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Beginner’s Guide to Outdoor Gear – Beyond the Basics

Hiking Gear – Hiking Essentials for Beginners

Hiking and backpacking gear is one of my favorite things.  Seriously.  When I had to spend a big chunk of money recently on a non-hiking purchase, I grumbled as the woman behind the counter rang me up.  She asked what was wrong and I said “Oh, I was just thinking about how much hiking gear I could buy for that price.”  I have had so much fun over the last several years outfitting myself for hiking, winter hiking and backpacking.  It certainly comes at a price, but it’s been worth every penny.  The one thing that I hadn’t expected when getting outfitted, however, were all of the items I needed for my pack that you wouldn’t think about initially and that that don’t cost much (or anything at all) beyond the Ten Essentials. So – here you have it – What’s In Your Pack? Outdoor Gear – Beyond the Basics.

I asked my experienced hiking friends and outdoor enthusiasts what outdoor gear they can’t live without in their pack for day hikes and overnights in all seasons.  I asked them to think beyond the 10 essentials to the unexpected, creative items that I knew they were all carrying in their backpack.  This is what they came up with, plus a few of my favorites!

Zip Ties and Copper Wire– Pick these items up at your local hardware or big box store, or use our Amazon referral links in this post.  They come in handy for a variety of hiking and backpacking gear fixes (think MacGyver).  My friend Jim has used zip ties on the trail to repair broken microspikes and snowshoe bindings.  Copper Wire can also aid in the repair of bindings.  Zip Ties can aid in attaching gear to your pack and can help extend fly loops on your tent to the hooks on tent platforms.  I could go on and on about the many uses, but you get the idea. Grab ties of varying sizes and some wire and get them in your pack asap.

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Self-stick Velcro- VELCROis a light tool can also aid in equipment repairs on the trail, say a broken zipper on a coat or a broken tent or sleeping bag zipper.  Having these in your backpack will ensure you are prepared and can help out another hiker in need.

Dryer Lint and Candle Wax– These “free” items can help with firestarting in a pinch.  Dryer lint is exceptionally light and helps when you can’t find dry tinder items in the forest.  Dip a few cotton balls in your used candle wax and they can be used to fuel your fire and also helps if you can’t find dry items to burn in your surroundings.

Miniature microscope– A Mini Microscope can be used for starting a fire and to identify mushrooms if you need to forage while out in the wild.

Tampons- these are helpful for stopping nose bleeds and if you happen to hike with a bunch of chicks, are never a bad idea.  These can also be used for firestarters too if the need arises.  I keep these in my backpack at all times.

Trash Bag- This can serve to keep the gear in your backpack dry in the event of heavy precipitation and can also stand in as an emergency tarp if you are stranded on the trail.

Extra Shoe Laces- Your shoes are one of your most important pieces of gear.  Having an extra pair of shoelaces is never a bad idea.  They can also be used for aiding in other camp repairs as well.

Krazy Glue– Think of this like duct tape. Endless uses on the trail and a key piece for your MacGyver kit. Krazy Glue

Rescue Remedy Pearls– If you haven’t heard of Rescue Remedy before, you’ll be so happy to know now.  This homeopathic blend of natural items helps reduce stress and calm nerves.  It comes in a spray, cream, drops and lozenges, but the pearls are light and fit nicely in your first aid kit.  I have used these before when a hiking companion was having a panic attack on a particularly challenging stretch of trail, and DD uses them every time she goes over the Knife’s Edge. .

Imodium AD- Ever been 10 miles from the trailhead and had an emergency? Well, I haven’t and I hope to avoid it at all costs.  I put these in my pack after my friend told me a story about an unfortunate time when she was hiking up the Owl’s Head slide.  I love a good cautionary tale to make my backpack more well-rounded. Check this out – Imodium A-D Liquid, 8 Oz

Benadryl- This may be a no brainer, but helps for bug bites, stings, allergic reactions and can help you become drowsy if you’re struggling to get to sleep and you have a big day ahead. Check this out – Benadryl Allergy Ultratabs Tablets, 100 Count

I hope you enjoyed our outdoor gear hacks!

What are some of your pack must-haves?  Have you been saved by one of these items? We’d love to hear about it!  Tell us in the comments below.

Here’s to safe travels where you never have to put this outdoor gear to use!


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