Gear Up, Michigan! 10 Northern Michigan Camping and Hiking Essentials

Find Northern Michigan camping and hiking gear recommended by Up North outfitters for your next trip to Northern Michigan’s outdoors. Bypass the struggle of searching for that perfect product in a wilderness of choices, and trust that you’ll find what you need right here. MyNorth contacted the pros from Jay’s Sporting Goods in Gaylord and Backcountry North in Traverse City, who drew on their trail experiences to recommend 10 pieces of indispensable gear. Here are 10 camping and hiking essentials with product recommendations:


outdoors ← 1) Water Purifier: Pristine water may be everywhere you turn in Northern Michigan, but on an overnight hiking trip, you need to be certain that you have access to quality drinking water whenever you’re thirsty. That means you’ll need to have a reliable water purifier on hand. Valerie, of Jay’s Sporting Goods in Gaylord, recommends the Sawyer MINI water purifier. “It’s lightweight, easy to use, and best of all, affordable.” This purifier removes 99.999% of all bacteria and protozoa. It also fits in your hand and weighs just 2 ounces! In fact, the Sawyer MINI will be Valerie’s source for drinking water on her British Columbian excursion this summer.

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2) Packing Water: Unless you’re planning on taking multiple stops to put your purifier to use, plan on taking more than one water carrier. It’s not a bad idea to have a bottle for times when you’re away from your pack and a pouch with a drinking straw for when you’re hiking with a pack. Check out the Antidote Resevoir at Jay’s Sporting Goods which comes in 1.5 liter, 2 liter, and 3 liter sizes. →

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← 3) Backcountry Cooking Gear: When it’s time to get cooking in the backcountry, don’t get carried away. Keep it simple and efficient. Backcountry North offers a number of different portable stoves for backpacking. The MSR Whisperlite is a classic but if you want to cook as efficiently as possible, the Microrocket is the perfect choice. It weighs only 2.6oz! Vicki Hoornstra, Camping & Footwear Manager at Jay’s Sporting Goods, recommends the Optimus Crux Lite Terra Solo Cook System. “I like how light weight it is and it also holds a small fuel canister inside. My favorite eating utensil to camp with is the Optimus Titanium Long spoon. It reaches all the way to the bottom of a freeze dried food pouch.”


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4) Headlamp: At nighttime, you’ll want a hands-free flashlight to light the way. Vicki, recommends any headlamp from Princeton Tec. “Princeton Tec. headlamps are lightweight, bright, compact, and most operate on AAA batteries.” →


5) Footwear: When you’re out on the trail for days at a time, keeping your feet in optimal shape is a top priority. Look for waterproof hiking boots. The rockier and root-sier the trail, the more ankle support you’re going to need. Tracy of Backcountry North recommends The Vasque Breeze 2.0 GTX. “These boots give you the support you need without taking a lot of time to break-in. The GoreTex waterproof membrane keeps your feet dry and wide widths are available to get your best fit.” To keep your feet dry, Tracy recommends the Medium Cushion Hiking Tech sock from Point6, and when it’s time to air your feet out, slip on The Keen Newport H2 water sandal. “This sandal has a sturdy outsole with excellent front toe protection. Plus, you can wear them in the water or on the trail, and the heel loops at the back of the sandal making it a breeze to clip to your pack with a carabiner,” Tracy notes.


 outdoors 6) Tent:  When packing out a tent, the lighter the load, the less your dogs will be barking. “The Eureka Amari Pass 2 is light-weight, has a nice covered entry, and is easy to set-up,” says Patty of Jay’s Sporting Goods. With a mesh tent body and end-entry to aid ventilation, the Amari is well-vented and versatile. If you’re looking for a spot to test out your tent, Patty recommends an overnighter on South Manitou Island where you can hike for hours in the solitude of a stunning landscape


camping gear 7) Sleeping Bag →                     A strenuous hike requires a good night’s sleeping bag. “Big Agnes has a sleeve on the back of the bag that a sleeping pad can be inserted into, so you don’t slide off your pad in the middle of the night,” notes Brenda of Jay’s. With an integrated full pad sleeve, you never have to roll off your sleeping pad again! This bag is made with DownTek water repellent insulation, has a built-in pillow pocket, and its rectangular shape offers more shoulder and foot space, so you don’t feel constricted.


8) Backpack:  A sturdy, comfortable and spacious pack is critical for a backcountry overnighter. Valerie recommends a Deuter pack for backcountry overnighters. “The Deuter USA AC Aera packs are form-fitting, lightweight, and have an H2O port. They’re also big enough to hold a lot of gear.” Deuter packs can open from the front for easy on trail access. They also have padded shoulder and hip straps, wet laundry compartments, mesh side pockets, a detachable rain cover and attachments for a drinking tube and hiking pole, but the best part…the Deuter USA AC Aera pack weighs in at just 3 lbs! ↓

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9) Trail Maps: Never lose your way with a reliable trail map and compass. Northern Michigan trail systems are abundant, and choosing your path will be a lot easier with reliable resources. Find a library of Michigan Trail Maps available at ShopMyNorth where you’ll discover 50 Hikes in Michigan, Michigan’s Best Campgrounds, Backpacking in Michigan, Classic Trails of Michigan plus more! When you’ve nailed down your backcountry plans, don’t forget to pick-up a compass or navigational tool. Backcountry North recommends the Suunto A-10 compass to keep you on track, and if you have trail-specific questions, stop by a visitors center near the trail head.


10) Insect Repellent: This summer, the outdoors are buzzing, and learning how to protect yourself from mosquito and tick bites can make your time hiking and camping more enjoyable. Find everything you need to know about tick and mosquito bite prevention from Medical Entomologist at the Michigan Department of Community Health, Erik Foster, and Jan Swift-Godzisz, Manager of Infection Prevention at Munson Medical Center.


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