We’re in the midst of the dog days of winter, and since it’s drawing to a close we are eagerly planning our next getaway. If you’re the adventurous type but haven’t had the chance to take too many backpacking trips, then this might be your chance to try. It’s the best way to take advantage of exploring nature, without costing a bundle. And, given that the coming spring or summer months will not necessarily see the end of the pandemic, it represents a pretty safe option for you to consider, whether you decide to go on your own or with your bubble. If you are new to backpacking or want to up your game and figure out ways to make the experience even better for you and your loved ones, then the following tips should help you clear the cobwebs.
Find the Easiest Destination
The first tip may seem rather obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. Sometimes people think that backpacking should be a complicated endeavor, one which ideally should take you to the farthest corners of the earth to help you feel like a true adventurer. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, you want to keep your backpacking expeditions fairly simple. The most important thing about backpacking is actually enjoying your time at the new destination, and not wasting too much time and energy getting there. You’ll want to spend more time hiking, perhaps swim in a lake if there is one, and enjoy nature. Driving for hours will only cut into the number of daylight hours you have, which isn’t advisable since you can’t – and shouldn’t – hike when it’s dark. Planning a shorter round trip is better, and it will also prevent you from packing too much, which will be harder for you to carry as you hike.
Make Sure the Destination is Safe
You should check in with more experienced backpackers in your area to make sure that there are places close by that are safe and have easy access to water. You could also check online to see if there are message boards to help point you in the direction of well-traveled trails or established camps so that there are campers nearby with whom you can consult in case of emergency. It’s also imperative that your camp has a source of water such as a lake or river nearby, especially if you plan to go camping for a night or two.
If you decide to spend the night, then make sure to bring along a light sleeping bag with you, and a few other accessories. However, as the camping experts at premieroutdoorgear.com/backpacking-camping-chairs will mention, invest in accessories such as portable chairs that are easy to fit into the car and carry around a short distance. But again, the destination should not be some cut-off place, and ideally, you would be in close proximity to a community of people you can reach out to in case you encounter any kind of difficulty.
How to Dress for Backpacking
Even if you decide to camp for a day or two, there is no reason to invest in a ton of expensive specialty clothes. Especially if this is still your first backpacking trip; you should try out a few things first then figure out what you need and adjust accordingly for future trips. To start with, go through any fitness wear you already have, and find things that are comfortable yet somewhat form-fitting. Even better if they are made of quick-drying or “moisture wicking” fabrics such as nylon, which will help keep you dry as you sweat. Try to avoid cotton since it takes a long time to dry. If you hike in the winter, then definitely don’t wear cotton, because it will suck up a bunch of water, and since it doesn’t dry easily can cause you to feel chilly, or worse, lead to hypothermia.
If you don’t find anything at all in your current wardrobe that feels suitable, then you can go ahead and purchase thermals or long underwear to keep you warm, especially in the evening if you decide to spend the night. Also, a good rule of thumb to remember is that you should pack and wear layers that are easy to peel off or add more, depending on the weather. T-shirts are always helpful regardless of the weather, as is a sun hat to protect you from any UV damage. Also, consider getting some gloves, or even fingerless gloves if the weather isn’t too cold, and a lightweight fleece jacket. If you think it will rain then definitely bring along a weatherproof jacket or parka that will keep you dry and warm. And don’t forget a good pair of hiking boots so that you don’t slip and fall while making your trek along the path.
This one is incredibly important. Even if you plan to go backpacking for a day trip and have no intention of camping, you should still pack your provisions appropriately. Bring a few granola bars and a bag of trail mix, as well as a big thermos of water – plus another jug if the weather is warm. A sandwich should also be good if you plan to only hike for the afternoon.
However, if you go camping for the entire weekend, you should plan your food and water wisely. Bring along those high calorie and protein-heavy bars, but also double up on your water supply. Dried fruit and snacks like jerky are also good to have on hand. For dinner, bring with you cans or ready-made boxed meals that are easy to heat over a simple campfire. Also, easy-to-make oatmeal breakfasts are the perfect breakfast to take along with you when camping and are especially light to carry.
These are all basic tips, but definitely take the time to research your options, and find your local community of backpackers to glean their advice. Also, it helps for you to prepare a checklist of provisions, clothes, and essential items to pack depending on the trail and how long you plan to explore the outdoors. The main secret to being an excellent backpacker is basically taking the time to organize yourself and prepare as best you can.