Going on a Backpacking Trip? Here’s How to Prepare

Backpacking is an exciting way to explore the great outdoors and get familiar with basic survival skills. Whether you are going for a short trip or a long cross country adventure, knowing how to use your tools properly as well as the basics about how you need to manage things on your own given a limited amount of resources is crucial to getting the most out of what you have. The purpose of backpacking is not to make you uncomfortable but rather to give you an experience that you can’t get from any other kind of travel. Backpacking with friends is a great way to spend time with the people you love and also enjoy the natural environment that you will be hiking through. Even if you are a seasoned backpacker, here are a few things you should keep in mind to get the most out of your trips. You can find travel ideas, offers, and favorite pacific northwest places from sites like https://wa.aaa.com/.

1. Research

Before you head out with your bag and buddies, make sure you do your homework on the location that you plan on backpacking through. The kind of terrain, climate, and obstacles you will face can be easily managed if you have the right gear, and without proper preparation, you will face unnecessary problems and expose yourself to dangers that could have easily been avoided. When backpacking, you can use a water filter to filter water wherever you find it for consumption rather than having to carry water with you. This will reduce weight and give you more room to carry other essentials. By understanding the location you can better prepare for the trips and utilize natural resources that you will come across.

2. Shelter

If your backpacking trip is going to be more than a day-long, then you need some sort of temporary accommodation. Carrying personal sleeping bags is usually what people resort to when backpacking but this is not the most efficient solution and these often take up a lot of space in the bag. Whenever you are backpacking, you want to consider what kind of things can be used by the group collectively such as tents, water supplies, and certain gear. Rather than everyone bringing along their own supply of water or portable shelter, you could get one large tent that can accommodate the entire group. This way, one person can carry the tent and everyone else will have much more room to carry the tent-carriers supply as well as their own.

3. Clothing

People often underestimate the importance of having the right clothing. In some areas, the temperature differences can be extreme. It might be very hot in the afternoon and it could get freezing cold after sunset. Moreover, having the right clothing means you won’t have to rely on extra things like raincoats, blankets, and additional clothing to keep you comfortable. This is why it’s important to research the area that you are going into so you can prepare accordingly. It’s always a good idea to carry some extra clothing, it could come in handy for someone else if you don’t need it.

4. Food

Depending on where you are going, you might want to carry prepackaged and ready-to-eat food or you could carry raw food and cook it. However, for your outdoor adventures just be sure to carry food that won’t spoil easily as you won’t have refrigerated conditions while you backpack. Tinned food works great, and things like cold sandwiches are easy to put together and can be used for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Be meticulous in cooking and preparing, the last thing you want is to get food poisoning or be sick due to bad food.

5. Communication

Even though everyone these days has a smartphone or a mobile of some kind, this is not the most reliable form of communication when you are out backpacking. Ideally, you and your group should invest in some kind of radio to keep communication going within the group. You can have your phones on hand as a secondary option but radios are an excellent choice especially if you are going through mountainous terrain where carrier signals are unavailable. Satellite radios don’t need to rely on local signals, they are far more durable than smartphones and their batteries last much longer than a mobile phone.

6. Keep track of what you pack

On your initial few journeys, you will probably overpack. That’s fine, but keep track of everything you bring and what you don’t use so you don’t make the same mistake again. Everyone has a few conveniences they may not want to give up, and these comforts vary from person to person. But, the further we travel, the more things we are ready to sacrifice.

7. Arrange your belongings in a logical manner

Some people organize their clothing into different bags based on its intended use (e.g., sleeping, layering), whilst others simply toss it everything into their sleeping bag. It’s a matter of personal opinion, but it’s probably not a bad idea to place loose items in a bag so you can find them quickly in your pack. For instance, a Ziploc bag for electronics that contains items such as a personal locator beacon, headlamp, and phone charger. In addition, it’s a good idea to pack an additional bag (even if it’s just a plastic bag; it doesn’t have to be fancy) to store wet items so that the rest of your belongings remain dry.

8. Follow the ABCs of backcountry travel

Follow these principles when packing your belongings:

A – Accessibility: Carry hiking essentials, such as snacks, lunch, a first aid kit, and a rain jacket, in hip belt pockets or near the top of your pack.

B – Balance: Strive to distribute your load evenly on the sides, front, and back. Hence, if you’re carrying a liter of water in a side pocket, which weighs 2.2 pounds, you’ll need to balance out the other side pocket with something of a similar weight, otherwise you may feel the pack tugging uncomfortably to one side.

C – Compression: When backpacking, you should not fold your garments properly. Coil your belongings tightly to save as much room as possible, and consider using a compression or stuff sack for items such as clothing (and of course, your sleeping bag).

D – Dry: The majority of backpacks are not waterproof, and you’ll want to keep at least your vital belongings dry. Fleming suggests using garbage compactor bags; simply open one inside your rucksack and pack your belongings as usual.

Everything contained: Do not allow items to hang from your rucksack. This can throw off your balance and cause you to become entangled in branches, in addition to being an easy method to lose items.

Additionally, load the heaviest goods in the middle; this will help maintain the balance of your pack and evenly distribute the weight across your core and back. Place the lighter, fluffier items that you do not need quick access to at the bottom of your pack. Hence, items such as your sleeping bag and additional clothing for camping. On top of the lightweight goods, place medium- to heavy items such as your tent, water bladder, cooking equipment, and food (that you won’t be consuming while hiking). Then, place any remaining light things or items that require rapid access on top.

9. Determine where to go

You have chosen to go backpacking. The following step is to determine where. For first-time backpacking vacations, it is better to visit a semi-familiar location that is closer to home. I would suggest only one or two nights first.

Numerous trails, especially popular ones, require a backpacking permit. Permits are simple to obtain; simply visit the government website of the location you intend to visit and review its as fire codes and garbage disposal policies.

10. Be at ease with the mental and physical difficulty

It’s going to be difficult. And gorgeous. And smelly. And painful. And filled with joy. And satisfying. It will be an emotional maelstrom that is not always enjoyable. However, it will be worthwhile. Relax into the mental and physical struggle, and have faith that this experience will only increase your appreciation for the outdoors and your body.

If you can get an experienced person to accompany you when you go backpacking, that is optimum. If that’s not possible then the next best thing is to consult with someone who has taken the trail and can advise you on how to go about it. Lastly, you have your own research that you can use. A lot of the gear that you use for backpacking can be used for many things and for everyday life as well so don’t be shy to invest in good quality materials. The main objective is to have fun so start off with smaller trips and as you get more comfortable and more experienced, you can take on longer, more complex trails.