When it comes to getting started in an hobby, the starting costs can often seem expensive and a sort of turn off. In a lot of ways the hiking and outdoor enthusiast hobby can seem that way too. But trust me, you don’t need $100 gadgets to have a good time in the woods.
When you get right down to it, about the only thing you really need are the clothes on your back and a willingness to explore. With that said there are a few essential pieces of gear that will make your time spent in the woods far more enjoyable. The items I am going to recommend have an added bonus of doubling as sort of survival kit, should you find your trip taking a turn for the worse.
Items For Your Outdoorsman Kit
|Outdoor Products Quest Day Pack||A|
|Esbit Cook Set||B+|
Obviously, the first thing you really need is a backpack. A backpack allows you to keep all of your gear organized and carry it in a comfortable manner.
The backpack recommendation I have made is the Quest Backpack From Outdoor Products. This is roughly a 40-liter bag. The officially stated dimensions are (20.25 x 14.5 x 9.5). The Quest backpack is an excellent bag for day hikes and overnight trips. It offers plenty of storage space for gear and has a few useful features.
A few of the features include a place for a hydration bladder if that is something you think you will want to use in the future. It also features molle webbing all over the bag. I have personally used the MOLLE webbing to attach a number of items to the bag including the Gerber Strongarm.
Since I mentioned the Strongarm, now is a perfect time to bring up a knife. Having a knife in the outdoors is a valuable tool as it allows you to do a number of things including processing firewood, creating feather sticks, cut cordage, clean and process fish and game, and a whole host of other tasks.
The knife I recommend for a more budget kit is the Schrade SCHF36. This knife is a fairly beefy knife that meets pretty much all the criteria I look for in a survival and outdoor knife. Picking out a belt knife is a pretty personal task, as there is no universal fit. You have to go with what is comfortable for you. With that said there a few guidelines, I try to keep in mind when selecting a knife.
Knife Spec Considerations
- Full tang construction
- Carbon steel - Stainless if you live along a coast
- At least a 4-inch blade
- 90-degree spine - In this case, the knife doesn’t have to have a 90-degree spine as you can create one with a file in a few seconds.
Keeping with the Schrade, it also offers a few additional perks as well. Those perks include adding a decent ferrocerium rod and a diamond sharpener. Even if you plan to carry a different Ferro rod or a lighter, it is at least nice to have a backup.
Having a solid saw is great if you find yourself needing to process down larger pieces of firewood. Usually, a folding saw is a good choice since it fits easily in your backpack. If you are going out for more than a day or two I would recommend carrying a hatchet or ax with you as well.
For the saw, I chose the Bahco Laplander, for 20 bucks it is one of the best handsaws you can buy. One great feature of the Laplander is the teeth of the saw are designed so that the saw will cut on both the push and pull, allowing you to process firewood more quickly and with less effort.
The other competitive choice would be to pick up a silky boy. Both are great choices and will make short work of any small to medium sized log. It is possible to cut through large logs, but it can be exhausting and really isn’t worth the effort.
Not every place you go to will allow open fire, but carry a fire starter with you is still a good idea. For one, you can still use a backpacking stove to cook a meal, so carrying a lighter or matches is a good idea so that you can light the fuel tabs that come with your cook set.
Secondly, if you find yourself lost, having a fire offers tremendous value including helping to keep your core body temperature up, as well as offering protection from larger predators, and even acts as a beacon to rescue workers looking for you in the dark.
Having a fire also allows you to boil questionable water. Killing any pathogens you may happen across.
It would take a whole post to tell you the various reasons why you should always have a way to make fire, but for now, I will leave you those.
When it comes to choosing a fire starter I always recommend having a few different options, as well as a few different tinder sources as well.
Options for fire starters include lighter, matches, Ferro rod, fresnel lens, chemical fire, or 9-volt battery and steel wool.
Personally, I think the best consideration for a fire starter is a good old fashion Bic lighter. But ultimately the choice is up to you.
Cookset / Metal water bottle
Being able to make a meal in the great outdoors is a huge morale boost. Especially if it’s blisteringly cold out.
Thanks to the hiking industry there is no shortage of stoves and cook sets available for you to choose from.
For a decent budget option, I tend to recommend the Esbit folding stove or the Walmart knock off. Both work awesome, but the Walmart one will save you a few dollars. To go along with the folding stove you should also consider picking up a metal cup and a metal water bottle to cook your meal on.
Metal nesting pots can be had for a few dollars at Walmart or you can pick up the Esbit stove that has a nesting cup with it.
This item is sort of optional. As you always have the choice to boil water. But having a decent water filter is certainly much more convenient than having to stop and boil water anytime you want to refill your water bottle.
Hands down the best budget water filter option is the Sawyer Mini. The Sawyer mini has a filter life of 100,000 gallons of water and can be attached to pretty much any 20oz bottle.
Due be care with various water bottles, however, as some have smaller openings the Sawyer won’t attach to. The Sawyer can also be rigged up to be used inline with a bladder as well if that is your cup of tea.
As for filtering, the sawyer will filter down to 0.1 microns. Removing any bacteria or protozoa in the water. However, it will not remove viruses due to their small size. However, in America viruses are rarely a problem, but if you are uncertain the best thing to do is just boil the water.
First aid kit
Having a decent first aid kit is a must anytime you venture into the wilderness. Anything can happen, and it is best to have some way to treat the various situations that can potentially arise.
From cuts and scrapes to broken bones, a good first aid kit can save a life, provided you have a decent understanding and working knowledge of wilderness first aid.
At the very least you should carry an assortment of bandages, gauze, antibacterial cream, anti-diarrheal tablets, and few pain relievers.
As with everything on this list, cordage is another essential item. However, to use cordage effectively you should have a decent working knowledge of few different knots.
Cordage can allow you to do a number of tasks including building a shelter, setting up camp, making a clothesline, making a backpack frame, and more.
I recommend carrying at least 50ft of good strong cordage with you anytime you venture into the wilderness.
The fact of that matter is this. You don’t need a lot to have fun in the woods. The clothes on your back and a can-do attitude are enough to enjoy a day in the woods. The items mentioned above do have their merit as it will tend to make things easier and more enjoyable. Not to mention they the additional bonus of aiding in a survival situation should you find yourself in one.
The items I have listed I have used personally and have found to be great quality. Just because of a piece of gear is expensive doesn’t mean it’s the best. Sometimes you just end paying for the name, when a piece of gear that’s a fraction of the cost would have done just as well.
You can save some money on a few of these items by picking up other alternatives. Walmart, for instance, sells plenty of gear that’s decent quality. I will warn you though to fully test every piece of gear you own.
While I have picked up some decent items from Walmart I have gotten some bad ones too. Goodwill is another excellent place to pick up outdoors items like mess kits, metal water bottles, and other outdoors-related items as well. You just need to shop around.
If you found this article helpful, please share it on social media so that others can find it as well.
Thanks for reading and remember adventure is waiting.