2020 has been an interesting year. Many people who would previously have chosen mainstream destinations are heading out into the boondocks for a backwoods holiday along with all its other challenges. If this is new to you, knowing what to pack can be a bit of a challenge. After all, once you’re hundreds of miles from anywhere, you don’t want to find that you missed out on essentials you probably should have brought along. Check out this list of basics and extras you absolutely do not want to forget!
If you’re heading out into the bear country, you can hope for sightings. But it can be all-too-easy to annoy these beautiful animals inadvertently. Let’s not overstate the risk, though. Statistics cite an average of 40 bear attacks from around the world every year. That’s not a lot. However, if you do find yourself facing an angry bear, the bear spray does the trick. You have time to get away, and the animal whose range you invaded will be just fine. Take it along just in case!
Although the chances of getting stormed by an angry bear are pretty slim, mosquitoes are more than likely to find you attractive in any backwoods destination. They’re so annoying that you may head for the nearest store – even if that’s miles away – to get relief from these nasty little insects and their itchy bites. That’s if you didn’t remember to bring the insect repellent along. If you did, you can get a good night’s rest secure in the knowledge that you don’t look like a tasty blood meal and won’t wake up frantically scratching dozens of irritating bites.
A Good Pocket Knife / Multi-Tool
Sure, you’re not going to pack the kitchen sink – but it’s super-annoying if you find that the thing you need most right now was left on the kitchen sink or in a toolbox you didn’t bring along. A good multi-tool should have everything from a tin opener (it really is one of the things many campers forget to pack) to a screwdriver and scissors. Best of all, you can slip it into your pocket so that it’s always handy when you need it.
A First Aid Kit
Accidents can happen anywhere, and times when you’re active in the wilds, are no exception to the rule. With luck and a little caution, you probably won’t be dealing with anything worse than the odd scrape, scratch, or bruise, but if the worst happens and you’re facing a nasty accident, your first aid kit could be a literal lifesaver. Hiking and camping stores offer complete first aid kits that will help you to cope until you can get your patient to an emergency room – or provide the little basics you need to treat minor injuries with ease.
If the weather turns nasty, you want to be in a position to stay warm and dry. Rain gear needn’t be bulky, but it can save you from those sopping-wet and miserable experiences that you laugh about later but find truly unpleasant at the moment. Rainy days in the wilds can be truly beautiful – but only if you’re equipped to be comfortable enough to care.
Map and Compass
This may sound terribly boy scout-ish – but there’s a good reason why boy scouts learn orienteering! Your map shows you the routes you should be traveling. If you still wonder off track, which can be surprisingly easy, your compass will help you find your way back to civilization. If you’re not accustomed to using a compass, learn how to use it before setting out. There are real-life instances in which people lose their way on familiar trails, sometimes for days. Don’t let this be you. Remember that mobile phones could be off-network in out-of-the-way places, and be ready to find your way using low-tech methods.
Everything You Need to Start a Fire
When you’re in the wilds, a fire equates to warmth, light, comfort, and a means of preparing a meal. Even if you’re into LPG cooking equipment, you still need an ignition source – and equipment can fail. A couple of reliable lighters (backup in case one fails) and fire-starters are essentials for any hiking or camping trip in the backwoods. Besides, there’s nothing to beat a good, old-fashioned campfire, even on the barmiest of nights. Remember to keep fire safety in mind and extinguish the coals properly before moving on or leaving the fire unattended.
Water Purification Tools
Presumably, you’re packing water bottles or are expecting access to good, drinkable water, but things don’t always go as planned. If you’re going far off the beaten track, having a means of water, purification is a basic survival need. You may never need it, but if you experience a contingency in which you do, your foresight could make all the difference.
We all love a little sunshine, but a little can quite easily turn into too much. Sunblock is a must for any outdoor holiday, and a good hat with a brim that shades the face and neck is a handy bonus. Remember that avoiding sunburn isn’t just a matter of escaping immediate discomfort. In every case of sunburn, you have increases your risk of skin cancer later on. Take a little extra care and avoid getting more sun than you should.
Don’t Forget that Headlamp or Torch
Even if you aren’t planning any night excursions, you’ll probably find yourself stepping away from the lights at some time or another. Your headlamp or torch will come in handy when you need to venture into the dark. And country nights can be much darker than you expected! Be ready to shed some light into the dark! You’ll be glad that you did!
Backwoods Holidays Are Fun – If You’re Well Prepared
There’s something special about venturing into the backwoods for a little break from the hustle and bustle of city life. You’ll love the experience, but being prepared for everything from bears to nights helps keep your excursion positive, safe, and fun. Pack the right things, and nothing will spoil what should be the holiday of a lifetime. Enjoy it!