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#The Lowdown

10 Essentials for Backpacking, Hiking, and Outdoor Adventures

By Travel Savvy

    Our host Paula sat down with Katherine Gividen, an author, teacher, backpacker outfitter, and President of The Louisiana Hiking Club (to name just a few of her accomplishments) to get the lowdown on everything you need to explore the outdoors.

    Click through to read her Top 10 Must-Have Products to bring on any hiking and backing adventure, in Louisiana and beyond! 

Compass from Dick's Sporting Goods 1

Photo Credit: Dick's Sporting Goods


Katherine recommends that you always download or purchase a topographic map of the area before you head out, and always have a standard compass handy. GPS batteries can die, or you may be too far out of range to use your smartphone. We love this durable, easy-to-use compass in a powder-coated protective aluminum housing.

Sunset over Baton Rouge Louisiana 2

Photo Credit: Billy Metcalf Photography | Creative Commons

Sun Protection

Sunglasses, proper clothing, and a strong sunblock are all necessary no matter what time of year it is. Clothes today have treatments for SPF as well, but even in the cold you’ll still want protection.

Tip: Check out our Travel Beauty Essentials video for our recommendations on SPF products!

Smartwool Womens T Shirt from REI 3

Photo Credit: REI


“You need to have light layers in case you end up staying past when you expected, because nighttime temps can dip drastically,” Katherine explains. Here’s what we can showcase, as it is moisture wicking and odor resistant.

Petzl Tikka Headlamp from The Backpacker 4

Photo Credit: The Backpacker


“Bring a headlamp, NOT A FLASHLIGHT,” warns Katherine, “because it helps you keep your hands free.” We recommend you try this one on for size.

Adventure Medical First Aid Kits 5

Photo Credit: Adventure Medical Kits

First Aid Kit

Your first-aid kid should include all of the standard bells and whistles such as band aids and neosporin, but also have a bit of moleskin for the back of your heel to avoid blisters, and pertinent personal medication (including epi pens, blood pressure pills, etc.) Katherine showed us one of these kits by adventure medical.


Photo Credit: West Marine

Things to Start a Fire With

Because, of course! Katherine recommends always having at least two ways to start a fire at the ready, so we recommend you bring both waterproof matches and lighter.

Leatherman Pocket tools 7

Photo Credit: Leatherman Pocket tools

Pocket Tool

Leatherman tools like this one are an absolutely essential. (Murphy’s Law is a fickle one, isn’t she?) You will also want duct tape (for any last minute repairs, like your boot.) Instead of a whole roll, just wrap some around your water bottle and unwrap as needed.

Power Bar Protein Snack Bar 8

Photo Credit: Power Bar Facebook Page

Extra Nutrition

Bring power bars and protein snacks that will help keep your energy up. Nuts and dried fruit are super light, and don't forget to pack a little extra in case you get lost.

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter in Use 9

Photo Credit: LifeStraw | Amazon


For a shorter trip, bringing a nalgene water bottle (filled up, of course) will be plenty. However, if you are going for a few hours or more, you should consider packing an actual lightweight water filter that you can carry in case you end up staying longer than expected or get lost. Water filters like this one, as well as water purification tablets, are essential for trips lasting more than a few hours.

Tarp Outdoor Shelter 10

Photo Credit: @peupleloup | Creative Commons | Flickr

Emergency Shelter

Any mylar or plastic lightweight shell (like this one) should always be in your backpack in the event of a surprise rain storm.


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