PETER POTTERFIELD, Journalist
Recommended Gear and Clothing for Backcountry Travel
I believe it essential for backcountry safety and enjoyment that each hiker has proven wilderness gear and clothing. Economizing on the equipment that protects while you are in the wilderness is seldom a good idea. You've got to be certain that the gear you have will enable you to hunker down safely in unexpectedly dangerous conditions, or your layers and outerwear are what you need to walk out in heavy weather. Having both is preferable.
“ I can personally attest to the gear described here. ”
- Peter Potterfield
Backcountry gear is an order of magnitude better now than it was even 10 years ago. Tents are lighter yet stronger, sleeping bags lighter and warmer, mattresses lighter but more comfortable, stoves are more reliable, and smaller, but quicker to boil water.
Clothing has seen equal advances in both fabric and design. Synthetics and wool have made base and mid layers more comfortable while performing better; fleece and lightweight "puffy jackets" of both down and synthetic fill provide incredible warmth per ounce, and shell fabrics and design have reduced weight but increased performance.
Boots have perhaps seen the biggest improvement. Innovative waterproof membranes, designs that protect your feet, and most of all, out-of-the-box comfort characterize the best in backcountry footwear these days.
Some months each year I spend more nights in a tent than in a house. On all of those backcountry trips I constantly try new gear: clothing, tents, tarps, sleeping bags, pads, stoves, base layers, mid layers, insulating layers, shells, boots and other essential equipment. By using it, I know what works and what doesn't.
I can personally attest to the gear described here. If it's on the list, I have used it in the backcountry in trying conditions, and have been pleased with the performance. The gear may be ultra high end, it may be value priced, it may be newfangled, it may be old school, but all of it works in the backcountry and has proven itself in the field.
The gear recommended here may not be the newest available. I won't recommend a piece of gear until I have used it multiple times in varying conditions and come away impressed. So stay tuned for constant updates on gear recommended for any of the Classic Hikes of the World, or the Classic Hikes of North America.