As you prepare for your first backpacking trip, you are going to need more than just a backpack! Continuing on from Part One lets look at the rest of the Big 3: sleep systems and shelters.
Choosing a Sleep System
A sleep system comprises of a sleeping bag, or quilt, and a sleeping mat. The mat is what keeps you from losing body-heat to the ground. The sleeping bag keeps a pocket of warm air around the rest of your body to keep you comfortable and warm. That way you can recover from the day’s hike. Down is the best insulator but doesn’t deal well with moisture. Whereas, synthetic fills are cheaper and more moisture resistant; although they are heavier and don’t pack as small. It’s best practice to use a sleeping bag liner to keep your bag clean and add extra warmth.
You can get a simple foam sleeping mat that will get you through three seasons. Eventually you may need something warmer, but just get something so you can start your adventure! If you want luxury, get an inflatable pillow. If you like to keep it simple, use your clothes sack as a pillow.
Choosing a shelter
A shelter is anything that you use to protect yourself from the elements when you sleep. Many light-weight backpackers will use a tarp system, but most people start with a tent. Starting out it is easiest to use a free-standing tent compared to a tunnel tent. National parks often have tent platforms and freestanding tents are easier to use on those. Although, for winter camping, a tunnel tent will deal with snow and wind better. This is the item that will keep you and your gear waterproof through the night.
Try and get one that is as light as possible as this is often the most heavy piece in your kit. You should be able to get a two or thee person tent that weighs less than 3kg to start with. They get much lighter, but just get something robust and functional to start with.
Now, pick your destination and plan for your first big adventure!
Once you have acquired your Big 3, everything else is just filling in the gaps. Shortly I will be releasing my full Three Passes Trek packing list over on my blog. If you have any questions feel free to send them my way!
Coach Josh Wood, BHSc, is a fitness coach and outdoorsman who brings together fitness training and the real world. Working as a Wilderness Guide in Tasmania, he strives to help people find their passion for activity, and loves introducing folks to the art of backpacking.
To follow his adventures head over to @coachjoshwood