Backpacking For Beginners: Part Two

group photo on the trailEditor’s Note: Jennie from Lehman’s recently went on her first backpacking trip ever. Today she’s sharing with us her adventure. If you missed part one (her preparation for the trip), you can check it out here.

I successfully made it to the other side of the trail! I’m tired, a little sore, and am sporting an impressive collection of mosquito bites, but this backpacking trip was one of the most refreshing things I’ve done in a long time. I never thought I would be the type of person to classify climbing uphill through poorly marked woods for 4 straight hours, sweating more than I thought humanly possible, and getting bitten by mosquitos through my clothing as fun. But I suppose stranger things have happened and so here we are: backpacking was FUN!

on the trail
On the trail

The one aspect of backpacking I enjoyed the most was the time and opportunity you had to connect – to the people you are traveling with and to the natural world around you – I can’t begin to tell you how freeing it was to pack my phone out of sight and mind for the majority of the trip. We couldn’t have planned for better weather and the location we chose for hiking was simply gorgeous – the leaves on the trees slowly starting to change colors, the soothing ebb and flow of the lake as it came up to the shore, the peaceful stillness in the early morning hours.

At one point during our hike, I joked with my friends that this was the least amount of stuff I had ever packed for a trip. (One side effect of being a type-A planner is that I always end up packing more for vacations than is needed. One can never be too prepared, right?) There were some items, however, that I’m definitely glad I packed because they made the trip go much more smoothly. Consider getting some or all of these items for your next outdoors trip. They are great for peace of mind while being out on the trail and when setting up your campsite.

1. LifeStraw Go Water Bottle

LifeStraw Go Water Bottle
Enjoying clean water with LifeStraw

This was my #1 favorite item on the entire trip. I’m used to drinking a lot of water during the day, so I was concerned about the accessibility of water we would potentially have during our trip. However, with this water bottle (which features a built-in filtration system), I had assurance that as long as I had access to some type of water, I would be able to have portable water. It took a bit of time to get used to filling up my water bottle straight from the lake, but knowing that you always have access to clean water is hugely reassuring.

2. Canned Meats
You know how, sometimes, the simplest things are the best things? That’s how I felt about our dinner after we had hiked all day. It was one of the most simple meals I’ve ever eaten, but after a long day of backpacking and setting up camp, it tasted as good as a steak in a 5-star restaurant. We made instant stuffing and mixed it with Lehman’s canned beef and canned chicken. It was simple to make and was a delicious, hot meal!

3. Hand-Cranked Lantern

hand-cranked lantern
Here’s a photo of the lantern in action.  It’s quite bright!

As someone who was raised in the suburbs, I sometimes forget how dark the night can be without any ambient light. Add in the uneven terrain of a campsite and it makes for a dangerous trek to the public bathrooms when you need to brush your teeth. This lantern, which is entirely powered by kinetic energy (you crank the handle to charge it), provided bright light to our campsite and had adjustable settings, which allowed us to use it as a flashlight also.

4. Pocket Stove

pocket stove
The pocket stove is compact for packing, but impressive too. It boils 1 pint of water in about 8 minutes. Not bad for the size!

This mini “stove” worked well for heating up the water we needed for dinner, but the true winners of this kit are the fuel cubes that are included with the stove. If you’re particularly bad at getting a campfire started (like we were), the fuel cubes are a godsend. Stick a couple of the cubes in and under the wood, and light ‘em up – the flames burned strong and high, which was great for getting the kindling to light when it gave us some trouble.

It was comforting to know that our group was prepared with the necessary supplies we needed for our trip – it allowed us to enjoy the journey without worrying that something would go terribly wrong. Lately, I have been reminded how wonderful the simple things are in life – the company of good friends, a drink of clean water, the beauty of the outdoors. This trip, while physically challenging, was the kind of fulfilling simplicity I want to pursue more in my life. My only remaining question is this: “When can we go again?!

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