We love our backyard backpacking trips. But with the amount of time we’ve all spent close to home in the last year and a half, it might feel like you’ve hiked just about every trail at your hometown forests and parks and camped at every tent site. This fall, with temperatures dropping and foliage beauty climbing, it’s time to switch it up and head out on a road trip to explore a new area and explore some new trails. Pack these five pieces of gear and head out on the road to our favorite backpacking destinations.
1. LifeStraw Go Water Filter Bottle
Whether you’re on the road or the trail, stopping to keep hydrated can be time-consuming and annoying. No more with the Lifestraw Go: Just fill it up from a stream, sketchy gas station faucet, or alpine lake, screw on the cap, and drink like-normal while the built-in filter takes care of bacteria and parasites, microplastics, silt, sand, and cloudiness and improves taste.
Where to Go: The St. Regis Canoe Area
There are few places on earth with better fall foliage than the lakes of New York’s Adirondacks. Take a canoe or kayak to the St. Regis Canoe Area, a wilderness region specifically designed for paddlers. Work your way back to St. Regis Pond and look up toward St. Regis Mountain, aglow with fall color. Your LifeStraw Go is the perfect water filter for a canoe trip: Just dunk it and paddle.
2. Black Diamond Spot 350 Headlamp
With the days getting progressively shorter, you’re going to need a headlamp before you know it. The Spot 350’s blazing 350 lumens is plenty to light the trail during an overnight hike. Easy-to-use buttons make operation simple. And additional modes like peripheral lighting and brightness memory make it customizable to whatever your activity.
Where to Go: Bridger Wilderness Area
Titcomb Basin, northeast of Pinedale is a life-list backpacking destination made even better by cool fall temps and even traces of early snow in the alpine beyond the lakes. An endless alpine landscape of lakes and granite domes and peaks far from civilization, spend some time night hiking and looking at the stars.
3. Therm-A-Rest Corus 20 Quilt
Sleep your best in the backcountry without knowing you’re there. A quilt like the Corus 20 has no bottom, which means you’ll feel like you’re at home under the covers, rather than car camping or backpacking, and you’ll save weight carrying it there. A generous amount of 650 fill down means it’s as warm as you need for chilly fall nights.
Where to Go: The San Juan National Forest
The San Juan Mountains are some of the more remote in Colorado. Grab some food from riverside Animas Brewing Company in the region’s big town, Durango (do a little fly fishing in the Animas River while you’re there), then explore the start of the Colorado Trail, which begins just northwest of town.
4. Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody
When the temps start to cool down without dropping into parka weather, you need just enough insulation to take the bite off without taking up any room in your pack. Enter: The Micro Puff. Synthetic insulation is plenty warm for temps in the 40s (while you’re not moving) and it packs down to about the size of a softball.
Where to Go: Custer-Gallatin National Forest
Bozeman is a winter hotspot for skiers and ice climbers, but fall backpacking up the valleys south of town is more than enough to make it a shoulder-season destination as well. Venture down Hyalite Canyon and camp below Hyalite Peak, looking down on a valley of fall color and cool temps—You’ll want that extra jacket.
5. Osprey Stratos/Sirrus 36 Backpack
Big enough for a shoulder season day hike but also roomy enough to carry a few pieces of overnight gear for a lightweight single-night trip, the Stratos (men’s) and Sirrus (women’s) might be the only pack you need for a trip like this. And you won’t be sacrificing anything in the way of comfort, organization, and features.
Where to Go: Wenatchee National Forest
Just a couple hours from Seattle, you’d be forgiven for being surprised to feel like you made a quick trip to another country. Leavenworth’s Bavarian theme is worth spending an entire day exploring (a hot dog from just about anywhere in town is fantastic) but take some time to dayhike Icicle Ridge or pack your backpack and go a little deeper into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness overnight.