Back Packing Essentials

Planning your wilderness adventure?
This brief guide will run through a few of the considerations when choosing what to pack.

Cooking equipment and food

Lightweight cookware, cooking equipment and food provides your fuel for the trip. Carefully chosen cookware will save on space, weight and last a life time.

Most of the Snow Peak range is made from titanium so it is extremely tough but very lightweight. Snow Peak is a premium quality although there are also other more cost effective cook sets and cutlery available such as sets from Sea to Summit and Vango.

Folding stoves such as the MSR Pocket Rocket 2 stove are a popular choice and a favourite with some of the Taunton Leisure team. Innovative stoves such as the Jetboil or the Windburner Stove System are also a good buy and are quick to boil.

The most important part of the packing is food! If you are trekking long distances, maintaining your energy levels is essential. Expedition Foods provide freeze dried, light weight but calorific meals. They are also tasty with a good choice from Beef and Potato Hotpot to Macaroni Cheese and Choc Chip Biscuit Pudding. Wayfarer also provide a good range although are 'wet' food and heavier in weight. A good tip is to check the calorie content of your food if your trip involves high levels of activity and don't for get your snack bars to keep you going during the day. Clif bars come in a range of flavours and the trusted Kendal mint cake is a good staple.

Sleeping equipment

After a long day trekking, the importance of a good nights sleep is essential to set you up for the next day of your adventure. The choice of tent is a careful consideration although for this guide we will focus on the sleeping equipment.

A quality sleeping mat such as the Thermarest NeoAir Xlite is lightweight and self inflating and will provide comfort and insulation. It is a small pack size too so you will have that extra bit of rucksack space to take an optional hammock so you could sleep under the stars!

A good sleeping bag will last you for many trips (as Stuart from our Exeter Store will tell you here!) and there are a few considerations before you make the right choice. The temperatures you will be sleeping in will ultimately guide which range to choose from and our sleeping bag buying guide here will help choose material and construction. Pictured left is the Mountain Equipment Helium 400. Top tip - use a sleeping bag liner that can be taken out and washed after your trip. This will help to prolong the life of the sleeping bag.

Don't forget your pillow! The Sea to Summit Aeros Premium Pillow shrinks down to just 7cm x 8.5cm so it is the ultimate space saver.


Clothing is a personal choice and largely dependent on where you are going and the conditions you will face. Staying warm in colder temperatures and cool in warm temperatures and dry in all conditions is key. Technical clothing can help with this and can make a trip much more enjoyable if the elements are against you.

Base layers are like a second skin and will help keep you warm in low temperatures but also regulate moisture when you are active. Icebreaker Merino Wool base layers and leggings are a favourite with the Taunton Leisure team. They feel soft, keep you warm when it is cold and cool when it is hot. They can also be worn for longer periods without smelling.

Having a good layering system with a fleece mid layer on top of your base layer, followed by an insulated jacket and a waterproof outer provides a flexible system to cope with varying conditions.

There are a range of insulated jackets on the market and considerations include: weight, packability, warmth rating or fill power, synthetic versus down, baffle size and stitching. Further information on this can be found here.

Waterproof jackets also come with varied technical capabilities and is down to personal preference. Fit, technical capabilities of the fabric, quality and position of the seams is always a good starting point when choosing a quality waterproof.

Trousers come in a range of lightweight, quick drying, technical materials. There are convertible trousers that zip off to shorts such as The North Face Exploration Convertible Pant. The Mountain Equipment Ibex trousers are also one of the best selling soft shell walking trousers, that are comfortable, durable, showerproof, lightweight and warm.


Making a list of items to pack is good practise and here are some of the items we would add to ours!

  • Helinox Chair Zero
  • Osprey Raincover (if your backpack doesn't have one built in)
  • Osprey Ultralight Drysack
  • Snow Peak Mini Hozuki Lantern
  • Silva Field Compass
  • Petzl Bindi Headtorch
  • Leki Trekking Poles
  • Torq Energy bars
  • Water to Go Filtration Bottle
  • Leatherman Squirt - mini multitool
  • Lifesystems Midge and Mosquito Repellent
  • Lifesystems Light and Dry Micro First Aid Kit
  • Buff DryFlx

Head back to the Taunton Leisure blog

Lots more helpful buying advice