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While even a modest venture at a commercial campsite can awaken the thrill of sleeping under the stars, there’s something to be said for the solitude of some backcountry camping. These serene places may only be a few miles further along a trail, but reveal an entirely different world for those more confident in their outdoor abilities. Far from the sound of cars or any cell of wi-fi reception, this level of camping can both challenge and enhance your skills. Our Intermediate Camping Gear Guide aims to dull the difficulties of the outdoors while sharpening your enjoyment.
This gear list is for several nights in the woods, hiking in, where there may or may not be potable water available nearby. Weather is more difficult to plan for on a stretch like this, so plan for everything. Being prepared for the worst case scenario will allow you to make the most out of any situation. If you’re looking for something a little less…in tents, may we suggest our Novice Camping Gear Guide, or our Glamping-friendly New Camping Gear Guide.
- Rain Cover
- Map (Always check in with the nearest Ranger station. It’s smart, safe, and sociable. Rangers have tons of great stories to tell.)
- Paracord Rope
- Gear Bags
- Utility Tool
- Trash Bags
- Camp Saw
- Hatchet and/or Ax
- Water Bottles: Plan on consuming roughly 32oz per hour of hiking.
- Flashlight (Protip: Shining a flashlight through a water bottle will refract the light and illuminate whole tents or provide a diffused glow to cook by as it gets dark.)
- Spare Batteries
- Saved Ranger’s Number
- Backup Battery/Charger/Solar Charger
- Fire Kit (Always be mindful of regulations regarding fire safety.)
- First Aid Kit
- Ground Cloth (Some heavy plastic drop cloth cut to size is perfect.)
- Tent Attic
- Sleeping Bag
- Sleeping Pad
- Camp Pillow
As long as Mother Nature continues to keep access to her thermostat under lock and key, maintaining a level of comfort will continue to come down to preparation. Your wardrobe acts as your personal climate control in the great outdoors. Utilizing layers allows you to face the bitter cold of the mornings and still stay cool in the blazing midday sun.
- Hiking Boots
- Camp Shoes and/or Sandals
- Wet Shoes (They are money well spent, providing a means of foot support, lowering the risk of blisters and protecting against potentially disastrous trail-side disintegration.)
- Wicking Shirts
- Sock Liners
- Wool Socks
- Sleeping Clothes: It may be an extra pound or two, but having something that doesn’t smell like woodsmoke and is guaranteed to be free of poison ivy is worth it.
- Long-Sleeved Shirt
- Long Underwear (Those nights at high altitudes are literally frosty, and you’ll probably want to answer the call of the wild before that has a chance to burn off.)
- Microfiber Towel
- Raingear (Full Suit)
These will be some of the heaviest elements in your pack. With that said, remember that you’re not carrying most of it back out. There is very little more satisfying than animal protein cooked over a fire. Dehydrated and freeze-dried meals work, but they’re no substitute for cooking fresh. If you’re only camping for a few days, it’s more than possible to give them a miss. We recommend it.
- Bear bag (This doesn’t have to be too fancy. So long as it holds all of your food and can be hoisted over a high branch, you’re solid. Remember that nature’s creatures were here first. Be smart and be kind, but most of all, be careful. A curious bear can leave you starving or worse.)
- Rope: Heavy Duty
- Cook Kit
- Tea and/or Cocoa
- Smaller Water Bottles
- Beer (Protip: If you’re camping near water, you can place cans in it for use as a rudimentary cooler.)
- Trail Snacks (Be aware of where you are in relation to animals. If you’ve just seen some bear scat, maybe don’t break out the trail mix just yet!)
- Peanut Butter
- Cured Meat
- Kind Bars
- Gorp/Trail Mix
- Dr. Bronner’s Soap
- Reusable Dish Cloth (These are a must for both camp and home kitchens.)
- Wet Naps
Our bodies aren’t as tightly wound to the rhythms of the sun as they once were. Sometimes the trappings of the modern age can make it difficult to fall asleep. A few games of cards or a couple of chapters is a nice way to decompress after your day.
In the woods, less is more. While we’re big fans of not scaring each other off with offensive body odor, chemical deodorant is a bad call out in the woods. Animals are interested in new smells, and scented lotions, deodorants, and perfumes are sure to intrigue. If you’re looking to avoid a truly wild experience, you’ll have to get a little untamed.
- Biodegradable Toilet Paper
- Dr. Bronner’s Soap
- Ziploc Bag(s)
- Unscented Lotions and Skin Care Products
The devil is often in the details when it comes to anything. In camping, a simple oversight can ruin a trip. Remember to triple-check your list and gear, then feel free to add those little extras that can make the trip truly special.
- Rescue Whistle (Bears hate high-pitched noises.)
- Bug spray
- Portable Seat (Because you’re worth it.)
This gear list covers just about everything you would need for some backcountry camping. Woodsmen-in-training may also want to check out our Advanced Camping Gear Guide. Our Novice Camping Gear Guide can provide direction for those just starting to outfit themselves and if you’re looking to make the most a day hike or two, with some glamping, we’ve got you covered with our Camping Gear Guide for Newbies.