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If you've wanted to get started backpacking, you HAVE to check out these tips! You'll be enjoying the trails and the great outdoors in no time!
I've gone hiking at least a few times a year for quite some time now. I'd never call myself an expert, or anything beyond beginner though. It was always around campgrounds, not too far away from civilization and it was always only for a half day or so. Regardless, I loved it. I loved being in the center of nature, seeing the wildlife and feeling the good ache from a day spent on my feet.
This year though, something changed. Something within me. I realized I needed more. I wanted more from those outdoor adventures. I wanted something a bit more unpredictable and a little closer to the road less traveled.
It took me seeing Wild to really figure it out and put the pieces together, but I realized I wanted to be more than a semi-regular, campsite hiker. I wanted to move beyond day hiking. I wanted to sleep under the stars, hike trails that were far from campsites, and learn to temporarily live off of only the things I could carry on my back. It sounded freeing, exciting and like real, get your hands dirty kind of work. Which is exactly what I was needing.
Related Reading: Common Types of Hiking
So we're starting on our journey to become true backpackers. Getting the right gear, hiking less populated trails, and hopefully building up to an overnight trip or two. I could not be more excited about this journey which is why I plan to share the story here. Even with the little knowledge I have, I want to prove that if this is something you're interested in – you can do it, too!
How to Get Started Backpacking
Start small and get in shape
The first thing we're doing is heading to smaller trails around us for some day trips. Obviously we want to be sure we know what we're doing before we jump into backpacking for a few days/overnight, but even more so – we want to prepare our body for the physical requirements.
By loading up our packs (adding more over time), we'll get used to the added weight so it won't be such a shock to our system when we head out with enough gear to stay on the trail for a night or two. Plus, we'll be breaking in our gear to reduce the number of blisters and aches.
Related Reading: How to Get Started with Stand-Up Paddleboarding
As much as I'd love to just head out and enjoy a night or two out in the wilderness after a day of hiking, I know that starting small will make our future trips much more enjoyable.
Get the right gear (or check your current gear)
We have a lot of stuff for camping that I absolutely love. Some of which will definitely be used for our hikes. But a lot of it? No way. Our sleeping bags are not easily compressed which means they'll be a hassle to carry. (Consider lightweight sleeping bags or a sleep pad instead.)
And our tent? It has enough room for six people. There's no way I'd want to haul that around on my back when it'll just be Nathan and me with Lily and Sookie. Look for a lightweight tent that is exactly the size you need for yourself, your companions and your gear.
Related Reading: What to Pack: Day Hiking Printable Checklist
Look for gear that is meant for backpacking, especially in a backpack. This tends to mean that it's smaller, easier to compress, and weighs less since you'll be hauling it on your back instead of in your car. Whenever possible, opt for gear that has multiple uses, too. Some great multi-purpose items include:
- Duct Tape: Use for first aid and gear repair
- Bandanas or Buff Bands: Use as a towel, filter, dust mask, and first aid
- Phone: Use for making calls, a camera, and GPS
- Garbage Bags: Use as a poncho, covering your gear, and collecting your garbage so you leave with what you came
- Paracord/Rope: Use for setting up a tent, hanging food, first aid, and gear repair. (Or you can make this paracord water bottle holder)
Along with that, be sure to check your gear ahead of time to make sure everything is working and does not need repair.
Plan as much as you can ahead of time
Read about hiking, especially first aid. Call the ranger of wherever you're going to verify that there isn't anything you need to worry about on the trails you plan to hike. This could include closures, animal activity, or permit requirements. Check out guidebooks and maps for the trails that you'll be visiting as well to ensure that you're familiar with the area before you go. Be sure to check out the water sources along the way.
Related Reading: How to Prepare for Your Next Outdoor Adventure
Also, don't plan a hike for an area that's well beyond your level of experience or capability. Opt for a less strenuous trail until you can increase your experience.
There is plenty more that goes into backpacking, but these are great ways to get started. I'm excited to share our future hikes along with tips on clothing, gear, food and more over the upcoming months!
Do you have any tried + true tips to help others get started backpacking? Please share below!
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