Camping & Hiking Gear a Beginner’s Dilemma
When you are experienced, choosing camping & hiking gear is an easy thing to do even with thousands of them available on the market. You just choose which gear works best for you in the past and which one you’re comfortable with.
Experienced hikers usually go with their gut feeling. They can quickly dismiss camping and hiking gear that are just full of hype. After all camping and hiking gear is not about choosing the most expensive or the trendiest. Again it’s about choosing what works for you, the individual or as a group for some camping & hiking gear, and the conditions.
There are a lot of camping and hiking gear to choose from. You need to choose which hiking boots you are going to use or whether you are going to use hiking shoes instead.
You’ll also want to decide on camping tents, hiking backpack, sleeping bag, hiking and camping clothing, hiking socks, cooking equipment, camping cookware, other essential equipment and hiking accessories.
Hiking Boots or Hiking Shoes
When we say hiking and camping, it means that we are going to spend more than a day of hiking. Pretty obvious isn’t it? Believe it or not, what is not so obvious is why should use hiking boots instead of hiking shoes or vice versa.
Hiking footwear is one of an essential camping and hiking gear because if you have problems as a result of your hiking footwear, it can spoil your hiking trip. You won’t be able to enjoy hiking, as you should actually.
The guideline to whether you should use hiking boots or hiking shoes is to use hiking boots if your ankles are prone to twisting, you’re going to be hiking on some rough terrain, and you’ll be carrying a heavy backpack.
Use hiking shoes if you are prone to blisters, you’ll be hiking on natural terrain, and you’re only carrying a backpack. For these reasons, you would want to have hiking boots as part of your camping and hiking gear. There are ways to protect yourself from blisters by using special padding on prone areas and using thick socks.
But there are also many kinds of hiking boots, some are light, some heavy, some of them leather and others use different kinds of fabric. The rule of thumb is to use the ones which you are most comfortable wearing and then to make sure; you test them on day hikes. Testing your hiking boots will reveal potential issues that you might have on longer hiking trips.
The hiking tent is also one of the most critical camping and hiking gear. If you choose the wrong hiking tent, you will end up having a shelter that is not protecting you from the elements, and in some cases, you won’t be able to set up your tent at all.
The best way to choose hiking tent is not by its weight but by evaluating the conditions that you will be subjected to. In other words, you need to know what kind of climate and weather you will encounter while hiking and camping.
But first, you need to decide on how many people the tent is going to house. There’s no point in having a camping tent that’s perfect for the weather but won’t fit everyone in your group. Choose a tent that would fit everyone in your group plus one extra for camping and hiking gear and equipment.
After you’ve identified which hiking tent would be most suitable for the climate and weather, you choose base on weight. Bigger and more complicated tents are obviously heavier but if you are in a group, having just one tent can save some weight by sharing other camping and hiking gear and distributing the weight between the group members.
The backpack is the camping and hiking gear that holds and protect most of your other camping and hiking gear. The most important thing in choosing a backpack is that it should fit comfortably.
You also need to choose between the internal frame, external frame, and modular backpacks.
Internal frame backpacks are ideal for rough terrain because the load weight is low and closer to the back and hence helps reduce bouncing and helps to maintain balance. It also makes the weight feel more comfortable.
External frame backpacks in general consist of a rigid frame made of aluminum which is light and strong. External frame backpacks are used when to carry a very heavy load. They are good for ventilation as the frame holds the pack away from your back, but they carry the weight higher up.
The advantage external frame backpacks have over internal frame backpack is that it’s often less expensive than internal frame backpacks and there are more compartments for organizing your hiking-camping gear.
Modular backpacks are essentially like the internal frame, but they have more flexibility regarding usage. You can use it as a large backpack or as a day pack by removing the ‘modules.’ It’s like having a few backpacks in one.
If you are in a hot and humid place, this camping and hiking gear is not essential. It may not be practical to use because it’s too hot at night. You can simply replace it with a blanket, which is much lighter.
