Backpacking Gear List: Where to Shop for Backpacking Gear

Be prepared and pack light. When you’re traveling, having the right gear (or not having the right gear) can make or break your trip.

A few years ago I was camping through the Black Forest in Germany with my family and we didn’t bring enough layers. It was April and warm during the day. The first night, we jumped into our sleeping bags with one layer on, only to wake up at three a.m. half frozen to death. By the end of the camping trip, my sister and I were zipping our sleeping bags together, huddling for warmth.

Once in Florence, I forgot my raincoat and got stuck in a torrential down pore in shorts and a little tank top. It was just my luck that I was on my way to mass, and during the whole service I got quizzical looks from the little old Italian mamas.

On the flip side, I found out this summer just how wise of an investment my $250 Osprey backpack was. It is sturdy, durable, holds all 14 lbs of my stuff, withstands heat, checks onto planes and crams into cargo holds of ferry boats.

Needless to say, having the right backpacking gear is crucial, and knowing where to shop is just as important to get the best quality backpacking gear.

REI Backpacks

REI is a large retailer for lots of backpack making companies like Osprey and Eagle Creek. Buying a backpack isn’t something you should do over the internet. Trying the pack on for size and comfort is important, and it has to fit your torso just right. An REI specialist will show you the variety of brands they carry and will be able to help you select the one that’s best for you. http://www.rei.com/

L.L. Bean Long Underwear and Hiking

L.L.Bean is based in Maine, a primarily cold climate, which means they have the art of long underwear down to a science. L.L. Bean makes great long underwear that fits under jeans. It’s lightweight, affordable and packs well. If you’re an avid hiker check out L.L. Bean’s range of hiking boots and breathable long underwear shirts that can double as layers during a hiking trip. Plus, L.L. Bean has a great lifetime warranty where if you are ever unsatisfied with your product, or it breaks for any reason, you can ship it back at any time and get a new product for free or credit toward something else. http://www.llbean.com

The North Face Fleece and Down Jackets

The North Face makes warm polar fleeces that go well over any long layers, or even short layers, underneath. They are slightly more expensive than fleeces from Columbia or L.L. Bean but are much better quality and tend to wear longer. The fleece doesn’t pill as quickly if you follow the care instructions. The only downside to fleece is that it becomes useless when it gets wet it’s bulky when you pack it. For down winter jackets, shop at The North Face. You’ll spend between $250-500+ dollars but it’s worth every penny because they are lightweight, warm and most important–windproof. http://www.thenorthface.com

Coleman Camping Gear

Coleman camping gear is an old-school brand that has been in the market for a long time. Coleman knows best when it comes to camping gear, especially gear with strategic design like lanterns, tents, mini stoves, coolers, flashlights and folding chairs.   http://www.coleman.com/

Nike Sphere Thermal Fabric to help keep you warm and insulated
Ribbed cuff and hem
Rouched kangaroo hand pocket with elasticized binding
Attached hood with elastic binding
Zip-secure left chest pocket
Binded interior seams to keep the weather out

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