Outdoor Education

Let’s Talk Gear!

By Will Previte March 15, 2023
3 trip leaders in the backcountry

Let’s Talk Gear!

Walking into a gear store can be overwhelming, especially for first time campers: walls lined with sleeping bags, hundreds of different jackets to choose from, a variety of hats and shoes and socks and gloves, more gadgets than you know what to do with… How do you even begin to know what to bring on your backcountry adventures? Well, the staff at Wilderness Adventures have been experimenting with gear for years, and are here to talk about some of our favorite items to bring with us on an outdoor trip! As we get into the specifics, we want to break down the important aspects of choosing your ideal piece of gear: Safety, Comfort, and Style. We decided to reach out to our full time team to see what they had to say about their favorite camping gear as well! 


Every good backcountry trip begins by thinking about safety. Packing gear that will keep you warm, dry, and safe in case of emergency is the most important thing to think about prior to an outdoor trip. Before you even consider the comfort or style of your gear, you should think about the materials that you need in order to keep you safe in a variety of situations and conditions. This includes: plenty of insulating layers, methods for collecting and heating up water, a first aid kit, emergency communication devices, appropriate footwear, sunglasses and sun hats, and much, much more! REI has a great blog that notes their recommendations for essential safety equipment to bring on a hike, but you can also head to your local outdoor store and talk to the professionals there, do your own research online, or call Wilderness Adventures for any trip specific gear recommendations!

Here’s what a couple of our full time team members have to say about their essential pieces of safety gear:

Cass (MOLA Director): Maps- to know where I am going and the distances of every day! Even if I think I have the route down, it’s always great to be able to double check.
Grace (Program Expert): My First Aid Kit is a must. I have it dialed in to contain the things I know I will use (like electrolytes or duct tape) as well as things I hope I won’t need, but have just in case.
Katie (Regional Coordinator): I always bring my Garmin Inreach. It’s important to have emergency communication in case something goes wrong when you’re out of cell service! 


The weight of your pack is something we are always considering when packing for a trip. If you haven’t heard, there is a great method to the madness: “ABC’s” of packing, which stands for Accessibility, Balance, Compression, etc. This will play a huge part in how the pack actually feels on your back. But there is always the lingering question…Should I bring this? Should I bring that? Personally, I will sacrifice carrying a little extra weight for some extra comfort amidst the backcountry. Having the comfy pair of socks will make a cold night at the campfire so much better. Having the watercolors for a sunset painting session just feels right. The extra chocolate bar for when the going gets tough? You bet. Small comfort items like these can boost your mood and ease some of the physical discomfort while out backpacking. 

The full time team also weighed in on the items that they bring to feel comfortable in the backcountry: 

Marshall (Regional Coordinator): My REI camp chair has to come with me! I get really tight sitting on the ground the whole time.
Catherine (Owner and Director): My Big Agnes blow-up sleeping pad, and a pillowcase. I put my jacket and/or any spare clothes in the pillowcase and use that as my pillow.  My kids now do the same!
Will (Regional Coordinator): Art materials! This helps me relax and capture moments I do not want to forget!


As cliche as it sounds, when you’re looking good, you’re feeling good. Bringing your own style onto the trail will boost your confidence and propel you to new places. Style is something that we love over here at WA. Personal expression can be displayed through so many things- and we encourage you all to find that thing! Like we mentioned, packing a pack is an art. When it comes to the gear on the outside of our backpack, get rid of the dangling items if you can. This opens the door for lost items on the trail, and doesn’t quite play into the style we want. 

Here’s what the full time team has to say about style:

Rachel (Staffing Coordinator): No matter where I am or what activity I’m engaging in in the backcountry, you can always expect me to have my dangly earrings on. Whether they’re my iridescent jellyfish, songbirds, or some classic hoops, earrings help me feel like me and embrace femininity in the outdoors! I also always have biodegradable glitter in my hip belt pocket…never underestimate the power of some face glitter to up your mood on a big day in the mountains.
Maggie (Base Camp Director and Program Expert): Glitter!
Charlie (Regional Coordinator): Aldo’s (the dog!) backpack – definitely fashion over function because he never carries his fair share of weight.
Isabelle (Program Expert): Socks and Chacos!

Having the proper gear is crucial to having a successful expedition. Not only does it play into our safety, but also plays into our comfort and style as well. If you are looking for great gear, check out our rental program! We offer sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and backpacking packs. If you are interested in buying some gear, check out our WA Canteen.