Gauge Cost your Backpacking Expidition
Whether you're spending a few nights on a local hiking trail or backpacking across Europe, planning is everything. All great backpacking trips start with smart packing, and this handy guide shows you how to prepare for an outdoor adventure - whether it's for a week, month, six months or a year.
PACKING FOR A ONE-WEEK TRIP
A one-week backpacking trip is a great way to introduce yourself to the thrills of long-distance hiking. Packing is a challenge, but the great thing about a one-week trip is that the stakes aren't too high.
Choosing Your Pack
For any trip lasting a week or longer, choose a pack with a capacity of at least 4,500 cubic inches, or 75 liters, according to BackCountry.com. Buy your pack in person rather than online so you can choose one that has a comfortable fit and the storage features you want.
Some backpackers obsess over the weight of their packs, and there are numerous opinions on the ideal pack weight. But as a general rule, for trips lasting a week or longer, it's a good idea to keep your pack weight at 30 pounds or less, including water.
Every trip is different, but in a lot of ways, your needs are the same no matter where you're going and how long you'll be gone.
Here's a basic look at the essentials:
- Shelter: A tent is an essential item for most backpackers, although some rely on a tarp or hammock system instead. You can get a one-person backpacking tent for under $200.
- Sleep system: A warm, lightweight sleeping bag can cost anywhere from $100 to over $500, but it's worth it on cold nights in the woods. Camping pillows and sleeping pads are optional. If you can sleep comfortably without them, leave them behind.
- Footwear: Your shoes should be durable, comfortable and lightweight. But above all, they need to fit right. You can get a good pair of hiking shoes for under $150.
- Clothing: Some hikers pack only the clothes they are wearing, but that's pushing it. Consider packing an additional shirt, pair of pants and pair of socks in case you get wet, as well as a lightweight waterproof jacket and an insulating layer to ward off the cold.
- Food: For a one-week trip — assuming you won't be cooking — bring nutritious and calorie-packed things like granola bars, cereals, dried fruit, nuts, trail mixes and jerky. About 1.5 pounds of food per day is a good general rule, depending on your weight and exertion level.
- Water: Expect to drink 3 quarts of water per day, and always carry at least 1 quart with you at all times in case water gets scarce. That means packing one or two water bottles, along with some method for treating your water, like purification tablets or a filtration system.
- Navigation: GPS and mapping apps on your phone are nice, but don't rely on them alone. Bring a compass and a detailed physical trail map or guidebook.
- Toiletries: Bring a toothbrush, small roll of toilet paper, some toothpaste and biodegradable soap in small travel-sized containers. Include anything else you consider essential based on your needs — just remember not to overpack.
- Emergency supplies: At a minimum, bring a lighter, waterproof matches, a basic first aid kit, flashlight or headlamp, extra batteries, a knife or multi-tool, whistle, signal mirror and a tiny roll of duct tape for emergency repairs.
- Storage: Choose a selection of dry bags in various sizes to keep your clothes, food and supplies dry and organized within your backpack. If you're hiking in an area where bears have been seen, bring a waterproof bear bag and a 50-foot cord to hang it from a tree overnight.