by Brad

September 13, 2021

How to Train for Backpacking

As gratifying as the backpacking activity often is, it is also a physically demanding endeavor. Even where you carry a lightweight pack to lessen your load, the trails won’t hike themselves.

Ideally, backpacking is much more than a simple walk; it is an endurance activity and you need to prepare by doing some extra workouts. Luckily, how to train for backpacking is the topic we will discuss i

As such, it is essential to spare some time to prep your body before you head out, and you’ll likely end each adventure happily exhausted rather than dejectedly exhausted and sore. So, how do you train for backpacking? 

Ideally, with backpacking, the more you exercise, the more satisfying your experience will feel. If you want to understand how to train for backing, this post has everything you need. Essentially, this guide is for new backpack travelers or backcountry and mountaineering to help you become a better packer. 

Training for Backpacking

We highlight the basic backpacker techniques, the benefits of backpacking training, and the best training protocols. It is easy and fun to understand, well written, simple to use, very well designed, and packed with tips for making the most of your backpack. 

Let’s get started. 

The Advantages of Training for Backpacking

Promote an enjoyable and adventurous experience 

Engaging in backpack training sessions will help you enjoy your backpacking and hiking experience more. Rather than the occasional feelings of exhaustion while hiking, being fit will help you focus on enjoying the adventure, nature, and of course, have fun. 

If you don’t necessarily exert yourself, you’ll have much more energy in your tank to take photos, explore trails, and do whatever excites you. 

Help avoid injuries and blisters

With some pre-trip training, you can avoid potential injuries and blisters. How? 

Exercise helps develop flexibility and strength in your ankles, feet, and knees-vital for backpacking; ideally, resistance training will help mitigate any risks of tears or strains. 

Boost your motivation for fitness & health

Working out for Backpacking

A pre-planned adventure often makes an excellent goal for inspiring you to enhance your fitness. 

Each time you reminisce about stunning scenery and landscapes you will explore; you ignite your motivation to squat or walk. Better yet, you may inspire your colleagues and family to join in your training! 

How to Train for Backpacking

While we understand that it might be somewhat challenging to find some time off your busy schedule to train, logging miles is the most critical aspect of backpacking training! 

Training for backpacking involves several activities designed to promote your fitness and strengthen your muscles. These activities include: 

  • Training to strengthen major muscles that help in the heavy lifts. Stronger core and leg muscles can help support heavy loads and boost your ability to push up the trails. 
  • Since backpacking is a thoroughly engaging activity, endurance training for these muscle groups and the lower back and shoulders is essential. 
  • Boost balance to help you get a more stable base for easy trekking on uneven terrains
  • Finally, don’t forget to do some cardio! Essentially, you can complement your strength-training routine with various activities like biking, trail running, and aerobic exercises to enhance your performance. 

Note: before you start any training plan, you should consult with your physician first.

Backpacking Training Schedule 

Start your training sessions eight weeks before starting your backpacking experience. However, ease up and reduce your training vigor a few days before starting your hike. 

Set aside 20-30 minutes a few days a week (2-3 days) for the optimal physical benefit for these exercises. 

Top 3 Training Exercises for Backpacking

Mountain Climbers for Backpacking Workout

You must perform the following training exercises 2 or 3 times every week on those days you aren’t doing cardio or walking. 

Ensure that you warm-up and stretch for several minutes before starting these strength training exercises. Here are three training exercises for backpacking: 

Mountain Climbers

Ideally, mountain climbers are a fantastic exercise to inspire a cardio burst to prepare your heart and lungs for backpacking. Moreover, mountain climbers strengthen your core that offers stability on rough terrain and supports your load. 

1) Start your session in a high plank position ensuring your hands are directly under the shoulders on the floor while your legs are extended behind. 

2) Ensure your body remains in a straight line while you float the right knee up to meet your outer (right) elbow or chest (or try both). 

3) Stay in this position (at least for a few seconds) and return your foot to a plank position

4) Repeat this process with the left knee using your core to keep everything tight. Once you master this, do fast repetitions with control, ensuring you alternate sides. 

Reps: 1-3 sets of 15+


Lunges for Backpacking Workout

Lunges usually work on your quads, essentially strengthening the most significant leg muscle. Typically, after lunges, you’ll be set to charge upon those rugged uphill trail sections. 

1) To start, stand with your legs together. Take your right foot frontwards and then lunge frontwards. Afterward, bring your right foot back to meet the left foot again. 

2) Step the right foot rightwards and lunge to your side. Bring the right foot back so that it meets the left. 

3) Step the right foot behind you and thrust back. Bring the right leg frontwards to meet the left. Repeat this on the left side; this is one rep. 

Bonus Points: you can hold a water bottle or weight in every hand to up your sessions. 

Reps: one to three sets of 10+


Squats for Backpacking Workout

If your schedule and drive allow for another exercise, why not do some squats! These exercises are remarkable at strengthening your legs and glutes that are challenged continually during backpacking. 

1) Start by standing while your feet are in a shoulder-width apart position.

2) Maintain your knees in line with the ankles, bend at the knees, and then sit back (like sitting in a relatively low chair just behind you). 

3) Keep the chest upright and open. Afterward, drive your body weight into the heels, rise, and squeeze the glutes as you stand up. 

Bonus Points: hold some weights in your hands as you do the squats to increase the resistance. 

Reps: One to three sets of 15+ 


Once you adopt the habit of moving, walking, and traversing outdoors, don’t be surprised if you don’t want to stop. If you are a beginner, read our guide on how to start with backpacking.

Ideally, regular training for backpacking becomes a part of your routine: besides just keeping you ready for backpacking, it also helps reduce stress. 

You will have something worth looking forward to, and while at it, stay fit, so you are not scrambling next time an adventure opportunity springs up. With these few tips, you can be optimistic about achieving your backpacking and fitness goals. 

Good Luck!

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About the author 


Brad is a professional climber in the discipline of traditional climbing. He often jokes that he can get a book to read during the long climbs. Of course, it always goes well with a good cup of coffee. Drinking coffee is his safer hobby.

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