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Packlist: The gear we took on a Northern California backpacking trip

There isn’t a much more transcendent experience than stepping away from the bulk of your worldly possessions and reconnecting with the natural world. This can be achieved a number of ways, but arguably one of the most infinitely satisfying is backpacking.

Make sure you’ve got the basics covered when it comes to backpacking gear. Photo: Gale Straub

Hoisting what you need onto your back, pushing your body up slopes and through elevation – sweat glistening on your brow, dust being kicked up and tossed about – setting up camp, falling asleep with the setting of the sun and rising with the first light. It’s the kind of experience that has the power to change you, if you’ll let it.

With the pressures that backpacking puts on your body, it’s essential that you pack the proper gear to support and carry you through your adventure.

Preparing to hit the trail. Photo: Gale Straub

We recently took a three-day backpacking trip to the Point Reyes National Seashore, just north of San Francisco. We tested a range of products, sacrificing our bodies to bring you a curated list of the gear you’ll need for your next backpacking adventure.

Snow Peak Tableware bowl ($10) and Titanium spork ($10)

Snow Peak makes the ultimate camp dishware set – lightweight and good looking. Photo: Gale Straub

If you like minimalism and love good design, you will appreciate Snow Peak’s camping gear.

Design influences from the brand’s Japanese heritage meld perfectly with modern technology; the stainless-steel bowl and spork that we took on the trail were easy to clean, durable enough to be shoved in our pack and beautiful enough that we didn’t want to put it away.

Vasque Breeze III hiking boots ($150)

Vasque’s Breeze III is ready to hike right out of the box. Photo: Gale Straub

The third iteration of the massively popular Breeze hiking boot, the Breeze III requires no break-in period. I unpacked them from their box and immediately hit the trail for a 6-mile hike to camp.

For those of you who prefer more heel support, the Breeze may not be for you. I tend to go for a roomier heel box, and the Vasque is perfect for those of you who like a wider, lightweight option.

Osprey Viva 50 pack ($180)

Osprey’s packs provide enough support and comfort on the trail to make 14 miles pass by like a breeze. Photo: Gale Straub

Osprey is known around the world for their premier packs and for continually pushing the boundaries of what it means to be lightweight on the trail.

For those who have never backpacked before, it is inevitable to feel a little discomfort on your first trek. If you’ve never worn a pack before, it will engage muscle groups and parts of your body that have likely never been tested in the same way.

Ledlenser MH10 headlamp ($80)

The Ledlenser headlamp is so lightweight, some of our crew forgot they had them on during the daylight hours. Photo: Gale Straub

One thing we can’t get over when it comes to Ledlenser’s products: price point.

However, the Ledlenser also boasts premium performance. The zoom feature keeps the beam of light sharp and intact; you won’t see any fuzzy edges or dark rings here.

Leatherman Squirt PS4 ($33)

Amy May of JAM Collective showing the group how to navigate the Leatherman mini-tool. Photo: JAM Collective

The age-old conundrum of flying to your camping destination: You want to be able to bring a multi-tool with you so that you can efficiently tackle any campsite task, but you don’t want to have to check a bag just to get it there.

Leatherman took these concerns into consideration and produced their mini-tool, the Squirt PS4. Not only is the Squirt legal to take in a carry-on bag, but it also performs just as well as a full-size tool.

We used the mini-tool to open cans and containers and marveled at its functionality and size.

Otterbox Elevation 10 tumbler ($25)

The Otterbox Elevation 10 tumbler used copper insulation to keep our coffee hot and beer cold. Photo: Gale Straub

Copper lining and efficient design help the Otterbox Elevation 10 stand out in a sea of insulated cups and water bottles. We used ours for morning coffee, afternoon beer and campfire whiskey, and the Elevation held its own with each temperature requirement.

Despite its small size and lightweight feel, the tumbler boasts a 100 percent stainless-steel composition that makes it durable enough for backpacking when the going gets tough.

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