Choosing the best equipment for hiking and backpacking depends on where the group is going, the skill of the participants and the budget. Backpacking in the winter will require vastly different equipment than an afternoon hike in a regional park. Backpackers will want equipment that is light and easy to use. Quality equipment can be expensive, but some items are often available to rent. Consumers may want to compare a variety of manufacturers before making a final choice.
Equipment will vary according to the time of year and the location of the trip. A summer trip in the mountains will require warm weather gear as temperatures can drop quickly at night. Winter camping and hiking requires special gear that is not needed in the summer. Summer trips will require items that can resist rain and wind. For example, a summer camping trip will require a tent that can be easily staked down and has a rain fly to keep the contents dry if needed. ALPS manufactures a wide variety of quality tents for all types of camping. Experienced hikers and campers will make a list of all items that will be needed and then ask some ‘what if’ questions to add emergency gear. The best equipment is equipment that is easy to use and doesn’t break.
Some equipment is easier to use than others and some is designed for individuals rather than large groups. For example, there are many different types of water filtration systems available. Some of these systems require pumping water by hand, which may not be the best idea for a large group as this method requires a lot of time for the amount of water it produces. Review all instructions for equipment thoroughly before investing. Whenever possible use the equipment on a real trip to see how it works. This can be done by borrowing from a friend or renting equipment from a retailer or outfitter. There are many such businesses, particularly in areas that are frequented by campers and hikers. Trying out equipment will allow consumers to determine what works best for them.
Individuals and families interested in camping should budget for purchasing specific items. Many large items such as tents, sleeping bags and cooking gear can be several hundred dollars for each. It is worth spreading out these purchases. Compare quality brands such as Coleman, REI, The North Face and Osprey when shopping. Ask other experienced hikers and campers what they recommend and compare prices before purchasing. Don’t skimp on items such as air mattresses, water filtration systems or backpacks as these will greatly impact the entire trip. REI makes a camp bed that self-inflates and is very light to carry. PUR makes a water filter system called the Hiker and it has received positive reviews from TheBackpacker.com. Osprey makes quality backpacks for hikers.
Quality equipment is important to make every trip enjoyable. Consumers should shop around at reputable retailers to find deals on the best equipment for hiking and camping for their needs.