As you may know, I had never camped or hiked (much) before Mr. Bird hiked into my life. At that juncture, my so-called hiking experiences were relegated to tiny strolls around the Appalachian Trail , or walking long city blocks in Manhattan (*in platform heels, I might add!). My outdoorsy-ness has increased dramatically because of him. I would not, however, call myself a real "nature" girl. In fact, I am still squeemish about smelly bathrooms, large bugs, and doubt I will ever be able to sleep under a simple tarp (*cough* "bivvy sack") as die-hard backpackers seem to. This being said, there are a few staples that are absolute neccesseties for making your experience a good one.
1. Lightweight Backpack (*with a daypack for shorter hikes*)
I am a big fan of REI products in general. This is the pack we have, and it's perfect for what most hikers need. It's lightweight, has loads of features, and provides good support for your back, enabling you to carry most of the weight on your hips. Trust me, this is important. One year, I hiked with Jason and the pack bruised my collar bones because of too much weight on my shoulders. Ouch. This pack also has a soft water bladder compartment. Staying hydrated is key on hikes. When scaling Grasshopper Point with Jason (*you can read about this story here!), this water bladder was very comforting to me. I'll let Jason speak more about water hydration.
2. GOOD Hiking Boots
If there is one thing even the most casual of hikers/campers really shouldn't scrimp on, it's your hiking shoes. As I found through many blistered toes and heels, a poor fit, or inflexible shoe will really ruin your fun. I like the Merrell's quite a bit for their breathability, cushion, and fit. I definitely would reccommend trying your hiking shoes on before purchasing, as sizing and fit vary so much.
3. Wide Brimmed Rain/Sun Hat
Very Important to keep the sun off of your face, especially when hiking in the warmer summer months. Look for a crushable, water resistant, breathable hat. The Tilley Air Flow hat is my go-to favorite.
4. Air Mattress...
Ok. This one is really a luxury, but, it's a luxury that gently exposed me to the world of camping. We bring this every year with us on our PCH road trip. It would be far too heavy and cumbersome to bring with you wildnerness camping, but for regular car camping, it brings a bit more comfort to your sleeping bags. Remember to bring an air pump that is battery powered. And yes, it does make a bit of noise, but only for a few minutes. (*sorry, fellow campers... that vacuum noise is me...)
5. Stove with Fuel
Inexperienced that I was, I truly thought camping involved cooking things over the camp fire. One year, Jason and I bought bratwursts and cooked them on skewers over the fire. This would later be coined "the event that caused Tiffany to never eat Brats again", as I chomped into a crisp shell surrounding a raw center. It was as gross as it sounds. A small stove with fuel is a real life saver - boil water for coffee and to add to your dehydrated camp food pouches, and heat stews, soups, and chili. Much better than raw brats, trust me.
6. Flashlight + Mini Lantern
Oh so helpful for reading in your tent, which I happen to adore. Also helpful for late night bathroom trips, which i do not adore.
7. Blank Sketchbooks/Notebooks + Pens
I love bringing notebooks and sketchbooks with me when we go camping, but I've had a few notebooks dampened by a leaky tent. These notebooks by Rite in the Rain are waterproof. Yay!
8. Do Not Forget:
Moleskin, Blister Protector, Insect Repellant & Sunscreen. Yes, you will get blisters, your shoes will rub your heels raw, there will be mosquitos galore, and you should always wear sunscreen.
Hugs on the Journey!