First-Time Backpacker? Here’s What You Need to Know

Backpacking is an excellent way to not only stay in shape, but also explore the wilderness. Whether that’s on your own, or with a friend or two, you’re going to have a lot of fun. However, for some it might sound a bit scary heading out in the wild if you don’t know what you’re dealing with.

To make things a bit easier, we’ve got a few tips for you that will probably make the entire experience more relaxed, allowing you to have fun rather than worrying about everything. Let’s not waste any more time and dive into the details.

Get the Right Gear

Having the right gear when you’re backpacking can seriously make or break the entire experience. Things that are too heavy, or too bulky, will result in additional strain when you’re traveling, which is something you want to avoid.

Optimally, you want lightweight gear that is compact enough for you to be able to pack it in a backpack. Brands like Hyke & Byke are the perfect choice as they offer affordable and optimally reliable andlightweigh gear. Such gear takes up minimal space while still offering good performance when it gets dark for beginners as well as for experienced backpackers.

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A thing to remember with the gear is that repurposing gear that you’d use for car camping isn’t a good idea. When you’ve got a car, you can afford to get heavier things because you aren’t carrying them on your shoulders, so keep that in mind.

That being said, the essentials are actually pretty minimal. You’ll need a tent to sleep in, as well as a sleeping bag that’s suitable for the temperatures you’ll be backpacking in. A sleeping pad is also a good idea, because not only does it provide insulation, but it adds a bit of cushioning for a slightly more comfortable sleeping experience. Browse around for durable gear that are also not too expensive; you won’t have to break the bank for the right backpacking gear, although good quality ones can be slightly higher on the price range, but worth it. Alternatively, you can look for used gear that are still in good condition at places like rei anchorage garage sales, or their website. And to add to this, you should have food, drinks, and preparation tools such as a stove and kitchen supplies. Of course, last but not least, get a backpack that allows you to carry everything in a comfortable way, and you should be good to go.

Here’s a tip that might come in handy – get yourself tablets or drops for water purification. The issue with water you’ll find in the wild is that you have no way of knowing whether or not it’s drinkable, so it’s better to err on the side of caution. You don’t want a stomach ache when you’ve got a few miles to go with a backpack on your back.

Pick the Right Destination

Sure, picking a high peak that requires hours’ worth of hiking to get to is probably one of the best ways to truly experience backpacking. However, that’s not something you want to do when you’re just starting out.

Your first backpacking trips should be easy, even if that means you won’t get to experience spectacular views. You’ll be able to get to your destination without everything turning into a miserable experience, and even if it’s too easy, you’ll get a bit of extra time to explore your surroundings.

A good tip would be to pick a place that’s close to your home. It’s always better to spend more time hiking than you spend driving, because you’ll need to have plenty of daylight time to reach the camp before it gets dark.

While we’re at it, you shouldn’t aim to go too far. A round trip of only a couple of miles isn’t bad when you’re starting out. You want to have fun, not exhaust yourself as much as possible. Take it easy when kicking off.

Planning is Crucial

The last thing you want to note before you head out backpacking is that you should plan everything carefully. This includes things like the items you’ll be bringing, how you’ll share the load with everyone else who’s coming, food, drinks, and getting to the trail.

It’s especially crucial to plan your food and drinks well, and to make sure you bring plenty of it. Canned food is a good solution that you can shove into a backpack, and you can find plenty of “just add water” meals. They take up minimal space and are surprisingly easy to prepare. And while we’re at it, make sure you have enough snacks and things like protein bars to use as trail fuel.

You should also keep in mind whether or not you need any kind of permits for the trails you’ll be hiking and the places where you’ll be camping. Not all the places will require them, but if you’re heading to a popular destination, chances are you’ll need one.

Last but not least, for safety reasons, it’s a good idea to prepare an itinerary with details on where you’ll be going, and what time you expect to be back. Leave this with a friend or family member, because this will give them an idea on whether or not they should be calling for help if necessary.


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