This isn’t your glamping, festival-going, soft-core camping kit. The ultimate backcountry camping kit is ultra lightweight, exchanging the hippy, free-love vibes for a more hardened, business-only mantra. Not only should your backcountry camping kit be lightweight, but it should also tick the boxes next to quality and durability — because the last thing you want is for your gear to fail 50 miles from civilization. The gear on this list is the best of the best, designed to take on the heavy rains of the Cascades, the stark landscape of the Southwest, the high winds and snow of the Presidentials, or if you’re lucky, the sunny skies of Los Padres National Forest. This gear does no good sitting in a closet or being used to commute to and from your ball-and-chain nine-to-five. This gear is built for the escape. For the five-day trek into the unknown. It’s built for the explorer and the adventurer. Take it outside and put it to the test.
The Most Important Pieces
It makes sense that your tent, sleeping bag and pad are often the first things you shove into (or strap onto) your backpack, and they’re the foundation on which you’ll pack everything else. They’re also often the largest items in your pack, and sometimes the heaviest. For this reason, the two most important things to consider when packing these items is to find pieces that are lightweight and compressible. If they’re not, either your back and legs will take a beating or your pack won’t have enough room for the other stuff, like food, tools or a precious flask of bourbon. This tenet holds true whether you’re conquering a two-week expedition or a two-day hiking loop.
Anjan 2 GT Tent by Hilleberg $725
Double Z Sleeping Pad by Big Agnes $80+
Down Hugger 900 #2 Sleeping Bag by Mont Bell $560
Echo II Tarp by Hyperlite Mountain Gear $320
4400 Windrider by Hyperlite Mountain Gear $365
A Touch of Class for Your Kit
Keeping time while out on the trail is crucial, and if you’re going to wear a watch it might as well come with an outdoor pedigree and heritage styling. Filson’s Smokey Bear watch will help you keep time no matter what environment you’re in, and it also comes with a friendly reminder that only you can prevent wildfires. It’s built in the Shinola Factory in Detroit and is limited to only 1,000 products. The watch also comes with a selection of Smokey Bear accessories including six postcards with reimagined Smokey Bear posters on them. Buy Now: $1,000
You’d Be Lost Without Them
This is not gear to stash away in the bottom of your pack. It’s the goods to keep right near the top, easy to grab by simply zipping open the pack, reaching in and yanking it out. They should be built strong and be reliable with frequent use. And if it’s a tool you don’t think you’ll use more than once (or one that won’t save your life), leave it at home. The space in your pack should not be wasted.
Alpha Light Utensil Set by Sea to Summit $19
Alp Trainer Mid GTX Hiking Boot by Salewa $185
Beartooth by Beartooth $200+
Micro Vario Carbon DSS Trekking Poles by Leki $220
Miniworks EX Microfilter by MSR $90
Trek Combo Titanium Cookset by Snow Peak $83
Ultralight Dry Sack by Outdoor Research $11+
Whisperlite International Stove by MSR $100