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Off to the Wilderness: Essential Gear Every Outdoor Enthusiast Should Pack

A wilderness adventure has much to offer the hiker, including an abundance of clean air, body-strengthening physical activities, wildlife encounters, and beautiful views of nature. It’s essential to pack the right gear to stay safe and healthy on your trip.

First Aid Kits Save Lives

The Red Cross cautions that no hiker should be without a good quality first aid kit in his or her backpack. There are pre-packaged kits you can purchase, or you can build your own. If your hike will be lengthy, pack larger amounts of first aid supplies.

A homemade kit should include a mirror, whistle, magnifying glass like a MagniPros, scissors, package of needles, strong thread, tweezers, safety pins, thermometer, a triple antibiotic ointment, alcohol wipes, adhesive tape, large and small sizes of adhesive-backed bandages, moleskin (for blisters), butterfly strips gauze roll and pads, ace bandages, bandannas (for sling), painkiller (aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen), antihistamine for allergies, a mylar blanket, and some powdered Gatorade for dehydration.

At least one person on the trek should have some first-aid training. At the very least, include a first aid handbook in the kit. If your first aid kit is in a canvas or plastic container, mark it with an American flag Velcro patch for fast identification.

Tools To Keep You Sheltered And Safe

There are essential tools every backpacker needs for building shelter, purifying water, and staying warm. The Backpacking web site elaborates on the items every backpacker should carry. A topography map and a compass are necessary to prevent getting lost. Learn how to correctly use both of these. A headlamp for hands-free walking after dark, and a small hand-held flashlight for the little nighttime jobs around the camp.

A Swiss Army Knife includes a lot of tools you will find useful. There are a variety of models, and you should choose one with features you can actually use. The Wenger model includes wire cutters, scissors, wood saw, awl, screw driver, reamer, corkscrew, can opener, cap lifter, tweezers, and other help tools. These knives come in all sizes and can be used for a variety of uses including first aid, small repairs, preparing meals, and cutting cordage.

A small axe can cut firewood, stakes to hold up shelter, and used to make small wildlife traps if you get stranded and need food. Boiling water is necessary unless you carry purification tablets or have a water filter that removes bacteria and giardia. With the heating method, allow water to boil for 20 minutes in a fireproof pan before cooling and placing in a container that is only for purified water. A tarp can be used to make a comfortable shelter to keep you warm and dry. Don’t forget the duct tape because there are numerous ways you will find to use it.

Waterproof Matches And Fire Starters

When you piled up your wood and kindling, regular or waterproof matches should work fine and get a roaring campfire started easily. Waterproof matches are designed to stay workable even if they have exposed to damp conditions. They will not be able to start wet wood.

You can either purchase or make your own fire starters to make sure you get a hot blazing fire started quickly. This is important in emergency situations when someone is chilled and possibly suffering from hypothermia. You can look online for instructions to make your own fire starters.

Sleeping Bag And Clothing

Keeping warm and dry is critical when you are out in the wilderness and mountains. Your clothing needs to be warm and dry, and nothing should be made of cotton. Synthetic fabrics that don’t absorb water are best for clothing, undergarments, and socks. Wear a thin sock, with a wool boot sock over it. Synthetic pile and fleece are excellent insulating fabrics and both resist moisture while keeping your body core warm.

The three essential factors to consider when purchasing a sleeping bag are the temperature rating, weight vs roominess, and the insulation material. You want to choose a temperature rating that is a bit higher than what you expect to encounter.

Look for a sleeping bag that is both roomy and lightweight for carrying. Choose between down, water-repellent down, or synthetic fills. While synthetics are a bit heavier and not as easy to compress, they are excellent in damp and cold weather and cost less.

Make your next backpacking trip a safe excursion. Be sure you have all the tools and equipment to enjoy a warm and exciting trek.

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David Anderson is an adrenalin junkie who loves travel, adventure and testing his limits! He writes for travel and outdoor enthusiast related sites sharing his top tips and adventure stories.

Pinterest photo by DLG Images & Medisave UK.


  1. Hi, Megan and Mike! This is a great guide for spending a quality time outdoors, whatever it`s the activity that is taken. You put some amazing pieces of advice here, so I`m sure a new hikers, campers or backpackers will find this article very helpful.I was wondering, what do you think is a most common mistake people make when it comes to gear?

    • Hi Nigel, thanks for stopping by. So glad you enjoyed the guide! Common mistakes when it comes to gear, I would say not traveling with a first aid kit, and for those who do, not knowing how to actually use the supplies properly in case of accident or emergency. First aid knowledge should be vital for any outdoor enthusiast :)

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