6 Essentials For Your First Group Backpacking Trip

Are you looking for a new way to hang out with your closest friends and explore the world? Try a group backpacking trip! If it’s your first time hitting the trails, or if you’ve never hiked with a group before, there are a few things to keep in mind.

You’ll want to find a location that works for everyone, map out a trail that can accommodate any and all physical needs, and decide on the sights you’d like to see along the way. You’ll also need to compile a list of backpacking essentials you’ll have to carry with you. These 6 items should be at the top of your list for your next group hike:

1. Food and water

First things first – you and your friends will want to make sure you have plenty of food and water to get you through your trip. Dehydrated or Freeze-Dried food can help lighten the load of your pack. They just need to be reconstituted with boiling water and that's where the Kelly Kettle is invaluable.  Freeze-Dried foods can really add some variety to your snack selection. Of course, you can also pack canned goods to prepare some hot meals over a campfire with your group. There are portable cooking utensils and tools available today that make it possible to have a gourmet meal right at your campsite. Wood Fueled Stoves eliminate the need to carry gas canisters and keep your pack weight down. Be sure you have plenty of bottled water as well, or access to a water supply and outdoor water filter such as the x-stream Water Purifier. A reliable water source ensures you’ll all stay hydrated and have plenty of meal options.

2. Shelter and weather gear

The beautiful part of hiking with a group is sharing the load. Even if you plan to sleep under the stars, it’s still important to have a form of shelter in case the weather is unexpected. However, you don’t have to break up the party. Have someone pack a tarp that covers enough ground for your whole group. You can even get a six person tent to share! Just be sure you each have a sleeping bag and sleeping pad that can withstand a variety of cold and wet weather conditions. Also, make sure everyone has packed the right clothing – a raincoat, weatherproof boots, gloves and a hat. Having the right shelter and weather gear ensures that everyone stays warm and dry from morning dew, rain or other moisture.

3. Plenty of light

If you’re backpacking overnight, you’ll need a few light sources as well, especially if you’re camping before Daylight Savings Time, when the sun goes down earlier in the evening. Since you’ll be with a group, it’s important that everyone can see around your campsite so no one is stumbling around. Depending on the nature of your trip, you may decide that your campfire will be the main light source. If this is the case, make sure you have plenty of fire starters and matches with you. If you prefer to have extra light sources on hand, pack some extra batteries for your flashlight, headlamp or lantern.

4. Multi-tool

A multi-tool or pocket knife is a small addition to your backpacking checklist, but could save you a lot of trouble. You can use a knife to cut branches for kindling a fire or cut rope to pitch your tent. A multi-tool also has pliers, small scissors and other gadgets that could come in handy. If it’s your first time backpacking, don’t pass up the chance to make your journey easier with a multi-tool.

5. Map and compass

While you’ll be with good company, the last thing you want to do is get lost in the woods with no cell signal and limited daylight. Someone in your group should carry a map and a compass to navigate. You may have a GPS system with advanced tracking features that can signal a rescue team in case of an emergency, but even technology can fail. To be extra cautious, stick with a map and compass as a backup, especially if it’s your first time backpacking.

6. First aid kit

Finally, when you’re preparing for your first group backpacking trip, don’t forget to pack a first aid kit that includes bandages, gauze, antiseptic and other essentials. Chances are, someone from your party may scratch or bump something and could use a little light care. While you probably won’t have to prepare for anything life-threatening, it’s still nice to know you’ll have what you need for most situations. Making memories with those you love is the best way to spend your free time. As you and your friends plan your first group backpacking trip, keep these items in mind and you’ll be off to a great start. 

Written by Alex Gillespie, Writer & Outdoor Enthusiast on behalf of the Kelly Kettle Co.