Backpacking Essentials and Guide: By Mountainsmith

Trigg Skoe


By Michael Berg


If you are interested in the Colorado outdoor scene and have never backpacked before, then you should start planning your next trip now. I would argue that there is no better way to immerse yourself into the “Colorado lifestyle” than by grabbing a pack and hitting the trail for a couple days. For a moment, I encourage you all to escape the monotony of school and the seemingly endless crowds of tourists to take on a backpacking trip. In order to give you some stellar, useful advice for backpacking, we teamed up with Mountainsmith  who is a true Colorado native company that has specialized in making world class outdoor gear for 40 years:

How to Pack the Right Way (It takes some planning to have a successful trip, so here’s some advice from the pros.)

  • Pack Light: No seriously, there’s nothing worse than having a pack that weighs as much as you do. Here is some advice on how to do so:
    • Clothes: Bring enough clothes for your essentials. That’s it. No more, no less. Enough layers to stay warm and keep dry when needed. Also, lightweight/dual purpose clothing items are your best friend. Remember that this isn’t Saturday night out on the town, so leave those high heels or cowboy boots at home folks. Outdoor clothing could be its own article, so simply Google “what to wear backpacking” for a detailed list of clothing basics.
    • Weather permitted: Before leaving the comforts of your home, check the weather once and then check it twice. Make sure your gear resembles the predicted weather. This can greatly increase or decrease your pack size depending on what thermal and protective gear is needed for you to be safe and cozy in the backcountry.

    • Scream 20 Backpack: This small pack is perfect to use on day hikes from your backpacking campsite to hold water and snacks. Referred to as “the swiss army knife of minimalist packs”, the new Scream 20 converts from an ultralight day pack to a stuff sack for sleeping bags, warm layers, dirty clothes, and muddy boots. Weighing just 14oz, the pack is ideal for ultralight peak bagging and trail runs or as a stash pack for longer backpacking adventures. Tuck the shoulder straps into the back panel sleeve and the Scream 20 becomes a compression sack with reinforced roll-top closure and compression straps for more efficient packing on and off the trail.
  • Food: Pack enough food to keep you properly energized and fueled, but only pack lightweight and high weight-to-energy food. It helps to be prepared by planning/rationing your meals out for the whole trip. Think about meals that don’t produce heavy waste, so cans are a no-go. Think dry food or anything that comes in a bag. Light, salty snacks are great. Remember that you usually need less than you think, and split parts of your meals with your friends. We recommend keeping all of your food in one stuff sack so that it helps you see how much you actually have, and keeps it all together when you go to tie up your food at night.
  • Water: This is arguably the most important thing you will need, especially when you are exerting yourself at high altitude. We recommend using a hydration bladder to store your water so it’s easily accessible when hiking and it weighs practically nothing. Two to three liter packs are sufficient for most backpacking trips; however, don’t forget that you’ll need a way to replenish your water supply during your trip. Gravity water filters are my personal favorite, and are super handy for big groups of people, but hand pump filters work well for individuals as well. Always remember to have a backup system for getting drinkable water, such as iodine tablets or a system to boil water, because your main system can unexpectedly fail at any time.

In closing, we would like to remind you that this is not a comprehensive list for backpacking. Rather, this is important packing advice that any backpacker should be aware of. For a more comprehensive list of backpacking advice, visit Mountainsmith’s Forged For Life Blog  and check out their articles on backpacking which cover anything from how to elevate your backpacking food game to insider secrets on top local trails to explore in Colorado. Cheers to your next great backpacking adventure!

You can find Mountainsmith  online at, in Fort Collins stores such as Jax, REI and Sierra Trading Post, or at their store in Golden, Colorado. Phone: (800) 551-5889