Cold nights, hot days—backpacking is hard work. Finding water, carrying all of your necessities, hiking with your possessions, having the right gear makes the entire endeavor more comfortable and easier to do.
These are some of the most fully functional, multi-tasking pieces of camping gear and equipment to take with you on an extensive hike or camping trip. Check some of them out and share your favorites with your friends—make a week of it.
1. Osprey Argon 85 Backpack
One of the most important pieces you need when planning a long hike is a good backpack that is big enough for all of your gear, but lightweight enough carry comfortably for long periods. With top and side loading capacity, this exciting bag allows you to fit the most equipment and clothing for the size, the weight, and the price.
It features six pouches and a large sleeping bag compartment. The weight balance, hip belt, and lumbar pad ensures that it can be carried easily for long periods of time. It also provides a pouch for a hydration bladder for ultimate comfort. $310, amazon.com
2. Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 Tent
This is great two-person tent has plenty of headroom and adequate access for gear. It is freestanding and strong enough to withstand fairly heavy wind, as well as comfortable for three seasons.
The best thing about it is that it weighs only 3 1/2 pounds, and folds to a small, easily carried size, making it great for backpacking. $400, amazon.com
3. Thermorest NeoAir All Season Sleep Pad
A good night’s sleep is essential to maintain morale on a long trip. This sleeping pad packs to the size of a Nagolene and weighs a mere 19 ounces. The comfortable, regular sized pad is compact and light.
Its revolutionary, Triangle Core Matrix provides a relative surface that reduces radiant and convection heat loss. This makes it perfect for use during all four seasons. Also, with its rugged construction and manual inflation it can be used in the most remote camping locations. $150, amazon.com
4. PackTowel Ultralite XL
This is perhaps the last camping towel you will ever need. It is made of super-absorbent, lightweight material.
One of the best aspects of this towel is that it wrings out easily–due to it thinness–and dries quickly. This ensures that it is unlikely to smell after its first use like most towels do. $32, amazon.com
5. Aektiv Outdoor Mummy Style Sleeping Bag
What good is a sleeping bag if it isn’t comfortable enough to sleep in? This model has a breathable, waterproof exterior to keep its occupant comfortable and dry. It has extra room at the bottom for restless feet and extra padding at the top for increased warmth and comfort.
At a super thin and lightweight three pound and five ounces, it folds to a size small enough to easily fit into most backpacks. Also, there is an even warmer model that is great for temperatures down to 15-degrees F for truly arctic camping. $109, amazon.com
6. Cocoon Ultralight Air-Core Pillow
This pillow provides 100-percent of your head resting needs. The exterior is made of a 100-percent nylon front and a 100-percent polyester micro fiber back. The interior consists of 100-percent polyester filling and a 100-percent PVC bladder.
This pillow inflates as thick as a side-sleeper prefers. It weighs only four ounces when deflated and folds to a very compact size for easy packing. $21, amazon.com
7. Shimano Sedona 400FB Reel/ 8-Foot Telescoping Hurricane Fishing Rod
For a versatile combination that is lightweight, compact, and yet has adequate extension, this is the obvious choice.
The strong, smooth reel is easy to use and works well even with heavy lines. The rod weighs 9 ounces and supports up to 30 pounds. It is 22-inches and can extend to 8-feet. With this fishing necessity, you get the best of all worlds. $25, mubcreek.com
8. Leatherman Wave Multitool with Leather/Nylon Shealth
A good multitool is every camper and hiker’s best friend. Naturally compact, they perform a multitude of functions and are perfect for everyday carry in your car or even a purse.
With a construction of 100-percent stainless steel, it features 17 separate tools. These include knives, pliers, wire cutters, files, bits and drivers, a bottle opener to name a few. As versatile and handy as these are, they also make great gifts. $87, amazon.com
9. Platypus GravityWorks Water Filter
Anywhere you are, if there is a source of technically “fresh” water–as opposed to salt water–no matter how dirty it is, you can still drink safe, pure water.
