We are all drawn to the open trail, our gear on our back and map in hand, searching for some solitude next to a campfire far beyond the lights of the city.

When you decide to leave the campground behind and make the leap to the backcountry, there is a lot to consider. My first backpack was a hand-me-down Gregory and it took me years to accumulate the necessary gear to support me in the wilderness as a bona fide backpacker.

Loading up your pack, leaving the car far behind, and carrying everything you need on your back combine to raise the stakes from your standard day hike or car camping overnight. But with a little planning and preparation, you’ll be set for some of the most memorable outdoor experiences of your life.