Backpacking 101: What You Need To Know

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Backing is one of the ultimate outdoor activities - hiking wilderness trails with nothing but the essentials on your back, what could possibly be better? Here’s everything you need to know!

If you’re looking for an epic backpacking trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail and the Continental Divide Trail are legendary backpacking trails throughout the U.S. The Rim to Rim Trail in the Great Canon and the Enchanted Valley in Olympic National Park are also extremely popular trails drawing hikers from all around the world. 

A successful backpacking trip is all about the preparations and here’s some of the most important things you need to think about while planning your trip.   

How to prepare for your trip

Preparing for your backpacking trip is where the fun begins. You get to choose a trail based on the terrain and type environment you want and become acquainted with the route using maps and test runs for difficult routes. You’ll also need to make sure you have proper navigation equipment and obtain the necessary permits if the trail or park requires it. 

Choosing a trail is one thing, but getting physically and mentally fit enough to do it is another thing entirely. Getting into a regular exercise routine well before the start date of your trip is an essential part of preparing for any backpacking trip.   

Making a packing list 

Before we even get into the packing list, you first need to find a proper-fitting backpack that allows for even weight distribution while still being comfortable and functional. In choosing a backpack, you need to think of the length and climate of your trip, and the activities you’ll want to do. The right backpack should be able to fit everything on your packing list.

Your packing list starts with a backpacking tent, a sleeping pad and a sleeping bag all of which should be weather-proof and durable. You’ll also need some backcountry kitchen equipment, and food and water. It may be a good idea to try pre-made dehydrated backpacking meal packs. Some of them are actually tasty and you wouldn’t need to make meal plans or carry loads of non-perishable foods. Taking enough water is also essential, but try finding out whether the trail has safe sources of drinking water along the way, most do.

Having the right clothing and footwear suitable for the terrain and climate is also something to think about. Go for breathable, moisture-wicking, form-fitted materials. Clothes that are light yet still warm are the best choice. Proper footwear is also important, it's better to have footwear durable and comfortable enough in the worst terrains than to deal with the aches and pains later. 

It's also important to think about taking an emergency first aid kit and some adventure and repair tools to help you overcome obstacles, challenges or emergencies. Try looking for an adventure toolkit or even a multi-tool that contains some essential adventure tools and handy items. That way you won’t be lugging around various different tools. 

Trekking poles are also crucial, Some people think they are unnecessary and for easier trails they definitely are. But if you’re planning on taking on a more strenuous trail, having trekking poles is a gamer-changer. The best ones are adjustable and light-weight because they carry some of the weight and help protect your knees. 

Making a backpacking checklist is the best way to go about packing for any trail no matter how long. Making your list well in advance also gives you time to research different camping and outdoor brands and lets you watch out for sales and good deals to get your equipment at the best possible prices. 

One last tip 

Try as best as possible to avoid any injury to yourself and others along the way. We all know accidents do happen, but for beginner backpackers or anyone taking on new trails, it's better to take it slow at first and avoid unnecessary risk. 

Backpacking is the ultimate adventure activity for all kinds of outdoor and adventure enthusiasts and being well prepared makes the trip worth it because you get to relax and take in the natural wilderness in all its glory. 

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