How NOT To Suck at Backpacking
Look: Backpacking can suck big time, we won’t lie, but that’s only bound to happen if you don’t have the right gear and you’re not clued up on the basics. One of the first and foremost golden rules of backpacking is that you’ll have to limit the amount of gear you take, this means keeping your pack weight down to a minimum. Newbies should plan to pack for a trip that is less than a week long. You can obviously go for longer than a week but it would be highly suggested to start off a bit smaller.
About Your Backpack
A good hiking backpack shouldn’t exceed 30% of your own bodyweight, but that’s just a general rule of thumb, so go lighter if you can. Actually, if you can, definitely go lighter! There is no point lugging around that is heavy when it is empty!
Planning Your Hiking Distance
For your first day of hiking, try sticking to a 10-mile route. This will Ensure that you have the opportunity to really get out into the wilderness, but still ensures that you won’t drop dead (figuratively speaking obviously) at the campsite. As you gain more and more experience, you’ll be able to push your daily mileage to roughly 20 or 30 miles within a few months.
The Deal with Hiking Solo
While the idea of being a solo-traveling backpacker sounds idyllic to most of us, the truth is that most hiking newbies won’t find it that amazing. One of the best ways to ensure that you’re going about things in the right fashion is to embark on your mission with one or two backpacking friends, friends that have past experience and that’ll be able to show you the ropes with things that you’re not 100% sure about.
Where to Go Hiking for the First Time
The hiking trail that you’ll use as your training grounds doesn’t have to be the one that everyone is talking about. In fact, which route you end up using will mostly be determined by the time frame that you have to complete the hike. Other factors such as the shape that you’re in (yes, your fitness level), how much elevation gain you’re willing and able to take on, the weather, and your logistics for getting to the trail and back will also play determining roles when it comes to picking an ideal route.
What Gear to Take Along
While you’ll probably want to alter the list of gear pieces you need to take along with you on your first hike, most hikers require the following things while they’re out in the backcountry:
· Tools and a repair kit
· Something to make fire with
· A first-aid kit
· Flashlights or a headlamp
· Weatherproof clothing
· Sunglasses and sunscreen
· A GPS or plain old map and compass
Some other essential pieces of gear (which can be packed if you have the space and available weight for it) include things such as a compact camping stove, a two-or-three person tent, a water purification system, and a backpacking pot or kettle.
The Clothes That Make the Hiker
The clothing that you choose to wear during your first backpacking expedition will ultimately have a lot to do with the overall success of your hike. You want to ensure that you’re geared up in materials that can air-dry quickly and that are able to wick moisture away. If you’re planning on hiking in cold weather conditions, make sure that you’re protecting yourself with thermal base layers.
When it comes to your hiking shoes, you want to ensure that they’re seriously comfortable and well broken in; the trail is not the place to give them a test drive! You might also want to consider packing a pair of flops so that you can kick off the warm hiking boots and slip into something more comfortable around the campsite.
Read THIS If You Plan an Overnight Trip
If you plan on setting up camp for a multi-day hiking trip, you’re going to want to ensure that you’re kitted out with the right stuff in order to ensure a good night’s sleep out in the backcountry. You’ll need a compressible sleeping bag that’s also lightweight, and the choice between down fill and synthetic will obviously depend on whether or not you’re camping out during the winter months and your budget for this piece of gear.
Investing in a sleeping pad is also a great idea since you’ll have some cushioning and extra insulation against the cold, hard ground, two things that offer you a little more luxury while you’re roughing it out there. Sleeping pads generally come in three different types: air, self-inflating, and closed-cell options, so make sure you do your homework and stick to something that works for your needs.
We’ve given you a basic guide that’ll help you ensure that you’re geared up and ready for your first hike. We hope that this post has been helpful in respect of arming you with the information you’ll need to plan an epic first backpacking trip. Remember that while backpacking is a fun recreational activity, it’s still up to you to ensure that you’re as comfortable as can be while you’re making due with the bare minimum. As always, keep things on the safe side and remember to have fun!
About The Author
I’m Dan, and I’m the Editor in Chief of True North Athletics. I’m also an avid adventurer, digital nomad and traveler. I enjoy all types of outdoor sports, a good golf tan, and spontaneous weekend trips. I currently live in Brazil where I can be found frequently hiking the rain forest around my city!