Field Guide: Backpacking Essentials with Jeremiah
Posted on September 10 2016
By Jeremiah Reiner
The mountains are calling and so are your friends. You’re a little intimidated and curious about where to begin when choosing the right equipment for your 1st or 10th excursion into what will be a new found means of freedom and self expression. Let me guide you through the over saturated market of outdoor equipment manufacturers vying for your loyalty and wallet.
It all starts with your backpack. Mess up this purchase and your body will be miserable! Get a fit that’s right and discover the freedom to adventure wherever your mind and body desire. Osprey has been around for 40yrs, they currently dominate the market but for a good reason. Fit! For this reason I recommend the Aura AG 65/Atmos AG 65. Their fit is second to none with Ospreys own Anti-gravity system, which automatically adjusts to the natural curvature of your back. They also have a sleek design with plenty of features to organize your life while on the trail.
*Image courtesy of Osprey Backpacks
Everyone has his or her own fantasy of Shangri-La. For me it’s where ever my tent is pitched. Get your mind out of the gutter… Finding a tent that is light and functional is easier said than done. Lot’s of designs look great on the showroom floor yet quite literally flop when mother nature enters the picture. Look no further than the Mountain Safety Research(MSR) Hubba Hubba NX 2 Person Backpacking Tent. Coming in at 3.5lbs this tent is light yet spacious. It boasts plenty of space for you and your companion, as well as twin doors with vestibules. No need to climb over your partner when nature calls at 3am.
*Image courtesy of MSR
#3 Sleeping bag
We spend 1/3 of our lives sleeping. I try to sleep outside more often than not. Why? It’s invigorating to wake up to sunlight filtering through a canopy of trees or hearing a loon call on the shores of a misty placid lake. Sleeping comfort is essential to make your morning one of awe and not one of frustration because you were too cold or clammy. Enter the world of Rab. A UK company that has been producing kick ass sleeping bags for over 40yrs. Their series of bags are second to none. Offering the best waterproof down on the market combined with down proof fabrics. You will never see feathers creeping out the shell of these bags. I recommend either the Neutrino 400 or 600 models depending on how warm/cold you get.
*Image courtesy of Rab
# 4 Pad
Finding a flat spot is easier said than done in the backcountry. Luckily sleeping pads have evolved over the years and now you are literally sleeping on a cushion of air. Therm-A-Rest has been the pinnacle of quality and comfort. They set the bar and continue to redefine comfort while keeping weight and size to a minimum. The Neo Air All Season takes the cake for versatility, comfort and warmth. It’s 2.5in thick so even side sleepers can relax knowing that they will sleep soundly.
*Image courtesy of Therm-a-rest
# 5 Stove
Gourmet cooking in the backcountry is no easy feat. Most stoves can boil water and simmer food. Reliability is key when starting out. For this reason I recommend the MSR PocketRocket. It uses fuel canisters, is easy to light with matches a lighter or my favorite a flint stick. Plus unlike the PocketRocket’s bigger siblings, there is very little maintenance. Oh and just as the name implies it can indeed fit into your pocket.
*Also Cedar Ravine Hand warmers are great for those chilly mornings where you still want your digits free to do some boiling! Super soft and coz with a snug fit, these USA made hand warmers are a sweet outdoor accessory.
# 6 Water Purification
Back in my formative years allot of time was spent strengthening my forearms…while purifying water that is! The finicky and bulky water filters of my youth have now been replaced by lightweight and easy to use systems with next to no moving parts. Sawyer has led the charge with their Mini Water Filtration System. Weighing in at a mere 2oz this little guy packs a big punch. Besides being easy to use and fast, it can filter bacteria, protozoa, E. Coli, Giardia, Vibrio Cholerea, Salmonella Typhi.
*Image courtesy of Sawyer
# 7 Headlamp
I bought my first headlamp at the age of 12. It didn’t give off much light and had replaceable bulbs! Fast forward 20yrs to modern LED lights and the difference is literally night and day. Lighting companies keep boosting the lumens and adding other neat but unnecessary features like computer programmable output. I’m one for simplicity and reliability. The Black Diamond Storm Headlamp is relatively inexpensive, offers 250lumens in a waterproof housing and it runs on 4AAA batteries. Don’t pull an epic without one of these in your pack.
*Also, Cedar Ravine super soft and cozy beanie goes great with these headlamps! A light weight and double lined, beanie, it gives you the warmth without the bulk.
This is merely a baseline of what to bring and I encourage you to do your own research prior to forking over you hard earned cash. So gear up and answer to the call of adventure. Happy Travels!
Jeremiah Reiner Bio:
Jeremiah grew up in the Adirondack High Peaks region of upstate NY. He spent his childhood building a spiritual bond with mountains, lakes, and rivers. These formative years shaped his life and sent him on a path to become an Outdoor Educator. He has worked in Colorado, Utah and Washington State instructing a wide array of outdoor activities such as hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, sea kayaking, canoeing, backcountry skiing and mountain biking. He currently resides in Western North Carolina and works for a mental health non-profit. You can find him mountain biking in Pisgah or trail running across one of the many balds that dot the skyline of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Be sure to check out Jeremiah's mission, @rideabovedepression. He aims to combine the power of therapeutic movement, holistic wellness and community building to assist individuals with depression. Rock on friend!
Interested in becoming a Cedar Ravine friend? We would love to hear from you!