If we’re at this point I can’t stress mindset enough. Firstly, you are not your gear or your apparel. I know adventurers who go into the brush with nothing (they’re far more badass than I am) and adventurers who glamp with the weight on their back. I tend to lean a bit more toward the glamp with a bit of nuance. Also, if you’re new to this sort of thing I strongly recommend reading Is Cheap Gear Worth It in our how-to guides section. This might save you some money, pain, and stress on the trail.
Have a Safety Plan
This is absolutely imperative. You may be in an area without cell service where you could potentially face immediate and perilous threats. Adventures can present threats in the form of injury, weather, even people with nefarious intent. For more detail on this we strongly encourage you to read How to Develop a Safety Plan but, for the sake of redundancy (an important piece to any safety plan) here’s what we recommend:
Tell people where you’re going, when you expect to return and what to do if you don’t return at a specified time
Have a communication plan and a backup communication plan. For reference, we carry a cell phone and a handheld ham radio by Baofeng
Have navigational aids other than electronic options. This means a map and compass!
Consider carrying self defense items and training thoroughly in their usage
Push outside your comfort zone but trust your gut!
Have Footwear You Can Trust
You don’t have to spend all of your money on footwear but you need to know your boots are right for the job. If your feet fail you the chances of winding up in peril are much higher than if you’re missing your mess kit. This is your ability to GTFO and boogie oogie when the chips are down and let me tell you, that can happen.
We strongly recommend going to a professional outdoor store and consulting with their reps, let them know what you're looking for! A knowledgeable rep will find a good kicker that will suit your needs.
Do you need to spend hundreds? No. We rock anything from Asics to Solomans and just about everything in between.
A Good Ruck
A bad pack will cause pain, undue energy expenditure, won’t secure your kit and will likely fail when you need it. Go with the old saying “Buy once, cry once” and get a decent pack or learn to live off of truly minimal kit.
Additionally, be sure to train with your loaded pack at home to familiarize yourself and your body with the kit. As you do, you’ll notice muscle groups that might need additional attention (strength building, mobility, massage and/or stretching) in order to meet the goal you’ve set for yourself.
A Darn Good Knife
In fact we believe in carrying at least two good knives and a multi-tool. A daily pocket folder for general purpose, a multi-tool with a sharp blade for more precise work, and a large fixed blade knife for chopping wood and tinder, as well as self defense if necessary.
Cheap knives are fine for general utility, however make sure there's at least one strong, reputable, and sharp knife in your kit.
A Water Solution
Let’s get real, you won’t get far without clean drinking water, especially if you need that cup of instant coffee in the morning. Make sure to thoroughly research your trek before you go and find out if there are readily available water sources along your route. Your options for clean drinking water are straightforward, iodine tablets (gross), boiling using heavy metal canteens, and/or a filter system.
We highly recommend Sawyer’s Squeeze System. It is lightweight, portable, and we’ve been able to drink water from nearly any source without the massive loss boiling creates. These can be found for approximately $30 at a variety of retailers.
If you have to ruck your water in, be sure you’re aware of the weight you carry and your body’s abilities, it may mean sacrificing some kit to supplement your water supply.
There are some great camp meal options out there. From MRE style “instant” meals to dehydrated lightweight backpacking meals. Additionally, learning to forage for snacks is a great way to supplement low-calorie dense backpacking meals and enjoy the true flavors that nature has to offer.
When considering food for your kit, make sure to have a decent idea of what resources are available to you in the brush. If the only water will be what you ruck in, a dehydrated meal might not be a great option due to the amount of clean water they require to make. Contrarily, if your kit is already heavy as heck, adding heavier MRE style meals might become quite a bit of pain.
For MRE-style meals we prefer Omeals. They don’t offer squished Pop Tarts or the driest crackers in the world but they taste better, are lighter weight and offer impressive energy gains after eating.
For dehydrated meals we like Mountain House granola for breakfast and high protein Peak Refuel or Wild Zora meals. For the kids you can’t go wrong with Mountain House Lasagna with Meat Sauce, only issue they’ll eat so much they need a nap afterwards.
For snacks try to avoid melty things like chocolate and stick with nuts, dried fruit, and small single serve meat packets like tuna or SPAM (pro tip, fried spam is 10/10 delicious in the bush). Healthy carbohydrates are not only an easy to ruck option but offer your body the energy it needs to push harder.
We here at Adventures to Nowhere are hammock people. Ultimately your shelter is your home so we recommend what makes you most comfortable. We've met adventurers who swear by tents and some cool folks who DIY their own digs out in the bush (we're not that cool so hammock it is...)
When it comes to shelter make sure you're ready for weather regardless of what might come your way or you might have to be cool with an uncomfortable night or have a quick exit strategy.
We recommend when trying a new shelter system to do so close to home or close to your car just in case.
Pro tip: Find out if your gear is waterproof by making a little cup with the fabric and pouring some water into it. If it leaks through it ain't waterproof and in severe weather could turn deadly.
We strongly recommend items made from quick-dry or water resistant materials. Cotton hasn’t killed us (yet) but it’s not a smart choice. It’s comfortable but extremely inefficient. There are a million options out there for apparel and we recommend you research and try different items for yourself. Our main rule is make sure it’s not cotton-rich, generally quick-dry and durable.
You can spend a few paychecks on your apparel, if that's your thing we support you, but if you're that person with other priorities on top of adventure and exploring you can get absolutely get away with low and mid-priced apparel. Just be sure you're steering clear of absorbent fabrics like cotton.
Look, rural exploration has a lot of downtime. Usually we’ll download a couple Grand Tour episodes to our phone or bring a notebook for some writing when we’re not staring in wonderment at the landscape or setting up and tearing down equipment. Ultimately make sure it doesn’t load you down too much and that the comfort it brings is worth the weight.
One piece of comfort gear we love is a lightweight camping quilt. We use the Big Blue Mountain Lazy Bear camping blanket. It’s a great way to stay warmer in the morning while enjoying that cup of instant coffee.
Ultimately there are a lot of options and opinions out there for gear. Are we right? No. And really anyone who tells you their answer is the only answer is probably someone who shouldn't be listened to. These are the items that we’ve found that work for our purposes and budget in the bush. The best advice we can give is to make sure you’re warm, dry, and comfortable out in the thick.