Exercise doesn't always mean "gym," and getting outside for a weekend hike or camping trip can be a great way to mix up your routine. Nothing can kill a weekend camping trip faster, however, than daunting yourself with over-preparation. Most of the time, the extra gear is considered luxury. To truly "rough it," you only need a few basic items to fit into your backpack.
1) Backpack. Obviously. Consider this the equivalent of a suitcase you would take with you on any overnight trip. Having all your gear in one place helps minimize a lot of awkward carrying.
2) Tent. Tents come in a variety of shapes and forms. Many weigh as little as a couple of pounds, some weigh upwards of 10. Pick what is practical. You don't need an eight-man-sleeper if you only have two campers.
3) Pocketknife. This is mostly for the unexpected and possible protection against the wild. But many pocketknives have a variety of options such as compasses, spoons, saws, etc.
4) Cell phone. This isn't so you can order takeout in the wilderness. This is just in case you get lost. Through a process of "pinging," carriers can detect which radio tower last received a signal from your phone. This is a common strategy used by emergency workers, and can help you out even if your hike takes you into a place without coverage (now you're roughing it!).
5) Water bottle. It's generally not a good idea to drink from a stream or a nearby pond unless absolutely necessary for survival. Instead, make sure you fill up one - or a few - water bottles ahead of time. If you know you'll be gone for a full day and can't pack a lot of water, consider bringing along a good water filter as well. We can recommend the SportMixer to meet your needs.
6) Flashlight/Lantern. Either option is fine. Just make sure you have enough battery power and/or lighter fluid to last the whole trip.
7) Sleeping bag. Even more so than a tent, you need a quality sleeping bag appropriate for the expected weather. If you are hiking in a warmer climate, you can probably get away with a bag with a 40-degree temperature minimum. And maybe even ditch the tent and sleep under the stars.
8) Food. Just remember not to overdo it. You only need enough to sustain yourself. Not to give yourself a calorie surplus. Light snacks and a few items that can be heated over a fire will serve you well. The GoStak works well in this regard, and attaches easily to the outside of your backpack for quick snacking on the go. No need to even unzip your pack.
9) A fire starter. The easiest way is with a lighter, but some purists opt for a flint rod. If you're feeling especially rugged (and patient), you can use sticks. (ProTip: just bring a lighter.)
10) First aid kid. Always take a first aid kit whether it's a simple hike or a weekend camping trip. The outdoors can be violent territory and simple first aid can save you from untreated wounds that could turn into something more serious. Learn any useful tips? Share this post with your friends!