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Choosing the Backpacking Equipment for Your Needs

Aug 17, 2007
Shopping for backpacking equipment can be a lot of fun. Some of the gadgets and gear use technology that resembles space-aged objects. Other items you notice on store shelves may give you ideas for other uses they could have on tasks around the house.

Face it; there are hours of entertainment to be had at a sports equipment store. The important things to remember when you're out shopping for backpacking equipment is that the gear you choose, no matter how cool it looks, needs to be chosen based on how well it will help you survive and how much it weighs.

It doesn't matter if you'll be backpacking in Mexico or Europe; you're going to need basic survival gear. Matches, a knife, a compass, a first aid kit, water, a whistle, and food are survival backpacking equipment that you need to carry at all times.

You can supplement your basics with a flashlight, a map, fire starter, a repair kit, and sunglasses, as well as a bottle of sunscreen. These small items can mean the difference between life and death if something happens to go wrong during any of your backpacking tours.

Another item of backpacking equipment that is very important is, of course, your backpack. There are a wide variety of choices available, but be sure to choose a backpack that fits your needs. Buying one that is bigger than what you require or has more zippers and pockets than actual storage space is a mistake.

You can choose a good day pack for some hours of trail backpacking or you can buy mammoth-sized packs with internal frames that support heavy loads and carry a ton of stuff, but pick the best size for the type of expedition you plan on taking.

You can choose from top-loading backpacks or panel-loading backpacks. The advantage to top-loading backpacks is that they can support and contain a lot of items. The huge disadvantage is that you'll have to unpack everything to get that tiny piece of equipment at the bottom. Panel-loading backpacks allow you to have easier access but they have a tendency to let rain in through the zippers.

When choosing a backpack, select one that has proper support and padding in all the right places. Shoulder supports need to handle 40% of the total weight inside the backpack, so make sure construction is strong.

Also, make sure the fabric is tough because your backpacking equipment is going to suffer plenty of abuse. Pull on seams hard and try to expose stitches. It should be tough to see them at best. Check to see whether inside seams are covered with fabric to help keep rainwater from seeping in.

For other types of backpacking equipment such as sleeping bags, collapsible stoves, boots, and other things, try to narrow down what kind of backpacking trip you'll be going on.

Are you going on a tour or just a weekend hike? Does your backpacking equipment need to be able to support a heavy load or are you looking to do some light trail backpacking instead? Will you be skiing or hiking in the mountains?

Will you be camping or just going out for the day? Looking at what you want to accomplish on your backpacking trip and the type of activities you'll be doing is important for selecting the rest of your backpacking equipment.
About the Author
Learn to love the journey and your choice of backpacking equipment from Mike Selvon's backpacking portal, and leave a comment at our backpacking blog.
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