September 13, 2021

How to Get into Backpacking

by Roger

What do you say to friends who don’t know how to get into backpacking? Definitely, getting started for a backpacking trip is never planned overnight. You need to prepare for the task. It’s recommendable to opt for trips and trails that align with your latest fitness levels. 

Like hiking, backpacking is a good approach to starting an exercise routine to help you get in shape. However, attempting to tackle a challenging trail that isn’t great for you will not be enjoyable and could discourage you from doing it again. 

The rewarding experience will call for proper gear, clothing, skills, and extensive planning when you are out camping. And to prepare for the first overnighters, here is a comprehensive guide to help in backpacking to make the transition very smooth and easy. 

Table of Contents
How to Start Backpacking-2

Exercise and Stretches

As earlier mentioned, you need to prepare to go out backpacking. So, you should add a few gentle exercises and stretches to your daily routine. It’s a great way to build the required strength to successfully beat the trail without being self-conscious or feeling out of shape. 

Also, often listen to how your body is reacting. Suppose there are any pain signals; note that it’s a major way to know when to push harder or call it a day for more challenging and bigger backpacking trips. 

It could be local hikes, jogging or walking in your neighborhood, at-home workouts, or yoga classes – any activity that keeps you on the move is a good place to start. Read more on how to train for backpacking.

Safety First

Backpacking is an adventurous activity; however, it comes with many risks, and it’s up to you to mitigate them with several basic precautions. 

For instance, if you do not have a cell phone, you should ensure that you have an emergency contact that knows the intended itinerary when you will return, the vehicle you are driving, and the person you’re with. It’s up to you to get in touch in case you get lost.

Getting a map or decent compass during backpacking and understanding how to use it is another factor to consider. If you don’t have one, major brands offer them to beginners at an affordable cost. 

Also, consider sparing a few bucks to purchase a personal locator beacon that lets you send the exact location and an emergency distress call, especially in areas without cell reception. In this article, we share more tips on how to prepare for a backpacking trip.

There are so many safety measures that you should take while backpacking. A United States Forest Service guide is helpful and tells you what to do if you get lost or in distress. It has chock-full amazing tips vital to ensure you will keep it together when things go south.

Getting into Backpacking-2

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Plan Your Trip

It would be best if you had a guidebook to research places to go. Take time to make a few calls to rangers who will advise you on close places so you can reschedule if bad weather threatens. 

The places you settle for should have established campsites, plenty of water, and ensure to stick to properly marked routes with easy terrain. 

While backpacking, you should not do more than 7 miles in a day. You need to know if the areas you intend to visit will require a permit, the weather to expect, and a post-trip beer.

Lastly, ensure that there is an individual back at home who knows your whereabouts and plans. So, remember to stick to the route for one to find you when necessary. 

Develop Backpacking Skills

While backpacking, you should not be caught pants down and without any shovel. It would be best to understand how to dig a cathole and other needed skills like lighting the stove and pitching the tent. 

Know how to read the map directions, give the gear a test run before going out for the activity, and avoid any bathroom anxiety. Keep in mind that pooping outdoors is very natural; it’s just like walking.

Another skill you should develop is learning great manners. It would be best if you thought about camping as a guest in someone’s house to avoid messing things up. 

Always camp on the bare ground and avoid cleaning the dishes inside the creek; more so, leave the animals and plants alone. In short, learn how to wash dishes while backpacking and leave no trace.

How to Get into Backpacking Step by Step Guide-2

Check Permits Needed and Get One

After selecting the place and time to go backpacking, you should check if any permit is needed. Most backpackers will overlook this easy and simple step, either experienced or starters. Some trails need wilderness permits which have to be reserved a month earlier in advance. 

In other areas, the permits are given based on first-come, first-serve but for known trails and dates like weekends. In such a case, you should be there before the station opens and have a plan B if you fail to get the permit. 

Also, depending on the location you choose, there are additional requirements that the permit might have. For instance, you should carry your meals and scented things in a bear-proof bag.

Carry the Essentials

After knowing the places and how you will hike, you can now determine the gear to carry. Note that different trip lengths and climates call for different gears. Backpacks are manufactured in different sizes; therefore, ensure not to overpack your gears. It’s a huge mistake that people make. 

We have previously covered the pros and cons of 35 ltr to 45 ltr climbing backpacks and how to choose a backpacking pack.

A tent is essential for backpacking. Some outfitters rent out packs, shelter, and other necessary gear. It helps cut the initial cost as you experiment before purchasing. 

While at it, you need to pamper your feet to avoid foot woes such as blisters by getting slightly larger lightweight boots than your common shoes and match them with the wool hiking socks.

Here is How to Get into Backpacking-2

Another essential is to pare the threads. Only pack clothes for backpacking that you will wear for 24 hours, in camp and on the trail. You should wear the same for the entire weekend; throw in some extra socks to ensure your feet are happy. 

While at it, you should pack a lightweight canister stove and two standard fuel canisters in case the weekend is long. It’s a great way to cook like a pro.

After a long and tiresome day of backpacking, you need to sleep like a baby. A thick sleeping pad between 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches thick, with dimensions that ensure the legs are not dangling off the sides, will work perfectly for your resting needs. 

Remember that a little luxe is necessary to make the day lively. Don’t make it look like a monastery, sneak in some laxity in the pack, such as playing cards, a bottle of wine, a camera, and a great book.

Over a few decades, backpackers have been using a list of essential items necessary for comfort and preparedness in the wild while camping. The popular “ten essentials,” as commonly referred to, are the best place to begin for beginners. Once you pack the gear, make sure you understand how to use them. 

Tackle a Few Miles

For beginners, the first backpacking trip should not be about a mileage record. It’s recommendable to keep it at a maximum of 9 miles each day. You can even take that number even lower.

While tackling little miles, you should note the number of hours it takes for you to complete a whole day of backpacking. 

Also, having a bigger pack will slow you down; thus, you’ll have to take breaks in between and move a little bit slower. With that, you could begin to grasp how long it takes to walk with a heavy pack. 

What Is the Best Water Purification System for Backpacking

Prepare Your Backpacking Food

Selecting the food that you’ll need for a backpacking trip is a bit delicate. It would be best to balance replenishing big numbers of calories, using very little space, and pack food that can survive for days without refrigeration. And, yes, it would be best if you enjoy the things you bring on board too. 

Understanding the meal to bring while on a trip can be a huge deterrent as a new backpacker. It should be lightweight and manageable, despite the intention to eat well. 

Walking for long hours carrying a heavy load on the back can be tiresome. So, ensure to pack the right meals since there are so many calories you get to burn during the trip. 

A well-balanced meal will have your energy levels up and assist you to be alert and more focused. Also, stay hydrated, fill up the hydration reservoirs, water bottles, take with you a water bottle insulator, and bring a water filter to fill up while backpacking

Final Verdict

Getting started with backpacking trips will require a strategic plan not to encounter hardships while at it. Remember that backpacking is adventurous; it blends backcountry camping and hiking, so you need to prepare well for the activity.

It’s an activity that allows one to broaden their horizons beyond a vehicle campground to have fun in a more immersive, richer outdoor experience. 

And the key distinction from daytime hiking is your pack size -you and your backpack must have all of life’s essentials on the back. Carefully choose those essentials with care if you want to have a memorable time.

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About the author 


Roger was born into a family of climbers. As the youngest of his siblings, he was also the most ardent climber of them. Small and agile, he practiced climbing all day. Today, Roger teaches children how to climb the large rock walls safely.

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