This guide and gear list are based on two individuals hiking in late summer/early fall in moderate, non-technical terrain. Tents, sleeping mats, and X-Pots have all been included to the list of advancements.
Of course, it’s hard to make gear recommendations that will work for everyone: climatic conditions and geographical topography vary by location, people’s comfort levels vary, and you probably already have some gear. As a result, the following is a broad guidance.
What to bring:
1. There isn’t as much as you imagine.
It’s all too easy to get caught up in the trap of acquiring a 5000 cu in / 80 litre rucksack and cramming it with items until it’s completely filled. It’s a lot more difficult to carry that rucksack after that…
2. A tent
Your tent goes on the inside of your bag, away from sharp items. Strap the tent poles to the exterior of the pack’s compression straps, then place the canopy inside the pack in a Lightweight Dry Sack. We’re occasionally asked about compression sacks for tents — a tent canopy won’t compress more than 10%, thus the weight and cost of a compression sack are difficult to justify.
There are dozens of tent types on the market, as well as hundreds of different opinions on which one is the finest. If you don’t already possess a tent, think how easy it would be to erect one in inclement weather, how well it would keep out the rain, how well you could ventilate the inner tent, and where you’d put damp stuff when you’re looking at them in the shop.
Conversations about tents are likely to revolve on two simple questions: ‘How much does it weigh?’ and ‘How much does it cost?’ Useful properties, such as ease of pitch, weatherproofness, inside temperature, or (most importantly) usable headroom/space, are sometimes missed as a result of this rather restricted line of reasoning. These features of tent design are referred to as ‘livability’ by the Ask Baz team.
The new Alto and Telos tents from Sea to Summit get top marks in this category. A decent hiking tent will have a floor with a hydrostatic head of at least 2500mm. In addition to livability, inquire how waterproof (the technical term is ‘hydrostatic head’) the floor and rain fly are — this is an incredibly crucial aspect if you will be camping in rainy weather.
Finding a position that will give some cover from prevailing winds and is level and well-drained might be the difference between a terrible, damp night with the tent flapping in the wind and a nice night’s sleep. Check read our blog post on “how to pick a decent campground.”
3. A sleeping bag and a mat to sleep on
The same goes for your sleeping bag: it belongs inside your pack, out of the way. The eVac Dry Sack is my favourite sack for packing a sleeping bag since it keeps my bag dry, is light, and best of all, once I’ve packed my sleeping bag inside it, I sit on it and the extra air just squeezes out. The oval form allows for a nice flat box that’s easy to pack. If you already possess a cumbersome sleeping bag, it’s well worth the money to upgrade to a lighter, more compressed model — your bag shouldn’t take up more than 8 litres before compression for Summer/early Fall use. If you’re truly short on space, a compression sack is a must-have.
There are also a plethora of sleeping bags on the market, as well as a plethora of opinions on which is the ‘best.’ If I may add my two cents, be suspicious of temperature “ratings” — ask if the bag has been rated using the EN Norm, and if it has, double-check that you understand how this rating method relates to you. Female sleepers (or male end-users who sleep a little colder”) should use the ‘Comfort’ rating as a reference, while male sleepers (or male end-users who sleep a little colder) should use the ‘Lower’ rating as a guide.
Check that the sleeping bag you’re considering fits you without squeezing the insulation around your knees and feet, and pay attention to features like draught tubes and hoods, which are areas where manufacturers save money but where warmth ‘leaks out’ of a sleeping bag. Make sure they’re both the right size and shape to retain the heat in. These design flaws will not show up in the EN Rating since the mannequin used in the EN test does not move – but they will in the real world.
It’s crucial to conceive of your sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and liner as a’sleep system’ before moving on to sleeping pads. We get a lot of comments on the site about people becoming chilly despite having a supposedly warm sleeping bag, and it turns out that the sleeping pad was inadequately insulated. Here’s how to make a sleeping system comprised of liners, sleeping bags, and mats.
Consider comfort, weight, and insulation while choosing a sleeping pad: a pad’s insulative ability is indicated as a ‘R’ Value. Fortunately, starting of January 2020, all sleeping pad manufacturers must comply with the ASTM Standard for R-Value testing. However, a measured R-Value is just half of the storey; you can learn more about the physics of sleeping pad insulation here. Understanding what happens within air-filled sleeping pads will help you pick a pad that will keep you warm.
The liner is the last component of a sleep system, such as the Reactor Liner – for summer/early fall camping, the base model Reactor should enough. The Reactor, which is about the size of a big coffee mug and weighs less than 9 ozs / 270g, will offer a few degrees of warmth that the bag maker may have overlooked.
Pack some of your clothes in a soft bag that you can stuff with clothes at night for a pillow, or pamper yourself with an Aeros Ultralight Pillow.
4. Cooking, eating, and cleaning equipment
Maintain a straightforward approach. It’s a terrific opportunity to learn about the benefits of single-pot cooking if you haven’t before. Simpler meals take less time to prepare, which saves energy (some contemporary stove/pot systems have more efficient burners and heat-transfer technologies, but these can be costly). I never leave house without my X-Bowl and X-Mug, which work together to create a multipurpose cutting board, measuring cup, pouring bowl, and side bowl system.
I just fold pot, bowl, and cup together and put them into my first day’s Ziploc®-packed rations since the invention of the X-Pot/Kettle. When I cook, the broad-based aluminium X-Pot Kettle is considerably superior than my previous titanium solo pot for simmering and stirring. I’ve never felt the need for cutlery other than a spork and a knife. The X-Brew Coffee Dripper is the only other thing in my tent kitchen. It fits easily into my X-Pot/Kettle and produces a great cup of coffee in the morning.
Figure 2.2 lbs / 1 kg per person per day for food – get rid of superfluous packaging at home by storing food in Ziploc® bags with one day’s supply of food each bag. Check out the blog post on backcountry cooking — camping is much more than just rehydrating freeze-dried meals… You’ll also need a bear/critter bag to hang food in a tree at night — be careful not to snag it on branches if you go for something particularly light.
I bring a 5 litre Kitchen Sink and a 40ml bottle of Wilderness Wash with me for dishwashing (and personal hygiene). Not only does this simplify dishwashing, but a bowl of warm water, some soap, and a Pocket Towel at the conclusion of a hard hiking day (before to changing into dry clothing for the night) may refresh your mind.
5. First-aid and emergency readiness
I have a ’10 basics’ kit, as well as enough first aid to clean and cover most small wounds – and it’s all kept dry and organised in a 1 Liter Ultra-Sil® Dry Sack. In our Ultimate First Aid Kit Guide, learn more about what to bring.