This is a thread for those of us who are enthusiastic about camping/hiking/backpacking and the gear it involves. Please share: - Places you have been. - Places you want to go. - Gear you have. - Gear you want. - Good recipes for campsite cooking. - Anything else relevant. I did a lot of camping and walking holidays as a kid, but always pretty tame. My first serious hiking experience was the Torres del Paine "W" trek in Patagonia and I was woefully unprepared. It wasn't even that cold, given that it was the summer, but the temperature plummeted at night, I got wet on the first day, was wearing cotton, had a seriously lightweight sleeping bag, no sleeping pad, etc. Needless to say I had a pretty miserable time and got quite ill. On the plus side, it looked like this: Since then I have been slowly accumulating the equipment and knowledge to do these things properly. I've been easing myself into it, not doing anything too serious (especially as my friends are not as into it as I am) but still having a lot of fun doing short camping trips within the UK (e.g. the South Downs). Along the way I've found that I kinda love the equipment just as much as the actual hiking aspect. I really enjoy looking at reviews and picking out the best stuff. I've still got a lot of items to get before I can consider my set-up "complete", but due to the high prices involved these things do take a lot of time to buy without it feeling like a massive up-front investment. In the meantime, I fill in the gaps (most notably my lack of a tent!) by sharing with friends or just making do with non-specialist stuff (e.g. a normal sleeping bag, wearing regular clothes instead of clothes designed for hiking). Here's the stuff I've got so far (links to reviews where possible), most of which I am very happy with: Utility Backpack: Osprey Atmos AG This bag is popular enough that it needs little explanation. The harness is amazing, making it feel like the weight is considerably less than it is. It's also very breathable and has handy large pockets in the belt. Sleeping pad: Therm-a-rest NeoAir Xtherm Again, this is a pretty ubiquitous item because it's just that far ahead of the competition. Amazing insulation, very comfortable (you can lie on your side and you don't touch the floor) and I am continuously astonished by how small it packs. Pillow: Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow Most people consider a pillow an unnecessary item when camping. For me I can't sleep without one so this is a big concession I make to weight/volume in my pack. This pillow actually takes up more space than my sleeping pad. Towel: Life Adventure HydroFibre Trek Towel This thing packs down to an absurdly small size. It also dries insanely quickly. Feels like you're drying yourself with a piece of plastic but it does the job. Headlamp: Vitchelo V800 The review linked is pretty damning but the light suits my purposes well (mainly for emergency use, so battery life is important). It's also one of the cheapest on the market. Knife: Mora Companion Stainless Steel Cheap full-tang knife made from a good quality steel that does most jobs well. I've abused the hell out of it (e.g. using it to open tin cans) so the blade has developed a couple of notches but it's cheap enough that I can easily get another one. The blade is surprisingly sharp: I was able to cut into tin cans easily! I understand that the regular (non-stainless) steel blade keeps its edge better but I preferred durability over sharpness. Kitchen Stove: MSR PocketRocket 2 The only downside is it doesn't have an ignition button so you have to carry matches. Cooking set: MSR Quick 2 System This is my main concession to weight, as most of my other stuff is minimal "ultralight" type equipment. But for me, campsite cooking is one of the great joys of hiking. Emergency firelighter: Light My Fire Firesteel I've never had to use it but having it makes me feel more secure. Seasoning: Light my Fire Salt & Pepper Plus Handy little triangle containing compartments for 3 seasonings. Salt, pepper and smoked paprika are my defaults. Cutlery: Eurohike Ellipse Knife, Fork and Spoon Set Cheap and do the job, but I can't recommend these unequivocally as if you use them to cook with (rather than just for eating) the plastic does deform a little bit. I'll need to look for something a little more durable; recommendations are welcome. Clothing Waterproof shell: Patagonia Torrentshell Waterproof outer layer. Does the job well and combines well with my down jacket. Not the top of the market in terms of specs but still pretty good. Down jacket (mid-layer): Rab Microlight Alpine I love this jacket. It's warm, it looks good, it's roomy enough that I can wear a fleece layer underneath but fitted enough that the waterproof outer layer easily goes on top. Light fleece (mid-layer): Some North Face fleece that I can't identify A mid-layer for when the weather is mild enough that a down jacket is overkill. Stuff that I still need/want to get: Utility Sleeping bag: Western Mountaineering Summerlite At the moment I'm using a 2 season sleeping bag which is generally fine for the UK, but I want something that will allow me to go out in early spring/late autumn, as well as a bag which will compress down much smaller than my current bag does. Tent: MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 This is a very popular freestanding ultralight tent. A new version comes out in Feb 2019 so I'm going to wait and see if the new one is worth the additional cost. If I was in the USA I'd probably get the Nemo Dagger 2P, which is very similar but has a slightly bigger interior and much larger vestibules, but that tent is not available in the UK. Day pack: Osprey Daylite Something to take the essentials in when you leave the main pack at the campsite. Hydration bladder: Hydrapak Shape-Shift Reservoir My backpack (and the day pack above) have space for one of these and it's a much easier way of carrying large amounts of water around than bottles. Trekking pole: Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork I was initially quite sceptical about the benefits of trekking poles but they really do reduce the load on your legs/knees. Water purifier: MSR Guardian Purifier This is massive overkill. A purifier like this is not needed in the UK at all. But it's cool and I want it. It would also be handy in an apocalyptic situation. Will probably be the last thing I buy though. Plus other boring shit like First Aid kit, twine, etc. I also need a better way of dividing my bag internally. I've been using some tupperware tubs of various sizes but their rigid nature means that I pack inefficiently with a lot of gaps between items. So I basically need a selection of sealable, relatively durable fabric bags in various sizes. Clothing Base layer: Unknown I need to sort this out. Merino wool is objectively the best material for a base layer but I think I may be allergic. Or at least the ones I have tried on in shops have all been a bit itchy, which merino wool is not supposed to be (the fibres are longer than regular wool). If I can't find a non-itchy merino wool base layer I will have to go for a synthetic alternative, probably the Patagonia Capilene Lightweight Crew. Hiking Pants: Outdoor Research Men's Ferrosi Pants These are pretty pricey for me but you only really need to buy one pair. I like how flexible they look. Waterproof Trousers: Marmot PreCip I have a pair of waterproofs already but they're pretty bulky and I want something that packs down smaller. However, I was pretty horrified when I saw the price of the most recommended items. These ones seem more sanely priced and look like they will do the job well. Hiking Boots: Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX Again I have some hiking boots already (Doite) but they're coming up on 5 years old now and have seen some heavy use, so I am in the market for a replacement. These ones have good waterproofing (essential in the UK) and are pretty reasonably priced. This post is already absurdly long so I will return tomorrow to post recipes.