Having the proper gear for an activity can make a world of difference to make trips and activities substantially easier and more comfortable. While there is nothing wrong with roughing it, over time I have finally learned (usually the painful way) that small improvements to the quality of equipment can drastically the enjoyment factor of an activity. As I have gradually accumulated gear over the years, here are some of the best investments I have made.
Deuter Backpack- While hiking the Inca Trail in Peru with a large yet uncomfortably full backpack, I decided it was time to get a real hiking pack. I visited REI, tried on numerous packs, and read up on reviews online about my favorites before deciding on the Deuter AirContact 65 +10. It is large enough to easily fit all camping necessities, while not too large that I would be tempted with bringing extra weight. It has a comfortable carrying system with an easily changeable back adjustment, small pouches on the hip straps- perfect for snacks, the bottom of the bag is separated yet accessible through a zipper to the main compartment, and there are plenty of gear straps to attach any additional equipment. I have used mine for several multiple-day hikes through nature as well as on my three month backpacking tour around the world. It was perfectly compatible for both types of trips.
Osprey Ultralight Rain Cover- One useful accessory for the backpack is a rain cover. The Osprey Ultralight Rain cover serves as both a rain cover for the bag while hiking, as well as a durable carrier duffel for the bag while transiting through the airport. Arriving at a campsite with a backpack containing a dry sleeping bag and dry clothes can turn a damp cold night of not sleeping into a chance to dry out and escape the rain. Also it prevents damage to the exterior of the backpack while in transit by taking the brunt of the abuse.
Therm-a-Rest Neo-Air Xtherm Sleeping Pad- The two main types of sleeping pads available are air pads or foam pads. Foam pads tend to be more affordable, easier, and more durable, but the downside is that they are bulkier and compress over time. Air pads are more expensive, prone but most backpackers find them to be much more comfortable than foam pads and smaller to transport. This is an affordable option of one of the most comfortable air mattresses on the market and comes with a small repair kit. Although I have also been concerned about the possibility of a tear, I have yet to need the kit and have greatly appreciated how little space this requires.