Do you know the difference between backpacking gear and hiking gear? If you don’t then you should. Backpacking gear is designed specifically for this purpose – to make hiking as easy as possible without removing all of your comfort. On the other hand, backpacking gear is meant to be durable, heavy-duty and waterproof, so it will stand up to the elements in any situation.
To understand the difference, you need to look at backpacking gear in its most basic form. Think of all of the items you would put on a backpack – water, food, utensils, etc. Now add some weight to the equation, and you have backpacking gear! Waterproof tents such as the popular Marmot Diamondback Tent are a good example of this. They are lightweight and highly waterproof, while weighing practically nothing.
Another key characteristic of backpacking gear is its weight. Lightweight backpacks are perfect for any day hikes or day-long trips. But they are also much less comfortable than heavier backpacks. The trade-off is weight for comfort. Of course, lighter backpacking gear can also be more difficult to carry because it is easier to compress it.
Camping gear generally consists of rain jackets, sleeping bags or air beds, camp furniture like cots, chairs and benches, cookware and containers, flashlights/headlights, camping lamps and lanterns, and a variety of other items. Some backpacks even include a small refrigerator or ice box, and there are backpacking tents with double walls and one ceiling. In essence, this type of backpack has all the features of a standard roomy backpack, but packed into a very small package. This makes it ideal for anyone venturing into the wilderness. Some tents, on the other hand, are designed specifically for backpacking and are extremely lightweight and waterproof.
In addition to lightweight backpacking gear, one of the key features is durability. Many times, these backpacks are made of extremely durable materials, such as Denier polyester, nylon, and heavy duty cotton. This durability makes them long-lasting and less likely to wear out on a frequent basis. This durability, however, does come at a cost; it means that the backpack manufacturers make backpacks with high weights in order to meet the high cost of manufacturing them. Most people find that this weight is worth the increased durability.
First Backpacking Trip
But don’t let the cost of backpacking gear keep you from taking a trip to the wilderness! Take advantage of sales and discount offers at many outdoor store retailers. Not only will you get a lower price on the backpacking gear you need, but you’ll find that your gear will hold up much longer than those made of inferior material. This applies particularly well to daypacks, which can last for several days on a single outing. Using a daypack is by far the most important component of your backpacking gear.
Once you have all of your first backpacking gear items, put them together according to your first backpacking trip plan. Don’t buy the least expensive items first, because you won’t really need them. Purchase the most expensive ones as your money will run out soon enough. Put a large variety of items that you will need for at least three days into the same kit. If you only need certain items for a few days of your trip, choose those, too. This way, if you have to purchase something else on your trip, it will be able to go into your new pack.
When your first backpacking trip rolls around, keep the weight light. Pack as lightly as possible using the heaviest equipment you can comfortably carry. Leave items like the stove and drinking water containers at home. You might think these things are indispensable, but you really don’t need them when you are hiking long distances. Also, keep in mind that you’ll probably want to stay hydrated most of the time, so keep a water bottle with you. It’s also a good idea to carry a small container of sunscreen, sunglasses, toilet paper, and other items that you may find useful on your journey.