Backpacking cross country is a time honored tradition for young adults. Part journey, part adventure, it is a ritual that includes braving the elements, whether they be rain, sleet, snow or rock slides. Not only must you contend with sweeping hills and twenty mile walks, but the unpredictable vagaries of mother nature. However, despite the inherent danger of the wilderness, equipping yourself with the proper materials and survival gear will help prepare you for anything that old crone has in store. The following are 5 essential items that every first time backpacker should have:
1. Directional Gear
The first items you will need is a map to determine your route and a compass to ensure you follow it. If you lose your compass, make use of some traditional hiking techniques, such as the position of the sun or moss on a tree. Educating yourself on wilderness survival methods may come in handy in the event your gadgets break down.
2. Tools for Fire and Rain
Fire is an integral part of backpacking, as it provides a way to keep warm and cook your meals. Starting a fire, however, can be an almost impossible task without a lighter or matches, and it’s a good idea to keep an ample supply of both. For areas of heavy rain, make sure to equip yourself with the proper clothes and have a tent ready for shelter. Hypothermia is a major cause of death in the wilderness. For this reason a synthetic sleeping bag may be a good idea, as they are easier to keep dry. Down bags provide the most warmth, but become useless if soaking wet.
3. Items Specific to Your Trip
Not all terrain is equal. It is a good idea to bring materials specific for the environment you plan to traverse. For example, if you plan on traveling through damp, marsh areas, bring mosquito repellent. In wide open deserts, bring extra sunblock. Think about the type of conditions that you will endure and what sort of specialty items are suitable. If you suffer from any specific allergies, find out what areas in advance may be danger zones and pack the appropriate medication.
4. First Aid Kit
You can purchase either a pre-packaged for backpackers or build your own. Any good kit should include bandages and disinfectant for wounds. If you are sensitive to pain, pack oral medication for relief. Your first aid kit should also contain foot care products to handle the assortment of blisters you will earn on your journey. A needle can be used to pop blisters and sew garments, but be sure to sterilize it before use. If necessary, bring along a guide on first aid procedures. Make sure it has pain relievers, bandages, disinfectant, and notes on basic first aid procedures.
5. Water Purification System
Most people use a filter, but an inexpensive one can break or clog up. As water is the most essential item for survival, you should bring along a backup purification method, like a tiny bottle of iodine to remove any impurities and harmful bacteria.
For first time backpackers, it’s a good idea to consult other individuals who have traversed the area for pointers. Outside of your trusty gadgets, the most valuable tool for any backpacker is knowledge and experience, and relying on the wisdom of others can help you avoid the mistakes commonly made by novices.
Article by Claire Harris of CarHire.org – UK Car Hire. Claire writes on a wide range of travel topics including how to find the cheapest car hire in ibiza.