Backpacking requires more than just a backpack and a good pair of shoes -- it actually takes some prep work and planning. Don't be put off by the extra work, though. The more you do to ensure your safety, the safer and more secure you'll feel when out in the wild.
"If you're going into the mountains, consider joining the American Alpine Club. The AAC provides its members with up to $10,000 of rescue insurance. Also, their library is one of the best resources in the world for finding new places to go hike and climb. They will mail you guide books free of charge for almost any place in the world." - James A. Brown
In addition to your backpack and the clothes you wear on, well, your back, there's certain gear that you should never leave home without. Check these purchases off your list before your big trip:
Even if you're only planning on a short day hike, it's vitally important that you travel with food and water. Plan on packing a little more than you expect to need -- and when it comes to food, look for lightweight, easy-to-prepare, nutrient-dense options. Here are a few suggestions:
When it comes to water, it's important to keep in mind that water itself is heavy and can be taxing to carry around. You may want to invest in a backpack water dispenser with an internal water reservoir, like the Hydrapak Big Sur. If you're hiking with your dog, don't be afraid to make Fido help with the load! There are special hiking packs made especially for dogs, like Ruffwear's Palisades Pack, which includes two, one-liter collapsible hydration bottles.
If you've tried hydration packs and they're not your thing, there are other options available that aren't as bulky or awkward to carry as a traditional water bottle. Look for collapsible, reusable water bottles like the Vapur Anti-Bottle, which can be rolled up and attached to your pack with a carabiner when empty.
Now that you're prepped, well-dressed and sufficiently nourished, you need to have a few key items stored in your pack. You can always add more supplies (like tents, sleeping bags and cookware) if you're planning on a long trip, but be sure to carry these items even on shorter hikes:
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