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Once you figure out where going you have to determine what to bring. I’m breaking this down in two parts: 1.) the BIG stuff 2.) clothing, accessories, and toiletries. Ok, let’s talk about the big stuff! If you are backpacking in the woods then you pretty much need everything! Let’s start with a tent. If its just you and no one else sleeping in your tent bring a one-man tent. Its small and easy to set up. If you like a little of wiggle room bring a two-person tent. Bringing the whole family? Get a family size tent or 2 two-person tents. Think about your gear- do you want it outside under the rain-fly (rain-flys goes over the tent and come out a foot or so to protect you from rain) or are you bringing your gear inside? Before you leave on your trip, set up your tent with sleeping bag and and situate your gear so you know what to expect. This will also give you an oppertunity to set up your tent in a comfortable environment. My boyfriend and I bought this awesome tent from REI (REI Half Dome 2). We wanted to practice setting it up and taking it down before we left on our trip. It took us about 30 minutes to figure out the dang thing! We are so happy we tried it out before leaving because REI’s Half DOme 2 is the EASIEST tent set up. We timed how long it takes to set up and it was easily under 2 minutes. Just sayin!

Next is the sleeping bag or blanket. Take into consideration how hot or cold it is. Sleeping bags have temperature ratings but I personally get REALLY cold. I use a mummy bag (a bag that covers the top of your head) until summer- most people would think I’m crazy but I like to be as comfortable as possible! If its hot a light blanket will do just fine! Now let’s a take a second to take about pillows- if you are backpacking in, don’t bring one. Its just ONE more thing to bring. I keep an empty pillow case in my backpack and stuff if with a sweatshirt. It works just fine! If you have room in you car to bring a pillow I would. The more comfortably you sleep, the better time you will have! If you are sleeping on the ground, you may want a sleeping pad. Colman sleeping pads are self-inflatable and easy to pack. If you don’t bring a pad and have rocky terrain, throw some clothes under your bag for extra padding.

How are you going to eat? Are you bringing a large stove? Or you cooking over an open fire (if regulations are in your favor)? Are you living on protein bars the whole trip? We have a MSR microrocket to cook with. It weighs 2.6 oz, is extremely small, fits perfectly in your backpack, and lets you cook gourmet meals. There are also portable stoves with several burner options. If you are cooking over an open fire, make sure you bring matches or lighter to start the fire. If you have trouble getting a flame to catch, feminine products work great! Some campsites have BBQ set up or you can bring a portable one. Make sure to check out the campsite before oyu go to know what you’re working with! Keep in mind- the more you bring, the more you carry!

Some other extras you may want to bring are camping chairs, tables, and coolers. AGAIN- the more you bring, the more you carry! I like find objects in the woods that act as furniture like a rock for chairs or tables and the river as your own cooler- throw sodas or beverages in a bag and set them in a cold river. One important item we have purchased recently is a water filter. Lugging around gallons of water into the wild can be exhausting so look into a water filter. The MSR MiniWorks EX Water filter allows you to pump water from the river while eliminating bacteria, tastes, and odors. I was weary at first- as I am to anything new in the wild- but once I realized how refreshing and SAFE the water is, this filter is one necessity!

If you are buying big ticket items try signing up for programs to get a cheaper rate. If you sign up with REI, they offer up to a 10% dividend each year and have special sales for REI members. Always shop around before making your purchase and check warrenty and refunds.

Happy packing!!

This is what my backpack looks like- clothes, toiletries, and food inside. Sleeping bag, sleeping pad, boots, and lantern on the outside

REI Half Dome 2 tent- the easiest tent set up in the world!

MSR Microrocket- cooks everything and small enough to pack anywhere!

MSR MiniWorks Water Filter

Pumping water directly from stream- how easy is that?!!