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BACKPACKING

What is backpacking?

Backpacking is carrying your shelter, bed, kitchen, food, water and wilderness supplies on your back in order to visit remote, beautiful and interesting areas of nature not accessible on a day hike. You could consider it a way of traveling with as little as possible. Its also a great way to hang out longer by your favorite lake or river

 

There are so many reasons and ways to backpack. You may want to go solo or with friends, for a through-hike or an overnight loop, carrying as little as possible (ultra-light) or taking all the luxuries (books, fancy meals, games).

Getting started Backpacking in Washington 

Backpacking involves planning a route, deciding what gear you want to take, who you want to go with and managing the various elements out in nature such as water access, weather, accidents, and other unknowns. 

This might seem overwhelming, however there are lots of ways to get started and you can grow your confidence and abilities over time. There’s no rush! It’s more important to enjoy the views.

If you’re unsure, nervous, or new to being out in nature overnight, it’s a good idea to start backpacking with somebody that has experience, and even better with experience of the particular area you want to backpack in. Utah deserts are a lot different to Washington forests.

The kind of backpacking gear you will want is lightweight (but usually expensive). We take the sting out of lightweight backpacking costs by letting you try premium gear, all included free in your membership. The basics are a form of shelter, usually a tent, a form of bedding like a sleeping bag and pad, a way to heat food and water like a backpacking stove, a way to store and to eat your food, and a way to carry and filter water, as well as something to carry it all - a backpack!

 

You’ll also want to include your 10 essentials, plus some extra first aid and safety items - depending on the particular wilderness area you’ll be backpacking through. Over time you will come to know what you personally love having on a backpacking trip, and what you’d rather do without.

What you'll need to Backpack in the Pacific Northwest

Backpacking Gear

Book a kit or pick your gear.

Image by Halie West

Backpack

A well-fitting pack to hold all your gear can make the difference between fun vs painful.

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Cookware & Water Filtration

Hiking in the wilderness requires lots of energy and hydration. 

Image by Joshua Sukoff

Shelter

Protect yourself from the elements while sleeping. We have a variety of tent brands and sizes!

Image by Mohammad Alizade

Safety & Accessories

Besides clothes and shoes, Gearhouse has you covered!

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Sleep System

Pads and sleeping bags provide insulation and comfort, essential for resting after a long trek.

PNW Backpacking Packing List

It’s best to think of your packing list based on the following categories:

  • Shelter

    • Backpacking tent

    • Hammock

    • Tarp

  • Sleep System

    • Sleeping pad

    • Sleeping bag

    • Liner

    • Pillow

    • Dry sack

    • Compression sack

    • Zpad if snow camping

  • Cooking system

    • Stove

    • Mess kit + pot

    • Scraper

    • Mug

    • Spork

  • Food & Food storage: bear bin

  • Water & Filtration

    • Water bottle/reservoir

    • Water filter

    • Purification tablets

  • Pack: well sized for the amount of gear, food and water you are taking

  • First aid/Safety

    • Headlamp

    • Trekking poles

    • First aid kit

    • SOL kit

    • Communication

  • Clothing: layers for adding when wet or cold, and removing when sweating, beanie or cap

  • Important Accessories

    • Sunscreen

    • Bug spray

    • Lip balm

Camping Site in Mountains

Hone your skills: Intro to Backpacking

Getting into backpacking can be daunting -- from choosing the right location and dates, getting gear, planning a menu, and finding friends to go with. Gearhouse has you covered! Our Intro to Backpacking series is the perfect way to dip your toes in, with education and the chance to try premium, lightweight gear without breaking the bank.

 

You can take the complete 4-part series, or you can drop in on the aspects of backpacking you want to learn more about. 

 

Please note, only full course attendees are eligible for the Backpacking Graduation Trip.

Part 1: Ultralight Gear

$40, free for members

XC skiing is easy enough that anyone can do it and it's a great workout in the snow! It's as easy as walking and much more efficient than snowshoeing. This intro class will be on flat terrain - stay tuned for more advanced adventures that goes on rolling terrain!

Part 2: Backcountry Cooking

$40, free for members

XC skiing is easy enough that anyone can do it and it's a great workout in the snow! It's as easy as walking and much more efficient than snowshoeing. This intro class will be on flat terrain - stay tuned for more advanced adventures that goes on rolling terrain!

Part 3: Trip Planning

$40, free for members

Skate skiing is the next level for those that have tried Classic XC Skiing and gotten the hang of it! (Or for anyone that has skied or skated/roller bladed a lot). Come try the flowing nature of skate skiing and cover some distance! It's tricky to learn but once you get the hang of it, you'll never go back to classic. 

Part 4: Graduation Trip

$250, free for members

Skate skiing is the next level for those that have tried Classic XC Skiing and gotten the hang of it! (Or for anyone that has skied or skated/roller bladed a lot). Come try the flowing nature of skate skiing and cover some distance! It's tricky to learn but once you get the hang of it, you'll never go back to classic. 

Part 1: Ultralight Backpacking Gear

$40, free for members

Thursday, March 23rd

Backpacking is all about traveling light to be able to experience remote areas of nature. There are many ways to backpack, but the essential gear is the same. This session is about exploring the gear and how to use it.

Part 2: Backcountry Cooking

$40, free for members

Thursday, March 30th

Backcountry cooking can be a challenge for even seasoned backpackers. We'll get you off on the right foot by cooking different backpacking food options that you can prepare, taste, and experiment with right in the classroom.

Part 3: Trip Planning

$40, free for members

Thursday, April 6th

You'll learn how to choose a suitable route, how to prepare before the trailhead, on the trail, and for your return. You can explore several trip options using our physical maps at the space, and even plan out a full trip with friends.

Part 4: Graduation Trip

$250, free for members

Saturday, April 8th

We'll be heading to the Enchanted Valley on the Olympic Peninsula for a 1-night backpacking trip! You'll be sharing your trip with the other participants of the backpacking course. We'll help organizing carpools and distribution of mess kits and tents, and timing and logistics for the planned route covered on the Trip Planning night.

Skill Check 

What level am I?

Beginner

You’ve maybe never been backpacking, but enjoy the outdoors and have been hiking before. You may have experience car camping. You may have done a one-night backpacking trip.

Intermediate

You have a good level of fitness and can walk over 5 miles in a day, and are comfortable staying out in the wilderness for a night. You have familiarity with topographical maps and navigation. You can make good decisions about accessing water sources in the wilderness and make changes to your plans based on weather or conditions.

Advanced

You can comfortably stay a week or more in the wilderness. You’re able to make advanced decisions on routes and water sourcing using topographical maps and navigational skills. You can traverse more challenging terrain due to a high level of fitness and technical skill and have training in wilderness medicine.

Upcoming Events
  • Sep 27, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
    Gearhouse, 800 E Thomas St, Seattle, WA 98102, USA
    Part 3 of our Intro to Backpacking Series: from trailhead to home again, we cover the how-to of planning your first backpacking trip
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