Backpacking is one of the most enjoyable outdoor sports. While many people enjoy the challenge, it’s also a great way to simply be in nature and get a breath of fresh air.
Whether you’re trying to beat a personal record, looking for a new, challenging adventure, or just getting out in nature, you should always spend time preparing for a backpacking trip. Though it might sound easy to many newcomers – like a combination of hiking and camping it can be difficult and dangerous. But one of the perks of backpacking is that you can make it as challenging or as relaxing as you want it just depends on when and where you go.
Backpacking is not only fun, but it’s good for you. Backpacking is known to increase strength, endurance, and stamina over time with all the impromptu experiences. Although backpacking involves much lengthier trips, regularly hiking and going out in nature can also help decrease the risk of heart disease and better your mood.
But on the other hand, backpacking can be dangerous. Unlike typical hikes or taking a jog around your neighborhood, there are a lot of factors involved in backpacking that could suddenly change and make your relaxing trip turn into a fight for survival.
You’ve probably heard about backpackers getting lost for days and some never being found. You’ve also likely heard about these trips getting rained-in on or people getting hurt and struggling to make it back. Many things can happen, and you should always make sure you’re prepared for the worst.
Preparing for a backpacking trip means both being aware of the environmental conditions surrounding the time and place of your trip, but also getting physically and mentally prepared. Being outdoors for a couple of days is a challenging feat, especially if the conditions aren’t perfect and they usually aren’t.
But the danger of backpacking hasn’t stopped many people, and it shouldn’t. As long as you’re prepared, you can have a fun, safe, and exciting trip.
If you’re new to backpacking, planning can be overwhelming. How do you know you’re preparing for everything? How do you make sure you won’t find yourself in a dangerous or uncomfortable situation?
Here are eight ways to make preparations for your next backpacking adventure:
1. Plan-out your trek
Make sure you know where you’re going. This might sound simple, but there’s a lot to know about where you’re backpacking adventure is taking place.
When planning a trip, you should keep in mind how difficult the trail is and whether or not it’s well-traveled.
If it’s your first time, an easier path might be good to try out. However, if you’re looking for something more challenging, it will still be useful to at least see if others have taken the same trip, and whether or not they encountered anything unusual.
It’s also a good idea to make sure there are resources around, like water, near-by camping grounds, and regular hiking trails. Water is important so that you can fill up and stay hydrated. Camping grounds and hiking trails mean that there will likely be other people near-by in case you need help.
2. Check the weather
One of the number one preparation tips, when you’re going anywhere is to check the weather. Especially crucial for outdoors trips, the weather can make or break the success of any backpacking adventure.
You want to make sure you look out for everything like rain, snow, and thunderstorms. You should also be wary of the temperature and how it fluctuates throughout the day, especially if you’re staying overnight.
3. Dress appropriately
If it’s cold, wear a jacket and warm pants. If it’s not, make sure you bring some layers that can be taken off if it gets too hot. As mentioned in the previous point, it’s vital that you take into account the weather.
In a couple of extreme cases, people have found themselves in temperatures that they weren’t prepared for, turning a nice backpacking trip, into a chance encounter with frostbite. So, you should make sure you stay warm and maybe bring a couple of heating pads if it’s cold where you’re going.
You should also wear sturdy shoes and a couple of extra clothes, just in case. And make sure you bring something waterproof because if it starts to rain cotton items will soak it all up, making the trip all the more difficult.
4. Bring snacks
Keep yourself well-fed and energized. Many people like to bring protein bars or granola with them on a trip, in case they start feeling hungry along the way.
Studies have shown that about 5000 calories can be expended during a single day of hiking. This is much higher than people’s usual intake. This is important because it means that if you don’t bring enough food, you’ll end up hungry and out of energy fast.
Some trails can also be a lot more intense than expected, and so a quick bite can give you the extra push you need to make it through.
5. Drink lots of water
Stay hydrated, always.
For trips like these, it’s smart to bring along a reusable bottle. Nowadays, reusable bottles are insulated and sturdy, perfect for long trips like backpacking.
Kool8’s water bottle is fully insulated so that you can keep your water cold on summer trips or keep it hot and toasty for when the weather starts to cool down. They’re also durable, so they’ll withstand accidentally being dropped or thrown around.
6. Keep it Light
Pack well, but pack light. When it comes to backpacking, even short trips can be tiring if you’re carrying pounds and pounds of gear.
One way to prevent this is to be smart about how you pack and what you pack. Look for things that have dual-use.
And make sure you’re not overpacking. Although you should make sure you have the essentials, be wary of what’s not actually important. For example, don’t bring any valuables, and try not to bring bulky or heavy items, unless absolutely necessary.
7. Invest in a pedometer
Bringing a pedometer can help you keep track of your steps, allowing you to set goals and really quantify just how much movement and activity you were able to get out of your trip.
While this may seem a bit trivial, knowing how for you went, and how many steps you took can bring another sense of excitement to the backpacking trip, so that next time, you can work on beating a personal record.
If you don’t know what kind of pedometer to get, Cool Things Chicago provides a list of some of the best.
8. Hike more
One of the best ways to prepare is by getting experience. To prepare for a big backpacking trip, you should spend a couple of weekends before going on some light hikes. This will help you familiarize yourself with outdoor sports and also what is essential to you on these trips.
Hiking will also get you in shape for the long trek and make sure you can make it through the trip.
So, if you’re interested in getting involved in hiking, check out this great article on hiking basics.
Hopefully, these tips will help you make sure your backpacking trip goes smoothly. Although backpacking is exciting and adventurous, there are many things you should do to stay safe.
In general, remember to think ahead and pack the essentials, but ultimately, you should be enthusiastic and go into the trip with a positive mindset. These eight basic tips should give you a solid foundation to make the most out of your next backpacking adventure.
Author bio: This article comes from Andrew Peterson at VegasForAll