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Ask a handful of avid backpackers what their favorite thing about backpacking is and you’ll likely get a number of different answers. One might talk about the beautiful, pristine country he or she gets to see on a regular basis. Another might recall a special backcountry campsite that few others have ever used. Yet another might mention a fantastic vista that took his or her breath away when rounding a corner on a trail for the very first time. The fact is, backpacking is a wonderful activity with many great benefits. Don’t leave for your next backpacking trip without these essential pieces of gear.

For a Comfy Snooze

It’s than a pound and can be packed down to the size of a thin water bottle. Sleepingo

A good sleeping pad is where many backpackers tend to skimp on their purchases, instead putting money into top-quality tents and sleeping bags. But the importance of a sleeping pad can’t be overstated, so skimp on this item at your own peril. It’s hard to have a good time—or get a good night’s sleep—when you can feel every rock, root or small piece of vegetation underneath your sleeping bag. Look for a very lightweight sleeping pad that airs up to 2- or 3-inches thick, then packs back down into a tiny package after being deflated. Many good sleeping pads pack down into a bag about the size of a soda can. Since good sleep is essential to having a good time if you are spending several days on the trail, put lots of thought into this purchase.

For Safe Drinking

The product will remove more than 99.9 percent of bacteria and protozoan parasites in H2O. LifeStraw

Of all the things you can’t live without while on the trail, fresh water is right at the top of the list. Unfortunately, water is also one of the heaviest things you can take along and can weigh you down more than just about anything else you carry with you. The remedy to this problem is to purify existing water rather than carrying your own. Of the different ways to purify water, filtration is perhaps the simplest and most effective. Water filters include an internal element or cartridge that has microscopic pores that catch debris, protozoa, and bacteria as the water is filtered through it. Many filters also include activated carbon in their elements to remove unpleasant tastes. Different types of filters include pump filters, gravity filters, bottle filters, squeeze filters, and straw-style filters.

Also Consider

This one can be used at home and on the road. First Aid Only

While you won’t need it on every backpacking trip, and good first aid kit can be worth its weight when the necessity arises. Common injuries or health problems on the trail fall into three different categories—sprains and strains; cuts and burns; and hypothermia or hyperthermia. A good first aid kit should have the basic items needed to treat each type of injury or malady. Treat sprains and strains with an ice pack and elastic bandage. Cuts and burns require alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, antibiotic cream or burn gel, and some kind of bandage for a covering. For hypothermia, or extremely low body temperature, a space blanket or other insulative covering is a necessity. For hyperthermia, or extremely high body temperature, an ice pack applied in the neck, groin, and armpit areas is helpful for lowering body temperature back to a safe level.