Itemized Beginners Gear List For Backpacking and Camping

Published by Mama Bear on

Determined to have that backpacking adventure?  This beginners gear list might help.

The few things I can’t stress enough is knowing your area, and safety concerns you need to be aware of, a decent quality backpack with a waist strap, and keeping the load lightweight by the careful selection of each item.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew, beginner adventures need to be within your skills and ability range.

  • Orientation Kit: Map of the area, compass, GPS, and knowledge on how to use it. Or an App with the map of the area, in your cell phone which is tucked into a plastic zipper bag.
  • Backpack: Choosing a well-fitted backpack is entirely worth the effort.  You could borrow one to start, but research how to fit a pack properly and make sure it is adjusted to your torso length and the straps are adjusted correctly.  It makes the weight fit just right, it feels like a part of your body instead of a burden. a 65L BACKPACK is plenty large enough.
  • Boots: Wear good quality, well-fitted footwear.  Tied, and secure.  Ankle support if you’re prone to weak ankles.
  • Light: Headlamps Rock.  They allow you to work around the sight after dark hands free, this is a bonus you will recognize if you have struggled with a flashlight in your mouth or armpit just so you have hands free.
  • Knives: A decent quality fixed blade knife, and a decent quality folding blade pocket knife.  I also like to carry a folding saw. While selecting these, always be mindful of the weight, and the storage sheath. Check HERE for some ideas
  • Sleeping Kit: Underpad or mattress, and Sleeping bag.  You want a ground pad of some kind.  As your experience develops, and you determine this is the sport for you, you will want to research and invest seriously into this. Sleeping bag selection is very broad as well.  Choose a season-appropriate sleeping bag. Most bags are packaged with a temperature rating estimate.  A liner adds extra warmth and keeps the bag cleaner.
  • Tent: Find the smallest tent that suits your needs.  You don’t want a 4 man tent you can stand up in just for yourself. and you don’t want to be carrying 10lbs of tent plus all your other gear. Tentmakers are mindful of how weight matters, watch for their labelling.  As your skills develop a tarp might be handy. Have a look here for some ideas.
  • Water Treatment Kit: You will need a personal water bottle, and a way to obtain clean drinking and cooking water.  If there is a group you will want a larger collapsible canteen.  it can be filtered through a bandana over the lip of a water bottle, and boiled as is, making sure the water in the threads at the top is treated or boiled too. It can be pumped through a filtration kit, or treated with purification drops or tablets.  Research before you decide what works best for you. WATER you waiting for?
  • Personal Hygiene: Toilet Paper, I have always just grabbed the half-finished rolls, crushed them flat and popped them in a baggie, plus one for back up.  Each with a tiny bottle of hand sanitizer. They fit nicely in a back pocket. A small garden trowel is very handy for digging the “cat hole” Campsuds, toothbrush kit, J-Cloth or similar wash towels. I like TowTabs, they expand from a tablet into a cloth with a little water, plus they are made from wood fibre so they can be tossed in the fire pit to be burned off when they reach the end of their usefulness.
  • Safety Kit: Bear Spray.  Insect repellent with Deet.  I’ve learned from personal experience if you can find one over 30%, that usually does the trick.  Sun Screen, and sun-blocking clothing.  A First Aid kit and the knowledge of some basics.    Dry Sack, and 25ft or more rope, this is a waterproof, closed top bag for hanging food any scented items from a tree and rope, called a bear bag. Helps keep bears noses away from your campsite and keep raccoons and skunks, chipmunks and squirrels from feasting freely.
  • Fire Kit: pick 2, Lighter, matches, Ferro rod, a chosen method plus a backup.  Paper, or other dry tinder from the area, and don’t forget, if you are struggling, a dribble of that hand sanitizer in your back pocket with the TP, it is flammable too, but a near invisible flame.
  • Cooking Kit: This includes a cooking container and a cooking method. Find a small enough, but large enough pot or mug for what your menu needs. Folding handles make it easier to pack.   Don’t forget lightweight dishes and utensils.  Only the minimum.
  • Extras: duct tape, folding stool, hat, bandana, fishing kit, sewing kit, plastic zipper bags, trash bag or 2.
  • Don’t over pack, but don’t skimp to the point of safety risk either.  We want to have fun, Carrying 50lbs will not be fun, but also forgetting TP won’t be fun, although there are other methods,  yeah, I’d rather not go there.Please feel free to leave a comment below, your feedback is valuable to me.  I look forward to hearing from you, and I will respond.


James · January 22, 2016 at 4:30 pm

Totally agree with this list. I don’t do as much backpacking as I used to, but I do remember how hard it is to not overpack and how much it sucks on the way up when you realize you brought too much. Another thought is to reach out to anyone you might find in a bulletin board or via facebook who’s done the same trek in the same time of year and see what they needed the most and what they didn’t need just to level set. And, as always, don’t forget to check the weather!

    Mama Bear · January 23, 2016 at 3:35 am

    Ah yes, check the weather. That pre-trip preparedness can be a post all of it’s own. Thanks for the idea. I’ve been on several trips, usually I am the one providing basic gear for 2-3 other people. I do go and research others who have done the same trek before I decide on the final details. It sure does help. Knowing that I was going to cross a beaver dam in one park prepared me for it.

    Always check the weather, and hunting season.

Michael · January 22, 2016 at 4:40 pm

Hey Karen,
This is a very well written article that I enjoyed reading. I like how you explained each equipment well and you kept it nice, short, and to the point. I am actually glad I found this article, because my friends and I are planning a camping trip up north where I live. I will be sure to bookmark your site and keep checking it to see if we have all the equipment that will be necessary. Thank you! 🙂

    Mama Bear · January 23, 2016 at 3:26 am

    Thank you for the review. I appreciate your kind words. I may be writing more of this type of posts and continuing to hone the articles.

JP · January 24, 2016 at 1:27 am

Looks like we’ve got an Eagle Scout running this site! but seriously, good stuff. Some of the stuff mentioned in the blog post are things that I would’ve never thought of bringing, but now that I know, make so much sense to bring them. Keep up the interesting posts, as I can see you have a passion for the outdoors.

    Mama Bear · January 24, 2016 at 2:46 am

    Thank you for your comments. I’m not sure if an Eagle Scout running the site is a good thing or not. I do plan on developing the content further. Keep watching, there will be growth.

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