Our Backpacking Essentials

Getting Started

Camping without comfort is just sitting in the woods and who wants to do that?  Once you have your hammock, suspension, and sleeping system dialed in, you are ready to start loading your pack with extras. Below we will go over our favorite and must have backpacking gear that we take along with us.  Be sure to drop any questions or comments below and let us know what you take along!

Disclosure: We are not gram weenies when loading our pack.  Everything we list can be substituted for something lighter.  When we are getting gear for camping/backpacking we look for a few things; Functionality, price and testimonials.

 

Camp Gear

This section will go over what we use around camp to keep things tidy and comfortable. 

Ground Tarp

First up is going to be a ground tarp.  This piece of gear comes in handy quite often but is mostly used under our hammocks to give us a place to stand and spread out our gear without getting debris on everything.  We also use it for food breaks while hiking, pack cover when we’ve misplaced ours, and can be used as a quick shelter if needed.  Attach it to the outside of your pack for quick and easy deployment!

Blue Groud tarp with backpacking pack on it
Blue Ground Tarp in pouch

Hiking Poles

While you may not think that hiking poles belong in gear around the campsite, they are very useful for setting your tarp in lean-to mode. When I originally bought hiking poles it was for the sole purpose to use with my tarp.  As time went on, I began to use them more and more as I hiked.  Today there’s very few times that you will find me hiking without them.  You may not realize the amount of stress it takes off of your joints until you use them.  They also make ascending and descending much easier.   Another advantage of hiking poles are stream and river crosses to help you keep your balance. 

 

Now back to using them around camp.  There aren’t many times that I will hammock without setting up a tarp.  When I’m camping I want to take in as much nature as possible and don’t want to feel like I’m being enclosed by something.  This is where your poles come in to play.  You can use them to lift one side of your tarp up like in the picture.  If pitched properly, you can use it like this in mild storms as the water will still shed properly!

Hiking poles
Tarp setup with one side higer than the other

Camp Chair

While your hammock can be used as a chair and is extremely comfortable, you are limited to being between two trees.  A camp chair can be very light weight and allows you to maneuver where ever you like.  They are great for sitting around a campfire and keeping you off the ground.

There are many different designs of chairs but the one that we have found that we like most is shown in the picture.  These collapse well and fit into a case that is attached to the outside of our pack. 

 

Orange and black backpacking chair

Camp Table

Blue backpacking table

Preparing meals on the ground? No thank you! This is why we bring along a backpacking table.  It gives you a side table while you are sitting in your chair or hammock! While I wouldn’t say a table is a MUST have it sure makes things a lot more convenient.

Better yet, be sure to set it up next to you before bed and you will be ready to make breakfast from your hammock without having to get out!

Camp Kitchen

Below we will go through some items that we like to use to make preparing food and water easier once you get to camp.

Cookware

I love this stack-able cookware. This unit comes with two food bowls, two bowls for drinking with insulators to keep your hands safe; two lids, two fold-able sporks, a pot to boil and cook in and a strainer/lid. Lastly the carrying case that it comes in also doubles as a sink to wash your dishes. Its great when things can perform double duty. 

Sure there are better options out there but when you are just getting started, this is all you need for you and a friend.  Whether you have a stove or are cooking over an open fire, this kit will take care of you!

outdoor cookset
GSI cookware

Kitchen Utensils

Travel Utensiles

When you are ready to grub after a long day of hiking make sure that you have all the utensils that you need. This kit has everything you will need to prep and cook your meal. It also comes with a nice carrying case to keep everything together.

I have removed and added some things to this to customize it to what I really want. 

Gravity Filter

One of my favorite and must have pieces of gear is a Gravity Filter.  This device allows you to take dirty water and hang it via a bag.  Attached to the bottom of the bag is a hose that will run through a water filtration device and finally into your collection device. 

Gone are the days of waiting 30 mins to drink your water and still having to filter out sediment.  No need to boil your water and wait for it to cool back down.  A Gravity Filter is basically like having water on tap while you are out in the woods.

The one I use is a 10 liter bag ran to a Sawyer water filter with a carbon filter attached after that.  This allows you to have plenty of water to refill your water bladders and still have enough to cook with. 

Man using gravity water filter

Image credit here

French Press

While coffee may not be for everyone, I love a warm cup of coffee first thing in the morning and even more so when camping.  A quick and easy way to get that fresh brewed coffee while camping is a French Press.  There are many other options such as instant coffee, percolators, and drip coffees.

With a French Press, I have used the press to boil water for meals.  This makes it a multi use piece of equipment, which is always great when weight is an issue.

Backpacking French Press

Conclusion

If you’ve made it to this point then thank you!  We hope this article has helped point you in a direction to make your camping trip a little more comfortable.  If you have any questions or you have a favorite item that you take with you, be sure to drop it below.  Until then… Get Hanging!


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