January 29, 2018

Whenever we head into the backcountry it is a good habit to pack essential items. Some of these are items that you probably won’t ever need or use on most trips, but if you are caught in the wilderness without them, you’ll wish you had them.

I find that if I organize these items into a ditty bag, it makes it easier to not forget them and I won’t be scrambling to find them when I am packing my pack the night before heading out to the backcountry.

Here is a list of essential items to carry on any trip to the backcountry, in order of most likely to use:


Sun Protection 

Protection against the sun is key throughout the year. Especially when venturing into the snow, it’s important to protect your vision from the sun rays reflecting off the ground.


You definitely do not want to get caught in the dark in the backcountry without a way to illuminate your path. Sure, nowadays we all carry a smartphone with a built-in flashlight, but it’ll be a lot easier to get around with a headlamp and you’ll save that precious battery life on your phone.



It’s important to always be prepared against the changing weather, you never know when rain or strong winds will hit. As any experienced backcountry adventurer will tell you, the weather forecast only goes so far as an indicator of what the weather will be like.


Extra food

Take it from me, you do not want to get caught in the wilderness without any food. If you are heading into the backcountry for a day or even for a few days, it doesn’t hurt to bring a little extra.



While a smartphone is an amazing tool to have in the backcountry, it should not be relied on as the only source of navigation. Knowing how to use a map and compass/GPS device is still an essential skill to have in the backcountry.



Always pack a little extra water, or if the area you are going into has plenty of water sources bring along a reliable way to filter your water.


First Aid Kit 

It goes without saying that a first aid kit can save your life. In addition to always bringing a first aid kit, learn about everything included in your kit and how to use it before venturing out.


Repair Kit and Multi-tool 

It happens more often than you might think – a hungry critter breaks into your backpack while you’re sleeping and chews through your pack straps or your sleeping pad gets a hole. Be prepared with a way to repair it.


Emergency Shelter

If you are going out into the backcountry for the day, chances are you won’t be bringing a tent or sleeping bag with you. Luckily, there are plenty of UL options for emergency shelters that won’t weigh you down and will easily fit into your day pack in case you get stranded somewhere and have to bivy for the night.


Fire Maker

It’s always a good idea to bring some sort of fire maker, whether it’s waterproof matches, or a lighter. You never know when you might need to make a fire to stay warm.