Also, don't forget to bring a single change of clothes for sleeping and hanging around camp.
Other worthy items include one more layer, like a wind jacket or lightweight fleece, and an extra pair of socks. If you're out for more than a day, bring some kind of water treatment such as a filter or tablets to purify any water.
During a midday break, take off your shoes and socks, brush away the dirt and grit, and put on the clean pair of socks. Use water from a nearby source (if there is one) to rinse out the dirty pair. Pin them on the back of your pack and they'll dry as you hike (weather permitting).
That's all you need. That's not to say you shouldn't splurge a little. After all, backpacking should be enjoyable. Have fun with your food choices, bring a camera, and maybe even pack some wine. Just leave the glass bottle at home. Remember, food, and most importantly liquids, trump those luxury items.
More: Backpack Buying Tips
Surprise, Surprise, Surprise
Friends told you about an amazingly beautiful hike, just perfect for the day trip you had planned. Unfortunately, they forgot to mention the five river crossings and the mosquito-infested lake at the end.
Do your homework. Seek out information about the hike via a guidebook or even online and put a call into the ranger's office for update on trail conditions.
The Pack Cover
Backpacks are designed to get wet; it's the stuff inside that you want to keep dry. So, ditch the expensive outer pack cover.
Instead, take a large garbage bag and put it inside your pack as a liner. Place your sleeping bag, which should be in a stuff sack, and your clothes into a separate garbage bag.
Carrying a camera and other sensitive gear? Put it in an oversized Ziploc bag.
This liner accomplishes two tasks. It keeps your gear dry if you're backpacking in the rain. And it keeps your gear dry if you're forced to set up camp while it's raining.
There's nothing worse than figuring out how to dig through your pack and pull out the necessary gear in the driving rain without getting your sleeping bag all wet. With the garbage bag-as-liner technique you can rest assured that everything will stay dry.
Find a Campground at ReserveAmerica.com.