Outbound Collective logo

The Essential Backcountry Art Kit

Slow your pace and on your next trip into the outdoors make time for some art therapy with this simple lightweight kit.

By: Sarah Horn + Save to a List

Don't let your concern for adding extra weight to your pack deter you from making art in the outdoors. Build a lightweight kit with these tools.

Taking time to soak up the scene around you and capture it in paint, pen or pencil can connect you to a place in a deeper way than quickly snapping a photo. It's also the perfect way to past time while you're waiting for a storm to pass or cozied up in your tent.  

The essential outdoor art kit: 

Waterproof bag - Keep your kit protected from the elements with a slim waterproof bag. I prefer the aLOKSAK bags, you can buy a variety pack from REI for around $15.

Refillable paintbrush - Keep natural water sources clean from watercolor pigments by using a refillable paintbrush. Use one of the small aLOKSOK bags to hold just your paintbrush in case it leaks. I like the Pentel Arts Aquash brushes. 

Travel-size watercolor palette - Keep it simple and carry a paired down watercolor palette. Winsor and Newton make one that comes in a sturdy plastic case containing 12 high quality watercolor cakes. It's refillable too while many other options in this price point aren't. 

Watercolor pencils - If you want to go even more lightweight, bring a selection of watercolor pencils instead of a palette. While it doesn't look exactly like watercolor after applying a water of water to it, it's certainly good enough. I like Prismacolor options the best.

Pocket watercolor notebook - Get the 3.5 inch x 5.5 inch leather bound watercolor sketchbook with an elastic band by Moleskin. It's the most compact, high quality option out there.

Pigma Micron pen - these pens are waterproof and fade proof and come in a variety of sizes and colors. I prefer using the sienna ink pens for landscapes as it is softer and complements watercolors well. 

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Do you love the outdoors?

Yep, us too. That's why we send you the best local adventures, stories, and expert advice, right to your inbox.


10 Things you need to do in Baja

wyld honeys

Journey to Wyoming’s premier snowmobiling destination: Togwotee Mountain Lodge

Samuel Brockway

Hiking in comfort: a review of Danner Mountain 600 Evo boots

Meghan White

Outdoor-Inspired Cocktails for Every Season

Noël Russell