Those first couple of miles of the first backpack of the season are always tough, aren’t they? Hiking without a pack never prepares me for the shock of suddenly hauling all that extra weight, and my hips and shoulders are certainly not shy about letting me know that they think this is a stupid idea. And when it’s 55 degrees and windy when you exit the car at the trailhead, it’s definitely a case of mind over matter for the first hour.
So on our first backpack this past weekend, I distracted myself by making a list of those items that I absolutely have to have to make backpacking fun. One of them is above: a reward (in this case bourbon and cashews) at the end of the trail is a must!
Here are the rest:
1. A mountain man partner/husband who is always willing to carry the heavy stuff, and who is even willing to carry BOTH of our packs when we drop them at a high point to look for a good campspot, and then decide to camp way below where we left our packs. I should be ashamed to post this picture, but I’m not.
2. My Big Agnes Air Core sleeping pad. I’ve just had this lightweight, inflatable pad for two years, but I can’t imagine how I slept without it. Now when I don’t sleep it’s not because of the hard ground. I have the uninsulated one, which is fine for warm weather, but am about to upgrade to the insulated version. So if you’re going to buy one, I’d suggest spending the extra money for the insulation.
3. My Crazy Creek camp chair. I have friends who insist that it’s just as comfortable to use your empty backpack as a backrest, but they’re wrong.
4. A tent that is roomy enough for two people, with a good rainfly that really does keep out the rain. I never used to think that a door on each side was important, but since we’ve had the REI Half Dome, I’ve decided that they are indeed indispensable, not least because they allow me to wake up and see the wonderful view without getting out of my sleeping bag:
5. A comfortable backpack. I spent too many years using a backpack that didn’t fit, thinking that I just had to deal with pain in my shoulders during the whole trip. I’ve had my Deuter Air Core for about 10 years, and I love it. My shoulders protest at the beginning of a hike, but after the initial shock, they’re fine.
6. A fire, especially if it’s cold. I know, there are backpacking purists out there who think a fire is wrong, and I understand. And I don’t have one in places where you’re not supposed to. And if we’re not camping in a spot that already has a used fire ring, we just build a little one and then fix the spot in the morning so we’ve definitely “left no trace.” But if there’s a fire ring there already…I’m gonna use it.
7. Coffee in the morning.
8. Whiskey in the evening.
9. And finally, a good view. Not usually too hard to come by.