You simply place about 4-liters of water from the suspicious source into the first bladder. Hang it in a tree or any other elevated surface. The water filters down through the tube into the second bladder in around three-minutes. This provides you with the clean water you need to survive. $120, amazon.com
10. Black Diamond Apollo Lantern
Sometimes you want a consistent source of illumination at your campsite. Perfect as an interior or exterior light source, this lantern has adjustable legs to be free-standing but it can also be hung.
With 4 AA batteries, you can run the lamp on high for 15 hours or on low for 60 hours brightening a diameter of up to 45 feet. When collapsed, it becomes as small as a 12-ounce can of soda. $50, amazon.com
11. Suunto M-3D Leader Compass
A compass is a typical piece of camping gear and a good option to pack, especially when venturing where GPS can not follow. Some are definitely more user-friendly than others.
The Suunto features a dial, rulers, and scales that are clearer than many other brands. It also provides a magnifying glass and an adjustable declination scale for accuracy. This accessory is better to have when you don’t need it rather than to need it when you don’t have it. $41, amazon.com
12. Platypus Bigzip SL 1.8-Liters Hydration Pouch
Whether backpacking through the wilderness or hiking up a mountain, it is important to remain hydrated. Rather than carry bottled water, which can get spilled–or at least take a few extra moments when your attention should be focused on the journey ahead–consider packing a hydration pouch.
The Platypus hydration pouch goes conveniently into your pack with the hose clipped to your chest strap. This places the mouthpiece near your face, so all you have to do is turn your head and sip–effortless and convenient. $20-50, amazon.com
13. GSI Outdoors Cathole Trowel
Stepping on the waste of wildlife is gross; stepping on human waste is worse. Although it is a natural function of the human body–and, just because you’re in the woods doesn’t mean that need stops–it shouldn’t just be left out in the open.
This polycarbonate trowel is made from recycled material to keep in line with the “leave no trace” philosophy. It features serrated edges for easier digging and weighs only 3 ounces. Also, the “Leave no Trace” guidelines are listed on the back for easy reference. $11, amazon.com
14. MSR DragonFly Stove
A liquid gas stove is the most versatile option for cooking on the trail. It is capable of burning kerosene, white gas, and unleaded, which is good because there is little less discouraging than discovering that the stove you bought is incompatible with the fuel you brought.
It’s small and weighs less than a pound. It’s rugged, field repairable, and comes with a windscreen for safety and cooking in all conditions. The best quality is that it is adjustable to cook at a high temperature for boiling water, as well as a low temperature for simmering and slow cooking. $120, amazon.com
15. Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Fine Edge Knife
A good multitool will only get you so far out in the wilderness. It is always advisable to also pack a good knife and this little blade has it all.
It sports a 4.8-inch high-carbon, stainless-steel drop-point blade and has a rubberized handle with a strong base. Additional features include a hard rubber military-grade sheath, a diamond coated knife sharpener, and an emergency whistle. It even has a guide detailing the priorities of survival. $28, amazon.com
16. REI Backpacker Multiday First Aid Kit
“Be Prepared” is the motto of the Boy Scouts of America, and when it comes to safety, you can never be too prepared. Although–with a bit of planning and effort–you can assemble your own, this is more organized and has pretty much everything you need in one place.
It contains assorted bandages, gloves, tweezers, moleskin, some over the counter medication, plus enough additional space for you to personalize and add your own necessary items. These are so handy that it is a good idea to keep one in the house, one in the car, and one with your camping gear. They also make great gifts. $37, REI.com
17. UCO Stormproof Match Kit
It’s windy. It’s rainy. You really want a fire, but your normally handy lighter just won’t work in these conditions. That’s when stormproof matches come to the rescue.
These matches burn for 15 seconds and come in a pack of 25 with three strikers. They light rain or shine without fail. $7, REI.com
18. REI Campware Nonstick Cookset
When hiking or camping you could take your kitchen cookware, but why would you? It is typically too heavy to tote for long distances and you probably don’t want your good pans getting dinged on the trail.
This set of nonstick cookware weighs under two pounds. It provides a 3.2-liter pot with an 8.9-inch diameter lid and a 2.2-liter pot with a 7.5-inch diameter lid. The two lids also function as frying pans, so you get more function for the weight. The set includes a universal pot gripper, a scrubby cloth, and a mesh carrying bag for easy transportation. $70, REI.com
19. GSI Outdoors H2Jo Percolator Coffee Maker
Although to some people, coffee on the trail is more of a luxury, to others it is a morning lifesaver. Even a luxury has its place when a few creature comforts can provide the morale boost to continue a long hike.
Made of stainless steel and polyethylene, this percolator is lightweight and small. You twist it onto a wide-mouthed bottle, add the coffee grounds, and shake it. The filter keeps the grounds out of the water and provides the pick-me-up you are seeking. $14.50, amazon.com
20. Bear Vault Bear Resistant Food Canister
Most camping trips and hikes don’t require this item. However, if you are setting up camp in a wilderness where bears are indigenous, you will definitely want to use one of these. Also, some national parks and forests require that you keep your food and other “good” smelling belongings secured.
This clear canister is lightweight and has a capacity of 700 cubic-inches. Although it’s bear-proof, it is easy for humans to open. Just stable the base and give the lid a quick twist to open it. $60-70, amazon.com
21. Nalgene Water Bottle
Rather than lugging a bunch of commercially produced plastic-bottled waters–which leech chemicals from the plastic into water when warm–bring one fantastic bottle for all of your beverages.
This model has easy to read gradations for measuring. It accommodates temperatures of -40 to 212-degrees F. This works great with the GravityWorks Water Filter, as well as the H2Jo Percolator. The wide opening makes it a perfect fit for the filter, as well as easier to clean. Of course, it is also dishwasher safe for use at home. $11, amazon.com
22. JOOS Orange Solar Charger
Using solar energy to power your electrical equipment is a good option when you are camping and regular power sources aren’t readily available. Although it charges most quickly with direct sunlight, it can also be charged with indirect light, and even at home from any USB power source.
It is designed to charge all personal devices, such as cell phones; and the internal battery holds a charge for years…even if it gets dropped in water. Although this is a handy and environmentally friendly unit, it isn’t terribly lightweight. This piece of camping gear might be best kept at the campsite rather than carried on backpacking trips. $150, amazon.com
23. Mazella Silkweight Windstopper Ultra Touchtip Gloves
Whether to protect your hands from the cold or to keep them from sustaining injuries when cutting firewood or hiking through briars, you should pack gloves when camping or backpacking. It is essential, though, that you have ones that are more of a help than a hinderance.
The REI silkweight gloves fit the bill. Slightly insulated, they protect your hands from getting wet or cold, as long as you aren’t in arctic temperatures. They are flexible enough and have enough grip to work in without losing dexterity and they can be cinched to keep water or snow from slipping entering. $35, REI.com
24. Asolo TPS 520 GV Hiking Boots
When hiking, perhaps the most important thing to keeping your morale high is good, sturdy, comfortable footwear. Wet feet can cause discomfort and even disease. Footwear that rubs is bound to cause blisters within a few miles.
25. Wigwam Hiking/Outdoor Pro Socks
Along with sturdy boots, good socks are a hiking must-have. Made from an olefin/acrylic blend, these socks keep you on the trail–in comfort–longer.
They wick the moisture from your hard-working feet to keep them feeling dry for longer. They don’t chafe or cause blisters. Plus, they don’t slide down like lesser options. $27-30, amazon.com
26. REI Sahara Convertible Pants
In some locations, the weather and temperatures fluctuate throughout the day. If you are planning an all day–or several day–hike, convertible pants may be the most convenient way to go. In the morning, the temperatures may be cool and require long pants. As the sun rises overhead, the temperatures can soar and you may wish you had shorts. With convertible pants, this is easily resolved. Just unzip the lower portion and resume your hike in shorts. When the evening falls and the temperature dips, just zip them back on.
