...So you're planning a backpacking trip, and the cheapest way to do it is camping. No problem! Here's a few pointers to get you started on your adventure. There are plenty of ways to get what you need and not spend a fortune doing it. Be sure to check out sites like this to get a good deal. 
First things first: what kind of camping trip are you taking? Are you traversing some major switchbacks, or just taking a 3 mile jaunt into your site? Plan out the trails and terrain and go from there. Decide how much weight you want to pack on your back. I always keep my bag between 15-20 lbs. When I backpacked the NaPali Coast (pictured above) in Kauai, there was no way I was carrying more than I had to so I brought minimal items. I'm talking a few swimmies, undies, tees, tanks and shorts as well as a hat to block sun and for when you're getting real gross and dirty, a head scarf, hygiene necessities, and some lightweight camping equipment. Depending on what type of climate you're backpacking, pack accordingly but pack minimal! It's not a fashion show! :) Your back will thank you later.
Secondly, and most important: food & water! We all like to eat, and when we're burning a lot of calories traversing around in the wild we get hungry a lot quicker than usual. I would recommend Mountain House for your lightweight dehydrated food. The Beef Teriyaki was my favorite for dinner, while the raspberry crumble was a delicious dessert. I also recommend the cheesy potatoes for breakfast. I always bring Cliff bars, protein bars, and various granola bars with me as well to snack on throughout the day or just eat as a meal. DO NOT bring canned food! I seriously don't know why people do this (and they do)! It's so heavy and just a bad idea. Everything you pack has to be non-perishable so bring things that can stay in your bag. Bring some dried fruit and trail mix, as well as some protein powder to mix in your water for a burst of protein (try Gatorade powder, too). If you do happen to bring anything perishable (bacon, anyone?) eat it on day one. Sandwiches are always a good way to start a hike...meat and cheese, people - yum yum. If you're like me, day two of dehydrated food will make you a bit looney and you'll be dreaming about real food but this will do the trick and save your back. 

Cooking: how does this go down?! We always bring along our tiny little pocket rocket camping stove, with an extra can or propane/fuel. We usually end up boiling fresh water from rivers and streams. There are also tablets you can use, but they're a pain in the butt because you have to let the water sit for a while to purify. If you've got a budget to work with, go for a water pump and then you can just clarify right on the spot. You can buy any and all of these things at your local Sports Authority, REI, Cabelas, Dicks, Sierra Trading Post, Geartrade, Backcountry or just online at any of their websites. I personally use my Seychelle filtration water bottle that I got for a great deal online here (it's a hidden gem). These puppies are amazing, you can literally dump poop water in it and still drink it. They use these in a lot of disaster relief areas post-natural disaster, like the earthquake in Haiti and tsunami in Japan. They work wonders.

Etiquette tip: pack it in, pack it out! Don't be that guy that leaves crap laying around like the world is its own trash can and that things will take care of themselves. Your rubbish ends up in our beautiful oceans - so have a little etiquette and bring some jumbo bags with you to stuff your trash in when you leave. Carry it out to the nearest dumpster, and give yourself a high five.
Equipment: where to sleep, what to bring? With only three poles and weighing 5 lbs, this backpack is small, compatible and lightweight. Perfectly fit for the trail. Marmot makes a lot of tents and each year comes out with new editions, so this was ours in 2011. Anything along these lines is great, but brand doesn't really matter - just do what works with your budget. I also recommend these sleeping pads for those naturally hard grounds... they're amazing and worth the investment, and while I currently have a different brand I am working towards getting this type. I've heard they're super comfortable and your body weight is just right so no parts ever hit the ground. Strap it on to your backpack and away you go!
Lastly: don't forget a day bag. I always bring along my little Camelback hydration pack. If you can't afford the real deal, go to Costco and get their off-brand bag for a quarter of the price (like I did). These are great to have because not only does it keep you hydrated, but it has room to stuff a camera and some miscellaneous day trip items for your outings.

Are you ready to get your camp on, FOR REAL? Let us know if you're planning a trip, and if this post helped. Make it a great Monday!

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  1. Looks SO fun...


  2. My friend & I are planning an overnight (or two) backpacking trip for the summer, so this was super helpful! Thanks!

  3. I'm going to Kauai in a few weeks and hiking the Nepali so this was way helpful! I've been worried about food so I'll definitely check out Mountain House, Thanks!!

  4. Ahhh. This has me craving a camping trip like crazy!!

    Beautiful pictures, beautiful Ky!


  5. LOVED this post ky, so dang helpful. ill totally refer to it when we go backpacking someday. and you look SO CUTE in all these photos. fun remembering this trip again :) great advice, thanks sis!

  6. The first time I ever truly backpacked and camped was in Kauai when my fiance decided we were going to hike the NaPali coast (same trail/place that you have pictured above). He had hiked it before and tried warning me that I didn't need my several sweaters, jeans, etc. Well, I didn't listen. Let's just say I learned my lesson. While the view, beach, and hike were spectacular, my body hated me! Your photos make me want to go back! This time, with about a third of what was actually in my backpack!


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