A backpacking checklist for crazy people

Do you hike trails that make most trekkers cringe? If so, this backpacking checklist might be for you.

Whether you’re planning a trek through serious bear country, navigating narrow, cliff-hugging terrain or plowing through a coastal trail during storm season, packing the right gear may help you get out of a tough situation unscathed.

If you’re looking for something that covers all the basics, such as a first aid kit, hiking socks and underwear that doesn’t ride up, you can find a general backpacking checklist as well. Click here for the printer-friendly pdf version.

But for those who are gearing up for a trek that’s especially challenging, here’s some stuff worth checking out before hitting the trail.

Tough wildlife defence

If you’re trekking in prime bear or cougar country in the spring, you may want a little extra protection. Think a gun is the most effective way to keep aggressive animals at bay? One recent study says otherwise. So depending on your situation, it may be better to employ a little non-lethal force instead.

Powerful bear spray
If you want one of the most powerful wildlife deterants around, look into Guard Alaska™ Bear Defense Spray. The makers behind this stuff say it’s the only bear spray registered with the EPA as a repellent for all species of bears. It’s got a range of up to 20 feet and may be the best bear spray out there.

Laser-sighted slingshot
Dennis the Menace meets Robocop. These upgraded devices provide sniper-like accuracy, which could send bears, cougars or whatever other animal that threatens you scurrying away. The Canadian Bear Smart Society recommends it as one form of bear defense, but don’t use anything larger than a golf ball and don’t aim at the creature’s face. And there are definitely some scary-looking slingshots out there.


Life-saving medical supplies

If you’re pushing the limits on the trail, there’s a chance you’re gonna get hurt. Most first aid kits don’t have the supplies needed to deal with a serious injury in the backcountry. So consider putting these beefed-up alternatives on your backpacking checklist.

Backcountry medical kit backpacking checklist- medical kit
The Adventure Medical Kits Adventure Medical Sportsman Grizzly Kit is designed for hunters and fisherman heading out for up to four glorious days in the wilderness. It’s designed for stabilizing sprains and stopping severe bleeding (such as from a gunshot wound). It weighs under a pound, so it shouldn’t weigh you down too much.  You can also check out the Adventure Medical Ultralight Pro First Aid Kit, which the manufacturer says contains enough medical aid to handle an emergency evacuation from the remote backcountry.

Venomous snake and bug-bite kit
The Sawyer Extractor Pump Kit has earned a solid reputation in the survival community. It uses a pump system much like a syringe to suck the venom out. Don’t think it guarantees survival after getting nipped from a lethal snake — it only improves your chances, depending on what got you. Works for wasp stings and other less serious bites as well.


Extreme weather gear

Waterproof hard shell jacket
Sometimes, a simple waterproof soft shell just doesn’t cut it. If you need an extremely durable jacket that will stand up to a torrential downpour, check out the Mountain Hardwear Jovian Hard Shell Jacket. This shell is tad heavy and stiff, but provides some of the best rain protection there is. Check out this article in Backpacker for a full review.

Hiking boots for the cold
Not matter what, you gotta protect your feet. That’s why it’s so important to get a pair of hiking boots designed for the cold if you’re trekking during the winter. The Garmont Men’s Momentum Snow GTX Snow Boot has earned a well-deserved reputation for being a top-ranked cold-weather backpacking boot. It’s light and agile yet fortified for extreme trekking.

Hydration bladders
A desert hike demands ample hydration with minimal effort. That’s where hydration bladders come in. One popular option is the CamelBak Thermobak, which can hold up to three litres of liquid. Proven toughness from a proven brand.

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About the author

Dustin Walker

Dustin Walker is a journalist, travel copywriter and editor/owner of Slick and Twisted Trails. Follow him on Twitter @dustinjaywalker


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