Backpacking Mistakes to Avoid

You get better at hiking through experience. The more miles you rack up, the faster you learn the dos and don’ts of hiking and backpacking. You learn from mistakes you’ve made and think of things that will improve your trip on the next go round. Of course, it would be great if you could skip the mistakes and just gain the knowledge. Here are some beginner backpacking mistakes to avoid.

Heading out without a map

This is one of the biggest backpacking mistakes you can make. The only time you shouldn’t pack a map is if your hiking buddy has one. Even then, it’s still a good idea to carry – and use – a map.

Wearing brand new boots

If you’re a glutton for punishment, here’s a fun thing to do. Leave a brand new pair of hiking boots in the box until you start your 5-day hike. Blister town.

Braving blisters

No one is going to be impressed if you decide to tough out those on-setting blisters. In fact, everyone will probably be angry because you have to stop every 10 minutes to give your feet a rest. Once hot spots form, treat them immediately.

Zoning out

It’s easy to set yourself to auto pilot for long stretches of trail, Unfortunately, this is how you get lost. Be alert and constantly aware of your surroundings.

The food bar diet

Yes, bars are great backpacking foods. They’re compact, convenient, nutritious, and you don’t have to cook them. It only takes 2 days of eating nothing but bars for you to start losing your mind. Pack food with variety of tastes and textures to stay sane.

Going ultralight

A surprise pick for our list of backpacking mistakes. Ultralight backpacking isn’t a mistake in and of itself. Just don’t go ultralight unless you have the skills to back it up.

You can save a lot of weight by leaving your backpacking stove at home, and carrying matches or a ferrocerium rod instead.

That being said, your fire starting skills need to be tried and true or you risk a very cold and hungry backpacking trip.

Forgetting gear

Get in the habit of making a checklist for backpacking. Lay your gear out and make certain that you pack everything on the list.

Packing too much

The more you pack, the harder your hike is going to be. Make sure that you actually need everything that you pack.

Not packing a first aid kit

If you’ve never in your entire life suffered a scrape or bruise, you’re exempt from packing a first aid kit.

Getting caught in the dark

Know what time the sun sets, and make your plans to set up camp before nightfall. Setting up a tent in the dark is mildly inconvenient, but navigating in the dark is a recipe for disaster.

Banking on blue skies

Rain can not only ruin your hike, it can threaten your life in the backcountry. Make sure you’re prepared for rain, even if it’s not in the forecast.

Not fitting your backpack properly

An ill-fitting pack can cause discomfort and even injuries on the trail.

Prioritizing fashion

No one cares what you look like on the trail. You’re going to be greasy and smelly after a couple of days anyway. Trade your blue jeans for a pair of hiking pants.

 

What are some backpacking mistakes that you’ve learned from? Let us know in the comments below, and come see us at Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters for hiking and backpacking gear in Northwest Arkansas!

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