Your Outdoor Skills: What to Pack (part 3)
You’ve gathered your essential camping items; now it’s time to focus on the accessories.The experienced backpackers here at Littlbug Enterprises always remember that pounds are made up of ounces and that every ounce matters when you have to carry it for a long time. A lighter pack is just more enjoyable to carry! Selecting the right gear can help shed a few pounds from your pack while making sure you have what you need for a safe and enjoyable journey. Here are some of the essentials we recommend for anyone looking to explore the great outdoors from a weekend getaway in the woods to a multi day backcountry trip.*
You may not wash your hair every day, but brushing your teeth and washing your hands is still important in the backcountry. Some essentials to pack include a toothbrush, toothpaste, and hand sanitizer. Biodegradable soap helps keep dishes clean while reducing harm to the environment. Toilet paper and female hygiene products are also helpful in the backcountry. Some skip the toilet paper and use leaves, or snow in the winter.
Remember, follow the Leave No Trace guidelines:
- Pack out your used toilet paper and female hygiene products.
- When you’re going to the bathroom or using hygiene products (soaps and toothpastes) stay at least 100 yards away from water sources like lakes, rivers, streams, etc.
- Bring a small hand shovel and dig a hole for your body waste when there isn’t a designated latrine.
Headlamps, Lanterns, and Flashlights
No one likes waking up in the middle of the night, having to use the lou, and realizing they forgot a light source! Headlamps are our go to light source in the backcountry and work great for setting up camp, taking down camp, cooking, or hiking in the dark. Really, they make doing anything in the dark easier. They let you be handsfree while lighting your line of vision. We especially love using headlamps when cooking with a backcountry stove like the Littlbug stove. Being lightweight and compact, they add only a few ounces and take up minimal space in your pack. Headlamps with bells and whistles tend to have a higher price tag. Luckily, those without gimmicks work just as well without the higher price! Remember, don’t blind your friends with your headlamp when you’re wearing it.
Lanterns illuminate an area without being attached to you, and that’s what we love about them! Traditional lantern designs tend to be heavy and bulky so we don’t recommend them for the backcountry, but they work great for car camping. Newer models are trying to be more backcountry and eco friendly and options include inflatable and solar powered lanterns.
Flashlights are nice for car camping but limit what you can do when using one. They make great team building exercises, where one person holds the light and the other completes a task.
We do our best to make our gear multipurpose in the backcountry. A camping towel meets that criteria perfectly! Not only can it be used for its main purpose, we like to modify it to help out in other areas. Here are just a couple of ways we find towels useful:
- Pot Holder - After cooking dinner on the Littlbug stove or other cooking stove, your cookware is bound to be hot. Instead of burning your hand or stretching your shirt sleeves, a folded towel makes the perfect pot holder!
- Dish rag and towel - Get the corner of your towel wet and use it to wipe your dishes clean. Then use a dry corner to dry the dishes
- Seat cushion - Fold your towel two or three times and it becomes the perfect seat cushion. This not only keeps your tush from getting dirty or wet (depending on the conditions) it also provides a little extra cushion from the hard ground.
- Protect your gear - Dirt seems to get everywhere when camping. Using your towel as a barrier to set your gear out can help keep your gear stay clean a bit longer.
Hiking/Trekking Poles or Walking Sticks
We love hiking poles! Read up on why we think they make a great addition to your gear here.
Compass and Map
You’re probably laughing at us. A compass and map? So old school - I’ve got my GPS and phone! Yes, but technology can break. The last thing you want is your battery to die or your GPS to float downstream miles into your trip without a backup plan. So, have a backup plan and grab your manual, foolproof navigation tools. If you aren’t familiar with map reading or using a compass, now’s the time to learn! Check your local outdoor store or community education classes to see if they offer navigation classes. And, of course, the internet is a great resource.
First Aid Kit
Although we try to bring along items that provide multiple uses, there is one thing we carry that we hope we'll never use - a first aid kit. No one likes thinking about what might or could happen in the backcountry, but that doesn’t mean you don’t prepare for it. If you want an easy solution, there are plenty of pre-built first aid kits you can buy; or you can build your own. REI has a great list if you are interested in building your own. You can never have too many bandaids, ointments, or pain relievers, so don’t be afraid to add some extras.
Other Items to Consider:
Knife or multipurpose tool
Lighter or 'strike anywhere' wooden matches
Bring along a new outdoor skill!
When it comes to outdoor skills the more you bring along, the less you have to carry. Skills don't break and they're never left behind. They don’t leak, tear, and they don’t get wet!
*This is not an extensive list for the gear you may need for your backcountry or camping trip. Each trip requires different kinds of gear and everyone has their own preferences. These items are suggestions for you to consider to help enhance your outdoor adventure.