5 Key Principles for Planning a Backpacking Trip

BackpackerBackpacking is a great way to stay healthy and active while enjoying the outdoors. Ultimately, backpacking is a pretty simple activity, but there are some things that you should know in order to make the most of your trip. Here are the five things that you should keep in mind when planning your next backpacking trip.

Psychically prepare yourself.

Backpacking is a physically demanding activity. The heavier your pack, and the longer your hike, the more challenging it will be. Your level of fitness will directly affect how enjoyable your hike will be. You don’t have to be in marathon shape, but if your idea of working out is lifting doughnuts, you’re going to struggle on your trip.

Make sure that you are in good physical condition, especially if you’re looking at an extended backpacking trip. There are numerous stretches and exercises that you can do to help prepare for your trip, but the best way to get in backpacking shape is by hiking. Get used to walking long distances on the trail, and carry extra weight to get used to the feeling of a weighted pack.

Mentally prepare yourself.

A leisurely 2-mile loop makes for a pleasant afternoon, but it won’t really get your mind right for an week-long backpacking trip. While backpacking can be fun, it’s not always pleasant. Depending on your pace, the ground you’re planning on covering, and the heft of your pack, your trip could be more taxing than enjoyable. A lot of the satisfaction of the trip comes before and after… but you won’t get it without the during.

Make sure that you have a realistic sense of what your trip will be like. A 5-mile a day pace with a pack that weighs 20 pounds under bluebird skies will be pleasant, but a 15-mile a day pace with a 35-pound pack in the rain is going to be rough. If you’re hiking for the challenge embrace it, but know what you’re getting into.

Do your homework.

Things like getting lost, running out of food, or running out of water are sure to put a damper on your outing. You don’t have to plan your trip to a T, but make sure that you have a general sense of where you are going, how to get there, and how long it will take to get there. Carry a topo map – and know how to read it – to keep from getting lost, and look for places along the trail to get water to keep from getting dehydrated. It’s better to bring too much food than not enough in case your trip takes longer than expected.

Also, try to get familiar with the flora, fauna, and terrain for the area that you are going to be in. Know how to identify poisonous plants and venomous snakes, and be aware of the active seasons for wildlife.

Have the right skills and know-how.

You can’t just bring a topo map and expect not to get lost. You can’t just bring a water purifier and expect to have clean, potable water. You can’t just bring a first aid kit and expect to be able to patch yourself up if you get hurt. Knowing how to use your equipment is just as important as having it.

Here are some of the basic skills that every camper/hiker/backpacker should know.

Have the right gear.

You need to be in good shape and have the right mind set to go backpacking, and having the right skills and knowledge is absolutely crucial, but you also need the right gear for backpacking. Lightweight and compact is the order of the day, but comfort is also something that you should consider when choosing your backpacking gear.

These are the items that are absolutely necessary for backpacking:

  • Backpack
  • Footwear
  • Clothing
  • Shelter
  • Bedding
  • Water
  • Food
  • Light source
  • A way to cook food

There are different preferences for each of those items, and there are certainly more things that should find their way into your pack. Let us help you get outfitted. Stop by the store and see us today!

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