If you're new to backpacking, just thinking about how to choose the right gear can be rather daunting. The market is saturated with products that serve a variety of purposes, so figuring out what works best for you will depend on your current abilities and future goals. As your skills progress you will find that your preference and need for gear will also evolve. The following pages are a resource for you to explore and learn as you prepare for new adventures.
Backpacking 101 is an overview of the the standard practices followed by all respectful backpackers, to include always being prepared with at least the Ten Essentials and practicing Leave No Trace outdoor ethics.
Gear 101 details the basic gear you need before you head out into the backcountry - your pack, sleeping set-up, cook kit, hydration system, clothing, and various items to help you have a positive outdoors experience.
Trail Food 101 discusses nutrition and hydration in the backcountry in order to ensure your health and well-being.
How To's are informative videos to demonstrate various skills for cooking, packing, setting up your tent, cleaning your gear, you name it.
Community is a compilation of hiking forums, Social Media groups and professional organizations for you to explore.
In just getting started, as long as you have the essentials, there is no "right" or "wrong" item to pack. As this is your outdoors experience, you are entitled to bring a luxury item, like a camp chair, so long as you are willing to carry the weight. The trade-off in backpacking is between carrying less to potentially go farther, faster or carrying "unnecessary" weight. Both methods have their pro's and con's - a hiker going "ultralight" might not be as comfortable without those extra layers of clothing, and a hiker carrying a few additional items might end up traveling at a slower rate compared to the minimalist.
As long as you are comfortable with carrying the weight of what you pack, you can bring as few or as many items (in addition to the essentials!) as you think will suit your needs. And if you find you want to add a few items or leave a few things at home, you can adjust the contents of your pack accordingly for your next trip.
Backpacking is a learning process, and it's going to take time and experience for you to develop your preferred style of backpacking and become acquainted with the industry's myriad of gear options. Be sure to always pack the 10 essentials & overnight supplies, leave your trip plan with a trusted friend back home, and apply "Leave No Trace" principles while in the backcountry.
Happy hiking, and here's to many miles to go before you sleep.