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The Gear You Need to Start Backpacking

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Hiking and backpacking are some of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors. Our beginner's guide shows you what type of gear you'll need for everything from a short day hike to a multi-day backpacking trip

Video Transcript

I'm Bryan Rogala with Outside, and today we're going to talk about the gear you need to get started hiking and backpacking. Hiking is a great way to enjoy the outdoors. Whether you're looking for a short trail to do before work or to get out on a multi-day backpacking trip, it's very easy to get into the sport. If you want to try hiking without going all-in for a full backpacking setup, you'll just need a few pieces of gear to make your life easier. 


First, you're going to want to look for a pair of light hiking boots, like the Salomon Eskape. If you live in a really wet place, you're going to want something fully waterproof, but otherwise, you can skip it. You're not going to need a full-on hiking boot if you're not going to be carrying that much weight in your pack. 


As for a pack, look for something in the thirty liter range, like the Marmot Gunnison. Thirty liters is the sweet spot for a day hike because it has just enough room for everything you're going to need during the day like food, water, and an extra layer. It's also always a good idea to carry a multitool like the Leatherman Wave and a first aid or survival kit with you on the trail just in case something keeps you out longer than expected. 


If you want to try and overnight or multi-day trip you're going to need some backpacking specific gear. To start, you'll need a larger pack like the Kelty Redstone. Sixty to seventy liters is the perfect size for a weekend trip. You can even make it work on a multi-day trip if you pack light enough. You'll want a backpacking specific boot too like Merrell Capra. Backpacking boots are almost always Gore-Tex, and they're built to support heavier loads than a light hiker can. Just be sure to a get a boot that fits right because nothing ends a backpacking trip faster than sore feet. 


The most important thing in backpacking is that you don't carry too much weight. You want your gear to be as light as possible. A tent like the Marmot Limelight is a great option. It sleeps three people. It's a little heavy at six pounds, but it's a great choice if you're just getting started. And a sleeping pad like the Field and Stream Vista is perfect. It's light and just enough to keep you comfortable. 


You'll also want a good headlamp like the Princeton Tec Byte and a lightweight cooking setup like Jetboil Zip. Jetboil is a really efficient solution for boiling water and preparing freeze dried meals out on the trail. Down sleeping bags like the Kelty Cosmic Down have a higher warmth to weight ratio than a synthetic bag. So it's your best choice for a backpacking trip.  


No matter how far you're hiking, the bottom line is to make sure your boots and pack fit well and that you don't carry too much weight. So whether you plan on just spending a day on the trail or getting out for an entire weekend, getting the right gear can make all the difference. 

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