What to Bring Backpacking?
Most of the items in this first section are mandatory.
- Backpack - A sturdy internal or external frame, 4000 - 6000 cubic inches. Rent or borrow these (do not just jump in and buy if you don't have one already since you should try several out before you should consider buying). Make sure you get a backpack fitted to your size (there are typically three sizes, based on your torso length).
- Sleeping Bag & Ground Pad - This needs to be a mummy style bag, warmth rated at least 20 degrees (this obviously various depending on conditions expected for the trip). This can be rented. Most rental places also provide liners for sleeping bags - that should hopefully dispel any sanitary concerns you might have.
- Eating Utensils - Bowl, mug, spoon, pocketknife. Think light and durable. Lightweight, sturdy, (heat resistant) plastic bowls work well. Make sure the utensils you bring are sturdy. To lighten your load, you may consider bringing a bowl to both eat out of and to drink from. You shouldn't have to buy these since you should find something equivalent around the house.
- Day Pack - A school book bag would do. This is for carrying food, clothe, and water for day hike excursions.
- Whistle - just in case you get lost. This should be Mandatory.
- Water bottles - You need to bring 1-2 quarts of water for most day hikes. Two or three plastic Gatorade water bottles would work.
- Topographic Map and Compass - optional. The trip planner/leader should bring one though.
Clothing (focus on layering)
Inner Layer: to wick moisture away from your body so you stay dry and warm and comfortable
- Underwear - As much as you think you will need. Cotton is suggested for women.
- Long Underwear - a pair of tops and bottoms made of a synthetic material such as polyester (no cotton - because cotton takes a very long time to dry if you accidentally get wet). A pair of sweat pants and shirt could also work for most trips if no heavy rain is expected.
- T-shirts - one for the trip and one clean one for the ride home. Shirts made of synthetic materials such as polyester is preferred over cotton.
- Liner Socks - optional but highly recommended if you are prone to blisters. Thin polyester dress socks can be used as liner socks.
Insulating Layer: to keep you warm
- Socks - Two pairs made of wool or a synthetic material (no cotton). If you need to buy these, thick, inexpensive wool socks would do.
- Pants - one pair, wool or fleece. If you bring cotton sweats, bring 2 pairs in case 1 gets wet.
- Pull-over/Jacket - Wool or fleece is ideal. An old wool sweater works great. If you bring cotton sweat shirts, bring 2. If you bring a jacket, bring 1 that is down or fiber filled or a ski type jacket. Bring a second sweater/sweatshirt if you tend to get cold easily.
- Gloves - to keep your hands warm in evenings.
- Hat - something thick and warm like a beanie hat. The material should be wool or fleece (no cotton). This is Mandatory.
Protective Layer: to keep the elements (such as rain, wind and sun) away
- Hiking Boots - if you are getting new pairs, make sure they are adequately worn in before the start of the trip.
- Camp Shoes - sandals or tennis shoes are great. These are optional, but it's much more comfortable to wear them than hiking boots while you mill about camp.
- Rain Jacket and Pants or a Poncho - the weather is never fully predictable. We need to be prepared rain or shine.
- Sun Hat
- Bandanas - optional but serve multiple purposes.
Bring all of the above and MORE if you are unsure. We can always leave extras at the car. Remember that the weather can change without much warning. The best defense is to bring clothes of various layers to better cope with unexpected weather conditions.
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Toilet Paper - with two zip-lock bags, one to carry the unused and one to carry the used portions.
- Trowels (shovels) - the trip planner/leader should bring a couple.
- Personal Medications - if you have any medical conditions.
- Camera - optional but nice.
- Personal Toiletries - toothbrush, etc.
- Blister Kit - optional. Mole-skins come in handy if you are really prone to blisters.
- Sun Screen - Mandatory.
- Sun Glasses - Mandatory.
- Lip Balm
- Huge plastic trash bags (3) and large zip-lock bags (5 or more) - for water proofing your backpack, clothes, etc. and for bagging food.
- Journal, Book, Pen - optional.
For a three day trip, you should bring food for 2 dinners (best done in groups), three lunches, and three breakfasts. Also bring enough snacks such as crackers and trail mixes for the hikes.
- Hot or cold cereals
- Hot drinks - hot chocolate, tea, etc.
- Fruits (soft fruits like bananas and kiwis that get smashed easily in backpacks should be avoided)
- Energy bars
Lunch & Snacks
- Bagels w/ cheese, peanut butter, jelly
- Granola, trail mix (be creative, such as adding M&M's - which boots your energy; and don't worry about eating too much since we will all be spending a lot of energy on the trails!), nuts
- Snack bars and cookies
- (2) zip-lock bags to carry lunch
Dinner (recommended to be shared in groups)
- Hot or cold pasta with your favorite sauce.
- Rice and chicken.
- Burritos with beans, rice, chicken...and tortilla.
- Hot grains -e.g. Couscous
- Veggie stir-fry
- Dessert - cookies, chocolate, etc.
Never bring glass containers. Cans are OK but heavy. If you bring canned foods, be sure to empty the content into zip-lock bags before we start off on the trails. Canned foods emptied into zip-lock bags keep relatively well (over several days) if kept away from direct sunlight. Freeze dried foods (such as Alpine from REI) are the lightest but they are also expensive.