15 Essential Pieces of Gear for Wilderness Travel

There are few things better than taking a nice, extended trek into the great outdoors. But what can make that trek even greater? The right gear. While everyone has their individual comforts they like to bring, these are 15 essential items that you shouldn’t leave the trailhead without.

Photo By: Thomas Milam, Kelty

Photo By: Big Agnes

Photo By: Fjallraven

Photo By: Live Out There

Photo By: LifeStraw

Photo By: The Camp Chef

Photo By: Black Diamond Equipment

Photo By: Shutterstock/motandr

Photo By: Shutterstock/Gearstd

Photo By: Mountainsmith

Photo By: Roka

Photo By: Saxx

Photo By: Matt Trappe / Vasque Footwear

Photo By: Adventure Medical Kits


It all starts with the right shelter. You’re going to want something that’s lightweight with minimal setup. The Kelty Horizon 2 weighs in at 3 pounds and 10 ounces with a hybrid one-piece design and even includes an option to set up an awning extending from the frame. That extra bit of cover will come in handy during sun-piercing days and rainy nights.

Sleeping Bag

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. You’ll want to be warm and comfortable wherever you (or Mother Nature) decides to set up camp. Big Agnes bags are built to last and some can be paired with their sleeping pads for an integrated sleeping experience.


They don’t call it "backpacking" for nothing. The key here is to visit your local outdoor store and be properly fit with a bag that’s sized for your body. Fjallraven’s Kajka 65 is a great choice with a support system for even weight distribution and a number of other adventure-friendly features.

Mid Layer

Once you get moving on the trail, your body temperature will rise as you move up mountains and start crushing miles. A solid mid-layer jacket is important for breathable coverage while keeping you protected from the elements. Live Out There’s Joffre Synthetic Insulator checks off all of the boxes with a DWR coating, durable construction and a price point that won’t break the bank.

Water Filter

LifeStraw’s whole model is based on bringing clean, accessible water to as many people as possible. The only thing more expansive than their filter lineup is the company’s philanthropic efforts around the world. Their Flex filter is an excellent option for trekking.

Compact Stove

Second only to clean water is having a quick way of boiling it in a no-fuss setup. The Camp Chef Stryker 100 puts a 1.3-liter volume in a package that can heat half a liter of water in two minutes. The sturdy handle is crucial too for stirring in whatever you have on hand. The best part of stoves like these is everything folds into itself and right back into your bag.

Outer Shell Jacket

There’s nothing worse than being unprepared when the weather turns. Be sure to have a waterproof shell like the Black Diamond StormLine Stretch that has a high-quality DWR coating and can be put on — and taken off — in a flash.

Pocket Knife

A good pocket knife is worth its weight in gold and its uses are endless. Look for one that has a sturdy hinge and a good grip.


The adventurer’s best friend.

Trekking Poles

Beyond adjusting your posture, poles are great for extra grip, especially in wintery conditions. The Halite 7075s from Mountainsmith are an excellent combo of grip and portability with a cork/EVA handle and a 16" collapsible length for travel.


You’ll be looking to shed weight anywhere you can in your pack, and surprisingly, you can do just that with your eyewear. Roka’s line of ultralight specs were built for elite athletes, and you can benefit from all of that research. Their styles are slick, sharp and some weigh less than an ounce.


For men, Saxx underwear is the new gold standard. They feature the support and moisture-wicking material you need on long treks. For women, ExOfficio has excellent choices in a variety of styles that feature their time-tested endurance technology.

Cookware Set

A decent set of portable utensils is a creature comfort you’ll be glad you brought. This 24-piece set from GSI Outdoors includes everything you need to get started, and it all folds neatly back into a carrying case when you’re done.


Since you’ll be crushing miles all day long, your choice of footwear is incredibly important. Vasque has an excellent range of options from the stylish Sundowner to the utility of the Saga. This is another one where it’s imperative to try on and walk around in a variety of boots to see what’s best for you.

First Aid Kit

This is the item you hope to never use, but it’s vital to have. Adventure Medical Kits offers several different options based on the intensity and remoteness of your adventure.

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