If you're a hiker, camper, or backpacker you've probably at least heard of a couple of these hiking, backpacking, and camping gear myths. We're debunking them one by one so you know how to make the most of your time in the backcountry.
- Myth: You need a tent footprint to protect to floor of your tent from the ground.
- Reality: Tent fabrics have improved and become more durable in past years. In fact, almost all tents have bombproof and waterproof floors that don't typically wear out (unless you're a constant user). Of course, they do help add an extra layer of protection, but they aren't exactly necessary.
- Myth: Two people can fit in a 2 person tent.
- Reality: The majority of two-person tests are actually pretty small to fit two people comfortably. If you're one who likes to have a little extra space, we suggest you size up to a three-person tent, especially if two adults will be sharing the tent.
- Myth: You need a 4-season camp to keep you warm and comfortable in the winter.
- Reality: Your tent doesn't necessarily keep you warm, your sleeping bag does. As long as you pack some extra layers and have a sleeping bag rated for cold temperatures you can camp in any tent in the winter. However, we do suggest that you bring a tent with steep walls if you're expecting heavy snow, so it doesn't congregate and cave your tent ceiling (which can also damage the poles).
- Myth: You'll sleep warmer if you sleep naked in a sleeping bag.
- Reality: Who made this crap up? Everyone knows (or should know) that the more layers you have, the warmer you'll be. Throw on some base layers, a hat, or jacket and keep yourself warm.
- Myth: Waterproof (and breathable) rain jackets are in fact breathable.
- Reality: Can a jacket that's supposed to "protect" you from the rain really be that breathable? If you want to stay dry in a rain jacket, we suggest getting one with pit zips and mesh zones so you can vent your sweat the old-fashioned way. It also helps for a breeze if the rain causes the humidity to rise.
Backpack Rain Covers
- Myth: You need a backpack rain cover to hike in the rain and keep your stuff dry.
- Reality: Backpack rain covers tend to rip or fall of your bag while you're hiking, and they actually don't keep your pack very dry. Some backpackers just simply line their pack with a trash compactor bag, which seems to be more effective at keeping your gear dry. If you want to keep the outside of your pack dry, we suggest just slapping on that backpack rain cover in addition to the compactor bag, just to be safe.
- Myth: You need hiking or backpacking boots to go backpacking.
- Reality: Of course the shoes or boots you wear while you’re out on the trails is based on your preference. In fact, a lost of backpackers today are actually wearing running shoes, which seem to be cooler, softer, and more breathable than hiking boots, especially in hot weather. However, some companies are revamping their hiking shoe lines to resemble running shoes so you can stay comfortable and get all the protection you need. You get to decide what works best for your feet.
Waterproof Hiking Boots
- Myth: Waterproof hiking boots keep your feet dry.
- Reality: While it may seem like common sense: buy waterproof hiking boots and your feet will stay dry. In fact, hiking boots are only as waterproof as their outer coating is applied, and lasting. Depending how much time you spend in your hiking boots, waterproof coatings do tend to degrade over time, making your waterproof boots not so waterproof anymore. They also tend to trap and insulate perspiration, causing your socks to get damp (your socks matter too!), which could leave to blisters. If you’re not looking to re-apply a waterproof coat a bunch of times, we suggest a pair of more breathable shoes with mesh that may dry a little quicker.
Maps and Technology
- Myth: You don’t need maps and a compass if you have a GPS.
- Reality: You should always carry a map and a compass, and learn how to use them. Your GPS should not replace a map and compass, it should complement it. You should also have a map and a compass in case your GPS fails (we all know technology does), or if you're unexpectedly run out of batteries. Trust us, you don’t want to get lost in the backcountry.
- Myth: Technology takes away from your time in the outdoors.
- Reality: While technology isn’t something “ideal” in the outdoors, it is nice to have. It can even help save you from something dangerous (if you have a connection). Check out the best apps for hiking to help you skillfully navigate the backcountry. Just remember to take a deep breath of fresh air and put your phone down so you can enjoy the view.
Don’t let these myths fool you! If you trust your gut, follow our tips, and do what seems right, you’ll be thriving in the backcountry.