Our Favorite Backpacking Gear from Head to Toe (So Far)

Here at The Adventure Tribune, we bring only first-hand experiences to you, our loyal readers. We only bring up experiences that we’ve had personally. We only mention adventure gear that we’ve used on our own outdoor adventures. As members of the adventure community, we understand that our duty is to remain ethical and true to the spirit of adventure.

So, when we decided to discuss our favorite backpacking gear in this article, we wanted to make it clear to you, the reader, that we’ve personally tested every piece of gear that we’re about to discuss. No, we haven’t sample every outdoor company's gear for every situation because our adventures are entirely self-funded. But, we do have experience with different outdoor adventure gear companies.

So, here’s our personal, completely unbiased (okay, maybe a little biased) list of our favorite backpacking gear from head to toe:

Columbia Sportswear’s OutDry boots are incredible. Most backpackers will tell you that an adventure can be ruined with wet feet. Our boots that feature Columbia’s OutDry technology keep our feet 100 percent dry due to their waterproof capabilities. Plus, their lightweight composition gives our feet some breathing ability. Pair that with Columbia’s OmniGrip boot bottoms and you’ll have a hiking boot that you’ll never want to part with.

Though not usually considered an outdoor adventure company, Nike makes socks that are ideal for backpacking. Their durability and specially-placed foot padding is made specifically for basketball players, but the effect on the hiker’s foot is ideal.

When hiking in warmer weather, we came to to consensus that hiking shorts with a sweat-wicking material serves the best functionality. Check out Columbia Sportswear’s Omni-Wick section, or Prana’s Stretch Zion Shorts.

Again, Columbia Sportswear and Prana provide exceptional options for hiking pants. While Prana’s may look a little nicer, Columbia Sportswear’s Omni-Shield pants provide a layer of water resistance.

Baselayer shirts need sweat-wicking technology. We utilize either Nike DryFit, or Columbia Sportswear Omni-Wick shirts to provide the baselayer for most of our hikes and adventures.

Waterproof Layers
Inevitabley (especially in the Pacific Northwest), you’ll run into rain on a backpacking adventure. When we get hit with a spontaneous rainstorm, we trust our Columbia Sportswear Omni-Tech jackets to keep us 100-percent dry. The company also has a more expensive (and more durable) waterproof shell style under their Omni-Dry line.

Warm Layers
When it comes to thin, warm layers to heat you up on cold adventures, North Face produces some of the best upper-body gear. Though it can be costly, you can find discounted North Face warm layers here.

For sun-shielding hats, Columbia Sportswear’s PFG line produces some lightweight fishing hats that keep the sun off your face and neck. When it comes to cold-weather headgear, North Face makes some of the most lightweight-yet-warm skull caps. If you're looking for an authentic South American style that also helps allieviate poverty in Bolivia, check out

The most important piece of gear for a backpacking adventure is...the backpack. We trust our Mountain Hardwear interior-framed backpacks to get us through our treks. Their product guarantees are extraordinary. Their pack come with comfortable padding and weight dispersion that we haven’t seen in any other packs.

Sleeping Bags
Mountain Hardwear also produces quality, lightweight sleeping bags for cold-weather treks. Though we’ve never personally tested Kelty’s backpacking sleeping bags, they seem to have the same high-quality reputation that we’ve experienced with Mountain Hardwear’s stuff.

Now, we come to our personal experience with Kelty. I’ve used a two-person, two-pound Kelty backpacking tent for most of my adventures and it’s worked exceptionally well. The rain cover keeps out all evening rain, while the structure sets up and breaks down conveniently.

Our team seemed split between two top-notch cookware brands: Stanley and Coleman. Stanley provides basic, sturdy-yet-lightweight pots that stand the test of time, while Coleman produces a wide variety of lightweight cookware styles to choose from. With either brand , you can’t go wrong.

On-trail snacks can make (or break) a backpacking adventure. We stick with Kind bars, Krave beef jerky, and any sort of dried fruit. Typically, we find brands with limited packaging so we don’t have to bog down our packs with garbage until we find a trash facility.

My Gerber knife has treated me well on my backpacking adventures, though a new Portland company called Burnside Knives is producing some really cool stuff that we have yet to actually try.

Fishing Gear
The Sato rod from Tenkara USA makes the perfect rod/line combo for backpacking. The rod extends to over 12 feet in length, but it condenses below two feet. Also, it fits in a secure-yet-lightweight case that keeps it protected in your back while limiting the amount of weight. The rod only requires one line and fly, so you don't need to carry copious amounts of fishing gear with you either.

Water Containers
Last, but certainly not least, we come to our water containers. Camelbak sets the standard for water bladders that we place into our Mountain Hardwear packs. For handle-held water bottles, we stick with a Klean Kanteen.

That concludes our list. Again, we haven’t had the luxury of trying every single piece of gear from every single outdoor adventure company. If you think we missed something, or you have experience with another piece of gear that we haven’t explored, please let us know! If you represent a gear company that wasn’t represented in this article, we would love to sample your gear and give you our honest experience with it.

*Photo By: Tom Malone
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