11 Pro Tips for Packing for Your First Backpacking Trip

Otherwise, look into renting gear, at least until you decide backpacking is something you want to continue doing. REI offers gear rentals for bigger-ticket items like backpacks, sleeping pads, sleeping bags, and tents. You can also check with your local outdoor retailer to see if they offer a similar program. But do be sure to ask how things work, and practice setting up camp at home before you hit the trail. I rented gear for my first backpacking trip and didn’t realize the sleeping pad I had actually inflated until I was rolling it up to go home.Backpacking Backpacking Backpacking Backpacking Backpacking

4. If you’d like to buy your gear, focus on getting the lightest possible versions of the big items.

Backpacks, tents, and sleeping bags are all big things that are necessary, so it’s key to find ones that are lightweight.

For packs, Fleming suggests looking at Deuter and Osprey models like the AirContact 70 or the Talon 44. I backpacked for three months last year using the ULA Circuit and loved it. But packs are personal, and it comes down to the right pack that fits you and your needs. It’s definitely worth going into an outdoor retailer and trying on packs to make sure you find one that’s comfortable on your body.Backpacking Backpacking Backpacking Backpacking Backpacking

When it comes to a tent, McIntosh likes the REI Quarterdome 2. “It gives you a nice amount of space but is really quite light,” she says. Fleming has had luck with the Big Agnes Copper Spur 2. On my trip last year, I opted for a super compact one-person tent, the NEMO Hornet 1.

Sleeping bags can surprisingly get very expensive. Generally speaking, prices go up as both the temperature limit and weight decrease. A bag made with synthetic fill is usually less expensive but will take up more room in your pack. McIntosh recommends the REI Lyra for an inexpensive synthetic option. For down, she likes the REI Joule. I started with a Teton synthetic bag and later invested in an Enlightened Equipment quilt that was lighter and took up less space in my pack.

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