aren’t forced to live on freeze-dried meals and dedicated camping food.
Trail mix lives up to its name as a high-protein, high-calorie snack. Dried meats and cheeses, as well as pita bread are also good choices, as are sports bars. For meals, you need options that can be made with boiled water that won’t perish. Many pasta products work well for this, or you can check out the dedicated freeze-dried meals for more options.
Storing Your Gear When You’re Not Using It
What to do you do with your gear when you’re not using it? You want to store your equipment in a cool dry place where it won’t be harmed by critters. Consider dedicating a section of your garage for camping equipment and using plastic sealable containers to keep everything together.
This makes it easy to grab everything, remove what you don’t need, throw it in the truck and get out of town. It also protects your equipment from dirt, insects and pests.
Now go have an adventure! Remember that it’s not just about the gear. Yes, it’s wise to be prepared, but something new happens every time you go out. That’s why you do it — you’ll learn as much about yourself as you do about the world around you.
Scott Huntington is a writer from central Pennsylvania. He enjoys working on his home and garden with his wife and 2 kids. Follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington