Have you ever found yourself out in the backcountry and realized you forgot to pack in one of the essentials? God forbid it be toilet paper… Nobody enjoys using sticks and leaves. But even if that were the case, at least you’ve still got your fleece layer to keep you toasty warm at night, right? Right?? Well you’re just in luck! Today we’ve compiled a list of ten essential items to always pack with you on your next backpacking trip, as well as a few tips and tricks from our backcountry guides on how to make the best of your adventure.

So without further or do, lets get into it!

1 – First Aid! For obvious reasons, this should be the first essential item on anyone’s list. When you’re out in the backcountry, you won’t find any hospitals around, unless you’re trekking through a concrete jungle. It’s vital to always have emergency first aid and basic medications with you. This should go without saying, but you should also have basic knowledge of first aid. If you don’t already, learn how to splint a broken/sprained appendage, stop bleeding, wound care, and how to identify heat exhaustion, dehydration, and other critical medical emergencies. Our adventure guides all undergo a sixteen hour, hands on wilderness first aid class. Stay educated!

2 – Water filtration device!  This almost made it to the top, but we figured this was an obvious one. Water! Here at camp, we say “Hydrate or Diedrate” and we mean it! Water is crucial for survival and the overall function of your body. Put plain and simple, without water for prolonged periods you will cease to exist, alive that is. While it’s important to always plan ahead and know what your water source will be in the backcountry, you also need to consider how you will purify it. You could boil it, but you’ll need fuel and fire to be able to do that.  That’s where water filters come in! Though a handheld or gravity fed water filtration system can be a bit pricy, we highly recommend investing in one! They’re convenient, come in all shapes and sizes, and will give you the peace of mind knowing you won’t contract giardia.

3 – inReach device! What is an inReach? An inReach is a portable GPS device that is capable of two-way communication where cellphones won’t be able to get service. It uses global satellite coverage to send out messages to another person. You can tell people where you are, check weather, access maps, and in case of an emergency, the inReach allows you to get in direct contact with first responders and send your location. Though these handy little devices can get pretty pricy, we cannot stress how important it is. As a professional adventure company, we carry one on every trip. Did we mention they make cool beeping sounds when you press the buttons?

4 – Wool or fleece base layers! (This includes socks too!) You ever notice that as soon as the sun goes down, the wind seems to chill you through your cotton top? When cotton is wet (Sweat, water, tears, you name it), it cools down rapidly and fights against your body when it’s trying to maintain it’s body temperature. Fleece and wool on the other hand do not cool when they’ve absorbed moisture, rather they insulate your body heat, thus aiding your body in staying warm. Science! So cool! So make sure to pack a cozy fleece/wool zip up and some thick socks for the late night chill. Since we’re on the topic of warmth, don’t forget, fire is your friend! Carrying matches and or a lighter will be your favorite tool for fire starting. Make sure you’ve got your backcountry fire permit!

5 – Rain poncho! (Or even a simple trash bag will do.) Staying warm is one thing, but staying dry is just as important. Rain shell jackets are wonderful, but if you’re on a tight budget or have limited space in your pack, this might not be your first option. May I introduce you to the tried and true, disposable rain poncho! Packaged perfectly to fit in your back pocket, incredibly lightweight and cheap, and yes it’s reusable. Simply wearing one over your person will keep you mostly dry from any passing storm. We also recommend packing a few large trash bags that fit over your backpack and to stuff your sleeping bag and clothes in. This will keep everything nice and dry. Remember, wet equals cold, and dry equals warm.

6 – Head lamp! It’s rather important to see where you’re walking when the 3am urge to pee wakes you from your slumber. Nobody wants to stumble groggily into a tree, boulder, or a bear, or even worse, trip over one of your sleeping buddies. One cranky half-asleep backpacker is enough for the night.  Headlamps are cheap, hands free, and take up virtually no space in your pack. Bring one, trust us. No, you’re phone flashlight won’t be as convenient as you think.

7 – Sun Protection! We cannot stress this enough! Getting burnt to a crisp in the backcountry seems to be one of the most common minor inconveniences that happens out there. Having a long sleeve sun shirt, a hat, and a bottle of sunscreen goes a long way in making your adventure just a little bit less crispy. Our adventure guides highly recommend bringing a pair of trusted sunglasses too. Especially if you have sensitive eyes. The backcountry sun is bright and beautiful! Enjoy it to the fullest, without turning into a baked lobster.

8 – Extra clothes! We recommend bringing extra clothes, but not TOO many extra clothes. Here’s some advice from our backcountry guides: You only need two pairs of clothes if you boil it down.  Have a pair of dry and wet clothes. Keep your dry clothes dry, and your wet pair for day use and splashing around. If there’s anything to pack extra of, it’s socks! Your feet will thank you. It’s up to you to decide how may pairs of underwear you’ll need.

9 – Snacks! Although food and snacks are a no brainer, it’s easy to underestimate how much food you’ll need out there. Most people aren’t used to carrying a heavy pack and hiking multiple miles a day. When you exert your body, you burn more calories. Our guides all recommend packing extra trail snacks to keep your energy and mood up throughout the day. Plus who doesn’t like a little snack break every now and then? Dried fruits like mangos, trail mix, granola bars, and fresh oranges are a few of our camp favorites.

10 – Basecamp shoes! Lastly, for a little creature comfort, we couldn’t leave out comfy footwear! While we all claim our favorite hiking boots are comfortable and never give us any issues, wearing any kind of  boot for prolonged periods can result in blisters or hotspots. A pair of slip on clogs or sandals are a game changer when you get to basecamp. Nobody wants to take their sweaty boots off only to put them back on again. Let them dogs breathe! Our guides favor the three S’s for cozy feet. Slippers, slides, and sandals.

So, are you all packed and ready? We hope these ten packing tips helped you prepare for your next backpacking trip. Now get out there and adventure! Explore this great big world God has created for us to roam. Happy trekking!