gettin' gear | the big three

This is the second post in my new series called "Gettin' Gear". This series is designed to assist you in your gear search as a new backpacker. I hope to answer questions about my own gear and about how you ought to go about choosing your gear.

Other posts that you may enjoy

This post breaks down the differences between bear cans and bear bags!

Here are my big three picks with their pros and cons!

Lastly, this post is about hammocks.

The big Three

The "big three" are the overnight camping essentials that you shouldn't leave without if you want to make it through the night comfortably. The "big three" includes your backpack. Your backpack could be a frameless, an internal frame, or an external frame. The size of your pack will vary based on how long you are out, whether it be one night, a weekend, or a week. Your tent, sleeping bag, a sleeping pad will also vary based on the climate that you are hiking in (winter, spring, summer, or fall).


Tips for buying the big three

This is a compilation of tips that I wish I had known when I was buying backpacking gear. Here are my tell-all tips including terms to know when you are looking into gear!


How to choose | BAckpacks

Terms to know:

1) Daypack: a daypack is a smaller bag that is used for day hiking trips. To get a picture of what this might look like, think of school bags. These bags range from 15 liters to about 30 liters.

2) Hiking Backpacking: a hiking backpack is a larger bag that is used for multi-day trips or overnight trips in general. A multi-day hiking backpack will range from 35 liters for the ultralight and up to 80 liters.

3) Liters: the capacity of a backpack is measured in liters.

4) Internal frame: an internal frame backpack has a built-in structure. These are the most common type of backpack for backpackers, especially beginners.

5) Frameless: this is a backpack with no frame or structure. Typically these are what ultralight backpackers use and the gear in your backpack serves as the structure.

6) Baseweight: total weight of your entire gear kit, excluding consumables which are food, water, and fuel. This is important to pay attention to make sure that you are not carrying a backpack that is too heavy.

7) Ultralight: ultralight is a category of backpacking that makes a point to pack only the essentials when backpacking. These hikers tend to have a low base weight of 7 to 11 pounds.

Pay Attention to:

1) Backpack capacity, which is the maximum weight and volume that can be carried. Weight will be indicated in pounds, but volume will be indicated in liters.

2) Your personal measurements! Pay attention to this because I made sure I did. I have a shorter torso, so having a pack that was adjustable was a priority for me.

My tips:

1) Know what size you need!

  • Backpacks come in many sizes, such as daypacks and hiking backpacks. Daypacks range from 10 liters to approximately 40 liters and anything greater than that would be considered a multi-day backpack!

  • The size will be determined by how much you want to carry and how many days you intend to be out on the trail.

  • For reference, I use a 60L backpack for my trips. I can fit everything for a multi-day trip.

2) Know what frame size you will need!

  • I have a very small torso, so even my s/m sized frame it a bit too big. Everyone's torso is different. Pay attention to this because this can make or break for the fit of your pack.

3) Make a list of your deal-breakers!

  • Do you want a pack with a waterproof fabric? How about external pockets? BIg hip-belt pockets? A sleeping bag compartment? Roll top? Front loading?

4) Brand loyalty may influence you.

  • If you have a brand that you trust, go with that brand. I have a Gregory daypack and I ended up buying a Gregory backpacking pack. This does not mean that I didn't consider brands.

5) Read reviews!

  • Say you don't have a brand that you are loyal to, I would suggest starting with reading reviews of popular packs.

This should get you started on your backpacking search.

My affordable BAckpack Recommendations

Gregory Amber 44 Liter Pack

Price: $117.73

Weight: 2lbs 12oz

Liters: 44 L

Gregory Amber 60 Liter Pack

Price: $132.73

Weight: 3lbs 9oz

Liters: 60 L

Check out my thoughts on this pack here.

REI Co-op traillbreak 60 Liter Pack

Price: $149.00

Weight: 3lbs 11oz

Liters: 60 L

Ozark Trail Hiking Backpack Eagle 40 l Pack

Price: $38.95

Weight: 2lbs 4.5oz

Liters: 40 L

Ozark Trail 55 L Crystal Cavern Technical Backpack

Price: $59.97

Weight: not sure

Liters: 55 L

articles to browse

HOw to choose a backpack | REI

Ultralight backpacking basics | REI

How to Choose and fit a backpack | REI

Videos to watch

HOw to choose Backpacking packs | Rei

HOw to choose a Backpack for hiking and backpacking | BackpackingTV

How to choose the right backpack | Backcountry Exposure

HOw to fit a backpacking pack | REI

REI Co-op Gear Guide: Best Backpacking Packs | REI

Buy the Right Backpack (and how to pack it) | Homemade Wanderlust


HOw to choose | Tents

Terms to know:

1) Bivvy: a bivouac shelter is any of a variety of improvised campsite, or shelter that is usually of a temporary nature, used especially by soldiers, or persons engaged in backpacking, scouting, or mountain climbing.

2) Free-Standing: the tent bodies can hold their shape on their own without needing to be staked out.

3) Rain-Fly: A fly refers to the outer layer of a tent or to a piece of material that is strung up using rope as a minimalist, stand-alone shelter. In basic terms, a fly is a tent without walls.

4) Capacity: this is the number of sleepers that the tent will fit.