What kind of tent, sleeping bag, and pack you need for a multi-day trip can be difficult. We’ve put together a comprehensive look at how to find the gear you need.


Theres nothing worse than being out on a hike and the temperature drops below 50 degrees as you shiver in your down sleeping bag and it becomes damp from morning fog and you find yourself freezing, miserable and a restless night. If you had known that down and water do not mix you could have planned things a bit better allowing you to escape your mild hypothermia. In the backcountry it is extremely important to plan and to prepare yourself for different situations. Preparing yourself and your backpack for various adventure is a must. We look at your outdoor gear and backpacking essentials and advise you in what gear you can consider and how to scrutinise them.


Consider what conditions you are hiking into and where you may be setup your tent. Will there be a likelihood of rain, wind or damp found. Will you need a “three season” or “four season” tent? A four season tent is constructed for all seasons and is durable enough to withstand heavy winds or rain and will be a heavier option. Depending on the design you may be able to remove the rainfly in warmer summer weather allowing you to reduce the weight you carry during cloudless summer nights. Make sure to practice setting up your tent before your hike; there is nothing worse than trying to setup a tent in the dark without knowing what goes where.


Headlamps are the best for the backcountry. They are small and lightweight, hands free and have a long battery life.

Some headlamps have some kind of strobe mode. good in an emergency. You save power when in store mode so always take this into consideration when wanting to save battery life. Some flashlights have a ver strong beam and are extremely useful in an emergency situation. Always remember to carry extra batteries or have a solar panel affixed to your backpack.


Water bottles or hydration reservoirs | Water filter or other treatment system.

Our bodies are made up of around 66% water. Fluid and electrolyte balance is a major function of homeostasis, which is our bodies ability to maintain its internal environment as it adjusts to challenges and stress. To the extent our bodies are able to adjust to these challenges the state of good health is maintained. Proper hydration is important for cellular metabolism, blood flow and therefore physical and athletic performance.


Matches or lighter | Waterproof container | Fire starter

There are a number of options when it comes to fire.  Two of these, waterproof matches and a keychain fire striker, are considered to be an indispensable part of any gear as they are light, small, and reliable.  You can also consider tinder kits, emergency flares, windproof lighters.


Extra day’s supply of food


Knife or multi-tool | Repair kits for stove, mattress; duct tape strips


First-aid kit

Always look to having a pre-assembled first aid kit, it takes the bother out of creating your own first aid kit. Make sure to have plasters for blisters, bandages, adhesive tape, bandage disinfecting ointment, pain killers, pen and paper.

Remember the length of your trip and the number of people guides you in what contents you will need.


Map | Compass | GPS | Altimeter

You should always have a topographical map when ever you are on a trip regardless of how short  or clear the path or trail. A compass and an understanding of map-reading is important when traveling in the backcountry. Having a high-tech GPS should always be backed up with a compass. Weighing very little and does not rely on batteries and would be a life saver if anything should happen to your GPS. For example a compass with a sighting mirror can be useful if you need to flash sunlight to a helicopter if you ever got into difficulty.

Consider an altimeter as an extra, as it uses a barometric sensor for air pressure and gives a good estimate of your elevation. This helps provide you with trading your progress and helps you location your position on  a map.


Sunscreen | Lip balm | Sunglasses

Sunglasses are an important part of your gear. If you are planning a trip in snow or ice you will have to consider purchasing extra-dark glacier glasses. A good standard is to look for sunglasses that block 100% of ultraviolet light (UVA & UVB) UVB rays are those that burn your skin and have been proven to be the cause of possible cataracts.

Choose your sunscreen carefully. Experts say it is safer to us (SPF) a minimum of 15 to SPF 30 for extended outdoor trips. Also look for creams that block UVA and UVB rays. If you take into consideration the time of the day and perspiration then you may have to apply your sunscreen every two hours on a hot day and alway look for SPF-rated lip balm to give that added protection form the sun.

You can purchase lightweight sun protection synthetic clothing. These come with a ultraviolet protection factor (UPF). Always cream you noise, neck and face.


Once cotton gets wet it can take your life in the backcountry. Once it gets wet, it stays wet and can make things very difficult, even lowering your body temperature to levels that can kill. We recommend wool or synthetic base layers. Wool gives excellent warmth to weight ratio and will keep body odours in check and synthetic layers are lightweight and durable. In deciding what you need will depend on what your hiking conditions are going to be. Wearing layers is the ideal way of controlling body temperatures. As we consider what gear is best for you, you may wish to read our information on How to read the weather, backpacking and hiking footwear.



The wet or humid weather is a major factor when choosing your sleeping bag. Synthetic sleeping bags are extremely good at helping to protect against moisture and remain warm and comfortable. A quality down sleeping bag will last you years, they are durable and can be expensive. With new technologies, water-resistant Goose down keep their “loft” (warmth) in the wet.


The best Sleeping Pads are those that work in tandem with your sleeping bag so it is better to buy them at the same time and some come fixed together as one unit. The main reason for a sleeping pad is that the ground will suck all the heat from your body, a good sleeping pad will not only work as a buffer between you and the ground; it will reflect the heat back. Consider more than one layer of installation if you are traveling to more colder environments.


Backpack | Daypack or summit pack | Backpack Cover

Always choose a backpack with a rain cover to safe guard your gear against rain and humidity in damper environments. For warmer climates always consider a suspension system with cooling qualities, that allows space between your back and the backpack. Your local outdoor gear retailers will be able to best advise you regarding style and fit for your needs. Test the fit of a number of backpacks before you make up your mind to purchase.

  • Daypack or summit pack
  • Pack cover
  • Tent, tarp or bivy sack
  • Footprint (if desired)
  • Stuff sack or compression sack
  • Whistle (plus signalling mirror)
  • Multifunction watch or Smart watch
  • Trekking poles
  • Ice axe
  • Food
  • Energy food (trail mix, bars, gels)
  • Energy beverages or drink mixes
  • Cooking Stove
  • Fuel
  • Cook-set (with pot handle)
  • Plate or bowls
  • Spork or Utensils
  • Cup
  • Bear canister (or bags for hanging food)
  • Nylon cord (50′ for hanging food)
  • Water treatment

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