The Big Wake Up With Don Chase and Sarah

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Here are the 4 backpacking essentials every newcomer needs to make sure they bring... no matter how obvious it might seem.

Every year, my two older brothers and I go off on an adventure – backpacking with our essentials, somewhere new and somewhere beautiful!

Last year, we tackled The Cirque of the Towers in Wyoming. This is part of the Wind River Range, in Bridger-Teton National Forest. This hike was absolutely stunning, challenging, and rewarding.

So this year we have decided to backpack in the Sawtooth Mountain Range of Idaho. This is a part of the Rocky Mountains reaching just below 11,000 feet. I can’t wait to see (and possibly swim) in the crystal clear lakes and marvel at the high granite peaks.

While I enjoy backpacking, I know it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. It can be very intimidating and I don’t recommend going in blind. However, I truly believe you are capable of more than you know and that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.

That being said, I came up with a list of the bare basic backpacking essentials. These can apply to just a day hike or a full on backpacking trip.

  • Pack

    Think of your pack this way – whatever you ABSOLUTELY need and can fit on your back, goes on your pack. Therefore you don’t want it too big, and you don’t want it too small! For a day trip, something smaller to fit some snacks, water, sunscreen, etc. will be fine. For a multi-day trip where your life is essentially on your back, you will want to be fitted by an expert that can help you with sizes, comfortability and features that appeal to you and your needs.

  • Water

    Water = Life. Do not underestimate its importance. Again, for a day trip some water bottles will sustain you. However, on a multi day trip, you will want to do your research. Do you want to tack on a bunch of extra pounds to carry by bringing a ton of water jugs with you? Or are there natural water resources around you to pull from. My brothers and I bring one or two water bottles with us and a filtration system. We use that system to fill up constantly along our way so that we are never low on water. It’s a lighter option as far as weight you carry but requires mapping out your path carefully to make sure you come upon water frequently.

  • Clothing

    There are so many clothing options out there. Keep it basic and keep it light. I will bring multiple pairs of socks and underwear. But will bring only one of everything else. One pair of shorts, one pair of pants. One tank, one short sleeve and one long sleeve top. A set of thermals. A baseball hat and a wool cap for the cooler evenings. 1 or 2 types of coats. And that’s it. It may seem bare – but remember this is only a 4 day hike (and I’m with my brothers – who am I trying to impress? Ha!)

  • Shoes

    Shoes can be more complicated than you think. There are a ton of factors to consider. Remember, weight is the enemy when you are working off traveling under your own power. The famous saying among hikers is “A pound on your feet equals five on your back.” However, lightweight isn’t always better. Heavier shoes can mean more durability, extra protection, comfort, etc. Therefore, assess your needs – do you roll your ankles often and need more stability? Do you need or want waterproof shoes? How far is your journey? Are you on more rocky terrain? Do your own research, look into best rated boots, and work with an expert to find a pair (or few) that’s best for you!

  • The Essentials

    There is obviously a lot more that goes into backpacking than this – your shelter, food, food security, devices and tools you’ll need, etc. But these are the 4 main basics that can carry you over for even a day hike with friends.

    Getting started can feel a little overwhelming, but being out in nature is so rewarding that it’s always worth it. Remember, you are capable of more than you know! Get outdoors, soak up the sunshine, give your mind a rest from the hustle and bustle of life, and explore!