The Endeavor options are a good choice for several reasons. The zippers are color-coded making zipping them back together easy. They are lightweight and wide-legged so you don’t have to take off your boots to remove the pant-legs. Water resistant, they dry quickly and breathe easily. $65, REI.com
27. Mountain Hardwear Dome Perignon Hat
In cooler temperatures, it is almost as important to protect your head as it is your feet to avoid losing precious body heat. This revolutionary design is thin and lightweight, so it is easy to pack in a small space, but it gets the job done in sub-zero temperatures.
Made of Gore-Tex and fleece, it is super warm and comfortable. It is both windproof and breathable and has full ear coverage. It also comes in five colors to match your different outfits.$27-36, amazon.com
28. Smart wool Base-Layer
Experts suggest that the best way to ensure that you stay warm is to dress in layers. This allows you to add and remove clothing as needed in order to stay comfortable. The wrong choice in a base-layer, however, can cause you to sweat and then chill, as the layer closest to your body remains wet.
Merino wool is a good pick because it is lightweight, making it comfortable under other clothes. It keeps you warm even when it is wet, but it dries quickly so it doesn’t become odiferous like cotton clothing does. $35-37, smartwool.com
29. The North Face Venture Rain Jacket
For long treks in questionable or unpredictable weather, a good rain jacket could be a lifesaver. Even if you don’t end up using it, it’s a smart decision to pack one just in case and this is a serious rain jacket.
As good looking as it is functional, it is lightweight and breathable. It features two large interior mesh pockets, as well as the expected hand pockets. Also, the adjustable hood is enormous for ultimate versatility. $99, REI.com
30. Smartwool SmartLoft Divide Full Zip Insulating Layer
This is a great additional layer to wear over the Smartwool Base-Layer on cool days. As revolutionary as the underclothing, this is also fairly lightweight for long-term comfort.
The quilted front acts as an insulated vest for increased warmth and wind resistance. It features the regular hand pockets and two large interior pockets with enough space to keep your hands free while hiking. $200, backcountry.com
31. Revo Headway Sunglasses
Wearing sunglasses while hiking minimizes the glare when you’re walking toward the sun, reducing the likelihood of debilitating–or at least inconvenient–headaches. It is even more important where the glare is reflected and intensified by water or snow.
These particular shades offer superb polarization. They also feature a buoy with a snap-in leash in case they fall in water. They’ll bob to the surface and become–hopefully–easily retrievable. $170, amazon.com
32. Gerber Sport Axe II
Although this isn’t necessary for a typical day-hike, it is extremely helpful for extended backpacking trips and camping where pre-cut firewood isn’t readily available.
Working faster and with less effort than a saw, this axe keeps a sharp blade. It’s lightweight due to its hollow handle, making it easy to tote and the plastic sheath makes it safe to pack. $42, amazon.com
33. Princeton Tec Quad Headlamp and Mini Maglite
Everyone should own at least one flashlight; but when you are camping or backpacking, you should pack more than one. You don’t want to be in the dark and discover that your only source of illumination has failed.
The headlamp has three levels of brightness with an additional strobe for emergencies. It’s also waterproof. For a backup, choose the Maglite mini flashlight. It has two settings and its small size and light weight make it a great extra light for emergencies. $26, amazon.com
Make sure to wear sturdy breathable footwear and adequate layers. Remember to plan for all contingencies and bring the necessary camping gear, but keep your pack light enough to carry. As you can see, with the proper backpacking gear even the least vetted hiker can make a lengthy, complicated trip. Please share with any friends or family members who camp or hike regularly, or even those who merely have interest in survival supplies for the impending zombie apocalypse.