5 Backpacking Basics for Your Next Trek

Every trek and backcountry adventure holds a different set of challenges, from weather and terrain to navigation and wild animals. The first step to conquering them is to carry the proper gear that your particular trip requires.

Scott Cundy, owner of the Wildland Trekking Company, is an old hand at the hiking gear game. His early years were spent hiking in Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico. Today, his company takes clients on unique hikes throughout the United States.

Cundy shares what you need to know, before you go.

Know Your Hike

Don't fall into the trap of relying on trail markers.

"A map and compass are critical if someone hasn't done a hike before, or if the hike involves difficult route finding," says Cundy.

More: Pack Light and Hike Strong

Even when you know your hike, a headlamp and lighter or waterproof matches are must haves. Day hikes can take longer than expected, leaving you fighting the daylight. Cundy says these items add hardly any weight in comparison to the potential benefits they provide.

Layer to Prepare for Changes

Layer clothing for any extended hike as temperatures can fluctuate throughout the day and with changes in elevation. Picking the right materials and type of clothing is equally important, says Cundy.

He advises against cotton fabrics because they can hold onto moisture and stay wet for days, causing you to lose body heat faster. Cundy recommends polyester for base layers with secondary layers of fleece, wool or other warm layers. Top that all with a hard, weather resistant outer shell.

More: How to Pick the Right Hiking Shoes

In the desert, the opposite is true.

"In the desert, cotton is often your best friend, for the exact reason it isn't in the mountains: It hangs onto moisture, which cools the body down," says Cundy. He continues, "However, evenings and nights can cool down dramatically, so it's important to have additional base layers besides cotton, as well as fleece or wool secondary layers."

More: Safe Backcountry Hiking: Retired Park Rangers Give Advice

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