The Ultimate Guide To Backcountry Camping Gear


Backcountry camping refers to camping in remote, wilderness areas where there are no facilities or developed campsites. It typically involves carrying all of your gear and supplies on your back, and setting up camp in a natural setting. It can be a rewarding and immersive outdoor experience, allowing you to connect with nature and escape the crowds and distractions of everyday life.

Having the right gear is crucial for a successful and enjoyable backcountry camping trip. The right gear can make the difference between being comfortable and safe, or being cold, wet, and hungry. It is important to carefully research and select gear that is suitable for the type of trip you are planning, and that meets your personal needs and preferences. The right gear can also help you to minimize your impact on the environment, by following Leave No Trace principles and properly caring for your gear.

Backcountry Camping Shelter Options

When it comes to shelter options for backcountry camping, tents are a popular choice. There are a few key considerations when choosing a tent for backcountry camping:

  • Single vs. multi-person: If you are solo camping, a single-person tent will be lighter and more compact. If you are camping with a partner or group, a multi-person tent will give you more space and can be more comfortable.
  • Freestanding vs. non-freestanding: Freestanding tents have poles that support the structure of the tent, allowing you to set them up on a variety of surfaces without the need for stakes. Non-freestanding tents require stakes to hold their shape, but they can be lighter and more packable.
  • Material and durability: Choose a tent that is made from durable materials, such as high-quality nylon or polyester, and that has a good track record for standing up to wind and rain.

In addition to tents, tarps can be a good alternative shelter option for backcountry camping. Tarps are lightweight and versatile, and can be used as a simple shelter or as a rain fly for a tent. They can also be used to create a makeshift kitchen or dining area.

Sleeping pads and sleeping bags are also important considerations for backcountry camping. Sleeping pads provide insulation and cushioning, and can help to keep you warm and comfortable while sleeping on the ground. Sleeping bags come in a range of materials, shapes, and temperatures ratings, so it’s important to choose one that is suitable for the type of trip you are taking and the expected weather conditions.

Backcountry Packs

When it comes to backcountry packs, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind:

  • Types of backpacks: There are two main types of backpacks: internal frame and external frame. Internal frame packs have the frame built into the pack itself, and are generally more compact and streamlined. External frame packs have a separate frame that the pack attaches to, and are generally more durable and better suited for carrying heavy loads.
  • Capacity: Choose a pack with enough capacity to hold all of your gear and supplies for the length of your trip. Consider factors such as the size and number of items you need to bring, as well as the weather and expected conditions.
  • Size and fit: It’s important to choose a pack that fits well, as a poorly fitting pack can be uncomfortable and cause strain on your body. Consider factors such as the size of the pack (e.g. small, medium, large), as well as the length of the torso and the size and shape of the shoulder straps and hip belt.
  • Other pack considerations: Consider features such as water resistance, durability, and the presence of pockets and compartments to help keep your gear organized. Some packs also come with additional features such as a built-in rain cover or a hydration system.

Backcountry Cooking And Hydration Considerations

When it comes to cooking and hydration in the backcountry, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind:

  • Stove options: There are two main types of backpacking stoves: canister stoves and liquid fuel stoves. Canister stoves are lightweight and easy to use, but they can be more expensive and are not as fuel efficient as liquid fuel stoves. Liquid fuel stoves are more durable and fuel efficient, but they can be heavier and more complex to use. Consider factors such as the type of fuel you will have access to, the weight and size of the stove, and the number of people you need to cook for when choosing a stove.
  • Cookware: Choose lightweight and durable cookware that is suitable for the type of meals you will be preparing. Pot sizes and shapes will depend on the number of people you are cooking for and the size of your stove. Other useful items to bring may include a spoon, spatula, and bowl.
  • Water filtration and purification: It’s important to have a reliable way to filter and purify water in the backcountry, as untreated water can contain harmful bacteria and parasites. There are several options available, including water filters, purification tablets, and UV purifiers. Choose a method that is suitable for the type of water you will be accessing (e.g. clear vs. murky), and that is easy to use and maintain.

Other Essential Backcountry Camping Gear

In addition to shelter, packs, and cooking and hydration gear, there are a few other essential items to bring on a backcountry camping trip:

  • Navigation: It’s important to have a way to navigate and stay on track in the backcountry. A map and compass are essential, and a GPS device can also be useful. Make sure you know how to use these tools before you head out, and consider bringing a backup navigation method.
  • First aid kit: A well-stocked first aid kit is essential for any backcountry trip. It should include basic supplies such as bandages, gauze, adhesive tape, and over-the-counter medications. You may also want to include items such as a splint, insect repellent, and blister treatment.
  • Headlamp or flashlight: A headlamp or flashlight can be useful for seeing in low light conditions, and can be essential in case of an emergency. Choose a light that is bright, durable, and has a long battery life.
  • Emergency whistle and signaling device: An emergency whistle and signaling device (such as a mirror or flare) can be used to signal for help in case of an emergency. Make sure to bring these items and know how to use them.
  • Multi-tool or knife: A multi-tool or knife can be useful for a variety of tasks, such as preparing food, repairing gear, or cutting rope. Choose a tool that has a variety of functions and is durable and easy to use.

Backcountry Camping Optional Gear

In addition to essential gear, there are a few optional items that you may want to bring on a backcountry camping trip:

  • Clothes and layers: It’s important to dress in layers when camping in the backcountry, as the weather can vary greatly. Choose moisture-wicking, breathable layers that can be added or removed as needed. Consider bringing extra layers for cold or wet conditions, as well as a waterproof outer layer.
  • Footwear: Choose sturdy, supportive footwear that is appropriate for the type of terrain and conditions you will be facing. Hiking boots or trail runners are generally a good choice for backcountry camping.
  • Comfort items: Depending on your personal preferences, you may want to bring a few comfort items to make your trip more enjoyable. These could include items such as a camp chair, hammock, or portable speaker. Just be sure to consider the weight and space these items will take up in your pack.

Conclusion: The Ultimate Guide To Backcountry Camping Gear

In conclusion, it’s important to choose the right gear for your backcountry camping trip in order to have a safe and enjoyable experience. Essential gear includes items such as a tent or shelter, pack, stove and cookware, and navigation and first aid supplies. Optional gear includes items such as clothes and layers, comfort items, and extra navigation tools.

It’s important to research and consider your personal needs and preferences when choosing gear. Consider factors such as the type of trip you are taking, the expected weather and conditions, the number of people you will be with, and your budget.

Remember to always follow Leave No Trace principles when using gear in the backcountry. This means respecting the environment and minimizing your impact on it, by properly disposing of waste, staying on designated trails, and leaving natural features undisturbed. By following these principles, you can help to preserve the beauty and integrity of the backcountry for future generations.