How to Pack for Backpack Camping


The Ozark National Forest of Arkansas has absolutely captured my heart. In fact, this was my first camp and hike in the state of Arkansas. I have since become a seasoned veteran of the area, but have no fear, even beginners can start here (yes that was supposed to rhyme).

My boyfriend and I continue to go back to this forest even when we are looking for a new place to explore. I have slept in a cave, in a riverbed, on rocks, and on grass (the cave is my favorite spot). You can car camp or backpack and there is no shortage of spots to settle.

Many local gas stations (country kitchens in these parts) will have local maps of trailheads or camping locations for you to get your bearings so please take advantage of them! I went last week and still had to stop and get a map. Yes the old school kind where you actually have to know how to read to get somewhere.

The Goat Trail of Buffalo National River continues to be our favorite hike and it happens to land us right in our cave spot. This also happens to be the highest point from Mexico to the Smokey Mountains. And yes, I slept in this cave.


Packing for a Backpack Camp

Now, to appear to be an experienced camper, you DO NOT need to go out and spend a thousand dollars on equipment. Getting your gear set up for the first time won’t be cheap, but I can tell you what I have found to be necessities along the way:

  1. Helinox Big Agnes Chair ($99.95 at most outdoor retailers – and yes the bigger chair is better) – this chair is lightweight and packable which makes it easy to set up shop on any surface for the night
  2. OutdoorsmanLab Ultralight Sleeping Pad ($43.95 on Amazon) – this sleeping pad is the best bang for the buck and I have slept on even the most rocky, lumpy terrain with this baby

  3. AEGISMAX Outdoor Urltra-Light Goose Down Sleeping Bag ($75.00 on Amazon) Рlightweight and packable sleeping bag for any camp temperature and rated for 8 degrees Celsius 

  4. Jet boiler Personal Cooking System ($49.95-99.95 at Academy Sports and Outdoors) – quickly boils water to make backpacking meals and coffee

The rest is really up to you. You will of course need things like utensils (88 cents at Walmart) to eat with, sacks to put clothes in (Osprey makes great ones in different sizes), food (Mountain House is delicious and inexpensive at Walmart), and hiking boots/shoes.

I did my first few hikes in regular tennis shoes, and I promise you will do your feet a favor by never making the same mistake I did. Merrell makes super comfortable hiking boots and shoes for men and women but my Patagonia train shoes have stayed the driest in wet weather.

Comment for any questions you might have about what to pack or where to go in Arkansas!





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