While the guides at Killgore Adventures spend a lot of their time traveling on a jet boat or even an ATV, that doesn’t mean we don’t like to put our trusty leather hiking boots on and rely on some people-powered transport from time to time. We’ve spent a lot of time hiking and backpacking the trails throughout the Hells Canyon region. As such, we’ve got our packing lists pretty well dialed in.
While we all love to pack a few luxuries into the backcountry with us, they can get heavy fast. And sometimes the things we deem “essentially” don’t actually do us much good. So here’s a quick list of the five things you can leave at home before your next backpacking trip to Hells Canyon.
We make this note seemingly every time we talk about packing lists because it always bears repeating. Cotton clothes might be great for your trips into town, but they should stay in your front country closet. Cotton isn’t well-suited for the backcountry because it’s heavy, it absorbs water, and takes forever to dry out. You’ll find that it takes forever for you to get warm again if your cotton t-shirt gets wet on your next backpacking trip.
So avoid cotton shirts, pants, socks, and even underwear while backpacking. Instead, replace them with synthetic materials like polyester or nylon, or use other natural materials like merino wool.
Heavy Insulated Water Bottles
We admit we’re fans of the recent trend in insulated bottles and mugs. Warm coffee for 24 hours? Cold drinks for the same amount of time? What a luxury! But it’s just that, a luxury. When you’re backpacking, you won’t fully appreciate the insulating properties of these bottles because you’ll be noticing the weight instead. These things are heavy. Not only that, they’re loud! Even tapping these bottles with your keys results in an ear-piercing “ping” that is sure to echo throughout the walls of Hells Canyon. Do yourself a favor and leave these bottles at home and pack a lightweight plastic bottle instead.
We get it, you never know when you might need a knife, but does it really have to be the size of your forearm? Probably not. 99 percent of the time, you’ll use a knife to cut cheese or dried salami for your lunch, or cutting bits of line to help set up your tent. You won’t be cutting down trees or bears with any knife, regardless of size. So leave the showy knives at home where they belong and pack in a lightweight Swiss army knife instead.
The outdoors are priceless, so why would you bring your irreplaceable necklaces, watches, and other trinkets with you? The fact is, bring valuable items like these and others into the backcountry is just a recipe for heartbreak when you lose them. It’s best to bring materials that won’t bother you if you lose them on the trail. That includes things like laptops, high-end camera equipment, or other electronics. Think about which materials are going to make your experience comfortable without causing distractions.
A Bad Attitude
You’re on an adventure! Act like it! No one likes a grumpy travel buddy, especially when you’re miles from civilization. A backpacking trip is your chance to explore the outdoors, connect with your friends and nature, and put yourself into context. By approaching your backpacking trip with an explorer’s mindset, a positive mental attitude, and a willingness to learn, you’ll get plenty out of your trip.
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And that’s it! By leaving these simple things at home, you’ll have a more streamlined and enjoyable backpacking experience in Hells Canyon.