In cold countries, however, the sleeping bag is an essential part of your camping and hiking gear. It keeps you warm by trapping hot air generated by your body. The fibers in the sleeping bag trap pockets of air providing extra insulation.
In choosing sleeping bags, you cannot only rely on the ratings provided by the manufacturer. These ratings make assumptions on your body weight, metabolism, and many others. It’s an exact science, and every manufacturer has different standards. A sleeping bag that has been used for a long time will probably have gone down regarding temperature ratings.
Though ratings are unreliable, you usually get what you pay for and the more expensive sleeping bags perform better. Try to get a quality sleeping. It’s worth the money.
You can build your fire to cook and save weight and money on camping stoves but making your fire may not be possible in every situation particularly when it’s wet. Camping stoves also make the cooking process quick and easy.
You can choose from liquid fuel stove, cylinder stove, combination stove and alcohol stove.
Liquid fuel stoves function on white gas, unleaded petrol, white spirits or even dry cleaning fluid. This type of camping stove is very reliable and popular in places of extreme cold.
Cylinder stoves function on pressurized butane and propane. They’re very light and easy to operate, but they don’t perform well in extreme cold.
Combination stoves are very versatile as it can use both gas and liquid fuels. These camping stoves are heavy, but it’s very adaptable.
Alcohol stoves are the lightest of them all and function on methylated spirits which are light and widely available. The problem with this type of portable stove is that it has a low heat output and cooking can be slow.
Based on these you can decide which one would be useful for you whether you’re going to encounter extreme cold or high altitudes or whether you want a lightweight stove or whether you are going to cook simple meals with your portable stove and rely on the campfire for other cooking.
This is one area of hiking-camping gear that should be the easiest to choose because you can have a delicious meal even with minimal camping cookware.
In most cases, a small pot, some cutlery, plastic dishes, zip-lock bags, food carriers to hang from a tree to keep your food safe from animals, a lightweight mug and synthetic pads for cleaning are enough.
First Aid Kit (with manual)
Your first aid kit should contain wound dressings, adhesive strips, gauze bandages, pain killers, disposable syringes, hypodermic needles, sterile cleaning swabs, micropore tape, and scissors. Make sure you know how to use them and bring along the instructions just in case.
For personal hygiene try to bring along miniature versions of everything. If not, put them in smaller packages to save space and weight.
Other Essential Equipment
Some camping and hiking gear are only necessary in cold weather or at high altitudes. Examples are winter gaiters, insulating socks, crampons, traction devices, balaclava, neckwear, sunglasses and the life-saving ice ax.
Other Essential Hiking-Camping gear & Hiking Accessories
Other important camping and hiking gear include water carriers, water filters, first aid kit, personal hygiene kit, compass, and map.
The choice of water carriers can depend on practicality and personal preferences. Water bottles are usually good enough, but if you are hiking at freezing temperatures, it is advisable that you use bottles that can withstand freezing temperatures.
Hydration systems that use a drinking tube allow you to keep hydrated effortlessly while on the move.
For water filters, you should get the ones that filter out both microorganisms and parasites. Don’t just depend on iodine tablets. You can also boil your water, but it’s not practical for filling up your water bottle.
Some camping and hiking gear are not essential but makes life easier one way or another.
A trekking pole or walking stick, for example, helps you walk faster and with more efficiency by keeping the pressure off your knees and keeping you balanced. They also are used to ward off wild animals and be used as a tent pole. Some trekking poles can even be used as a monopod for your camera.
A GPS can also be useful to ensure that you don’t get lost especially when you wander off the hiking trail, and an altimeter can be helpful in mountainous terrain. A pedometer can tell you how far you’ve walk and can be used to set targets.
A cell phone can be useful for emergencies but don’t rely on it too much because you may not have a signal in the woods.
There are a lot more hiking accessories to mention here but feel free to add them in the comments below. Remember always to use a checklist to prepare your camping and hiking gear.