Whether it is your first time backpacking or you are a seasoned veteran when it comes to hitting the trails, having the proper gear is a massive component to having a successful trip. But the constant struggle between packing the essentials and packing too much is always tricky, which is where minimalist backpacking comes in. To be a pro in backpacking, careful consideration is crucial in the decision process of every item that gets brought on the trip. While it never hurts to bring a few extra items, the truth is, you don’t need to bring as many things as you think you do, and carrying too many things can even make the trip more challenging. Minimalist backpacking is all about comfort and enjoyment, which are the two most important aspects of a backpacking adventure. Below in this article, we will cover the Minimalist Backpacking Essentials for Beginners.
There’s a lot of gear available for every type of backpacker, but we’re going to talk about the bare essentials you need to have for a successful backpacking trip.
Backpacks range anywhere between ultralight to fully-featured models, but for a minimalist trip, your decision should come down to the length of your journey and how bulky your gear is. For most backpacking trips, a 60-70 liter backpack should be more than enough to carry all of your equipment.
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While you hope it’s something you never have to use, you never want to be in a situation where you don’t have it. Since most backpacking trips are spent away from civilization, emergency gear is essential and should never be left behind.
The weather will primarily determine the clothing you bring on your trip, but the vital thing you want to avoid is cotton. Cotton can cause extreme chafing and blisters on long hiking trips and also doesn’t dry very quickly or do a great job of wicking away sweat from your body. Try focusing on synthetic or wool blends (especially your socks), and be sure to pack base layers to help regulate your body temperature throughout the day.
With all the time you’ll be spending on your feet and carrying a lot of weight on your back, your boots should also be a huge priority. You want them to be comfortable and supportive, but you also want to be sure they will protect you from rolling your ankles and have breathability.
The type of tent you bring will also be another big decision. Your tent will serve as protection and refuge while you’re on your trip, so you want to be sure it’s not only lightweight but will be spacious enough for you and anyone else tagging along and is relatively easy to set up.
Similar to your tent, your sleeping bag is also essential. A rule of thumb is to get a sleeping bag that is rated for lower temperatures than you’re expecting and one that is also lightweight.
Food and Water
The great part about packing food on a hike is that it’s light and doesn’t take up much space in your backpack. The good news is, depending on the food you want to bring (example, oatmeal), sometimes the only added ingredient is water, which makes packing even more comfortable. Also, water is essential for hydration on the trail, and while some prefer water bottles, reservoirs or collapsible bottles are great for easy refills and are incredibly lightweight. Don’t forget to add a water filter to the checklist, as they are essential to maintain healthy water intake.
Last, but certainly not least, you’re going to want to bring a headlamp that will last a long time and work in all climates. A good headlamp allows you to see in the dark and keep your hands free to work or finish a late-night trek. There are plenty of options to choose from, and they aren’t too expensive, so don’t be afraid to spend a few extra dollars to get a high-quality headlamp that will last for many hikes to come.
How to Backpack Properly
There’s nothing like hitting the trail for a few days with nothing more than a backpack full of essential outdoor items. If it’s your first time backpacking, be sure to think about how far you plan on hiking, how remote the location is, and what type of weather you’re expecting. Generally speaking, the duration of the hike and variety in the weather will determine what is essential to bring with you. Other than that, emergency gear, necessary gear, and comfortable gear should be at the top of your minimalist backpacking checklist when it is time to start packing. Wherever you decide to go, have fun and stay safe!