Last week we embarked on the most relaxing form of the camping trip - the transport-your-house-into-the-woods weekend, which involves a lot of boozing, nature smashing, and general laziness all in the name of fresh air. I'm a huge advocate of this trip—it's notoriously entertaining and hugely relaxing, but sometimes after 50+ hours in a desk chair, it's time to stretch those legs and get some real exercise. This week we are going on a hiking trip, so stop reading now if the idea of trying to summit a mountain gives you the urge to roll over and reach for the bong. If you don't already have a tent, sleeping bag, and a good pair of hiking boots, explore those links and find one that fits your budget and needs. Now for the stuff you'll need to plant your flag on the first nameless peak you can find on the trail map.
A real hiking trip entails actually carrying all your gear with you and not just piling everything into the trunk and spilling it into the campsite when you park. You need everything to fit in a comfortable, lightweight backpack so that you can walk, climb, and scramble your way to the top of a mountain. A good weekend pack has roughly 3000-4500 cubic inches of space inside. You have to plan on carrying foot, clothing, a tent, sleeping bag, and other tools all the way to your destination and back. It sounds a lot worse than it really is, I promise. Here are some awesome weekend packs.
Highly under-appreciated, enormously important. Everyone seems to forget that there are no light switches out in the woods, and using a lighter to function is not a fun way to make it through the nighttime hours. You don't need to go over the top with this purchase, just find a lighter with a few different settings for different darkness levels and a good solid battery that you won't have to worry about dying on you. Here are a bunch of great headlamp options.
Food & Stoves
Food can be tricky when you've got limited space in your pack and you need to bring multiple days worth of nourishment. The easiest thing to do is pack things like granola bars, trail mix, fruit, peanut butter, english muffins, and beef jerky. No bro I know could survive very long on that diet, so I'd suggest a good stove. A stove gives you the ability to rapid-boil water, which opens up a whole world of delicious camping food. Breakfast is transformed into hot cocoa and oatmeal, lunch is a nice hearty soup, and dinner is a freeze-dried feast. Check out some of these affordable stoves and surprisingly tasty food options and live like a king in the woods. The Chili Mac with Beef from Mountain House also tastes good after hours on the trail (it says two servings, but you won't be splitting).
Water & Cookware
You have to think of the woods like Mexico: Don't drink the water. If you've got your stove, you can boil water and that will kill bacteria and other things like giardia (beaver fever = bad news) but who wants to stop mid-hike and break out all that equipment just for a quick gulp of water. The solution is a water bottle + purifier system. They're affordable, and you can fill a bottle, let it purify, and then transfer that water and repeat the process. Dinner time is going to require a few tools to prepare a meal, and a simple nested cookware set will help you with everything from preparation to eating and cleaning up. Check out some other water purification systems and cookware sets here.
Maps & Navigation
Don't leave the car thinking that your iPhone will spit out turn-by-turn directions when you type "top of Mount Liberty" into your Maps app. You absolutely need a trail map, and if you're new to backcountry adventures, you should get a GPS device too. They are some really helpful tools out there, like the Garmin Rino 120 which lets you save up to 8mb worth of trail data, talk to other FRS radio users, and beam your exact location to anyone in a 2 mile radius. If you think you might not be slick enough to manage the directions, bring someone who knows the area or bring one of these devices. Check out some handy trail maps and more versatile GPS devices. Don't be that dude who gets lost in the woods.
You can buy all these camping essentials through www.activejunky.com and you'll earn cash back on every purchase you make, which is nice because this gear can get expensive.