May 10, 2022

What Is the Relation between Rappelling and Backpacking?

by Jullie

Rappelling might be scary for individuals who have never done it before or just learning about it.

Rappelling and backpacking are closely related, but the two activities have a wide range of definitions, which can be confusing.

There are numerous parallels between rappelling and hiking, so keep reading to learn more.

Table of Contents

What Is Rappelling?

Abseiling or rappelling is the phrase for descending a mountain using a rope attached to an anchor at the top of the hill.

Instead of ascending back down a mountain, climbers employ this strategy to get to the bottom most quickly and efficiently. 

Climbing down is significantly more complicated since you can’t see the holds underneath you, and you’re likely to be exhausted from the ascent. 

As a rule, rappelling is used to descend after a climb, but these days rappelling is becoming a sport in its own right.

Spelunking and slot-canyon rappelling can also be accomplished using a rappel, and the military uses it to access difficult-to-reach areas. 

Many believe that Jean Charlet-Straton, a French Alps mountaineer, invented it in 1876 after he became stranded descending Le Petit Dru in the Alps. 

However, according to the Alpinist, Edward Whymper, who is most renowned for the first climb of the Matterhorn, was already utilizing the technique at the time. 

It doesn’t matter who came up with the concept first; it was excellent. Charlet-Straton worked on the approach for several more years before it was widely accepted as the most acceptable way to descend.

Related Article: What is the Relation between Rappelling and Camping?

What Is Backpacking? 

In backpacking, you can carry everything you’ll need for your backpacking trip on your back in a backpack.

Everything required for a weekend away at the campsite should be added to that list, such as food, water, clothing, and toiletries. 

There must be at least one overnight in the schedule, but this can extend to days or even weeks of backpacking.

Backpacking trips tend to be more off-the-beaten-path than those that follow local trails. Knowing the route and where you’ll be camping in advance will make the journey more pleasurable.

Related Article: How to Choose a Backpacking Pack?

How to Rappel with a Backpack Attached to Your Body? 

It is possible to use a tandem rappel or wear a backpack regularly when rappelling with a backpack. The weight of the bag will determine which option you select. 

It is possible to complete a conventional rappel with a backpack on most occasions. Consider the size of the backpack before deciding to wear it as you usually do. 

If you’re carrying too much stuff, it might cause you to lose your balance and put your safety at risk. You can use a tandem line in these situations to ensure that the bag does not impact your center of gravity.

Related Article: What is the Difference Between Hiking and Backpacking?

What’s the Problem with Backpacking?

Rappelling while wearing a backpack poses a significant risk because of the extra weight you’ll be carrying. It would be best first to comprehend what’s happening in physics when abseiling to understand why. 

Rappelling often involves using a harness worn around the waist and legs to keep the user linked to the ropes.

In many ways, these harnesses are excellent: they’re inexpensive, portable, and lightweight, and they let you “sit” while rappelling.

Their connection point to the rope is at their waist, which makes it difficult for them to rappel when carrying a load. Because most people’s upper bodies are naturally heavier than their legs, rappelling puts them at a disadvantage. 

The form of your harness and proper rappelling technique generally work together to counteract this impact and keep you upright during your rappels. 

You may maintain a neutral stance for the whole length of the abseil by engaging your core and using the “sit-down” technique we mentioned previously. 

Keeping this position increases if you have a lot of weight on your back. You might end up with your legs pointed upwards and your head dangling facing the ground if you fall.

Related Article: How to Make Coffee while Backpacking?

Rappelling with a Backpack Has Its Drawbacks

The most dangerous aspect of rappelling with a backpack is its effect on weight as you descend. First and foremost, you must grasp the mechanics of rappelling.

Most rappelling individuals use a harness worn around their waist and legs to keep them tethered to the ropes.

In addition to their cost, mobility, and the ability to comfortably sit on the string with these harnesses, there are several other advantages to using them.

It isn’t easy to rappel when carrying a heavy load since the rope attachment point is placed towards your waist. When rappelling, most people’s upper bodies are already heavier than their lower ones, making them top-heavy.

When rappelling, it is essential to use proper technique and a suitable harness to counteract this effect and keep you upright and neutral throughout the entire process.

In addition, if your back gets too heavy, you’ll have trouble holding this posture. If you fall over, your head may hit the ground, and you’ll be dangling from your feet.

Related Article: How to Wash Dishes while Backpacking

Can You Do Rappelling and Backpacking Together?

Here is a step-by-step explanation of how to conduct a rappel using your backpack:

  • After preparing your rappelling gadget, tying a knot, and conducting safety checks, you can proceed with the rappel.
  • Remove your backpack, then set it at your feet if you are still on level ground.
  • Your harness or rappel equipment should have a sling attached to it.
  • Attach the backpack’s opposite end to the sling. The best way to connect the loop depends on the bag, but the top loop is typically the best option (provided it is sturdy enough to support the bag’s weight).
  • Keep the brake on the rope while picking up the sack with your other hand.
  • While on the rope, move in the direction of your descent.
  • The backpack should rest between your legs when you’re in the air.
  • Make sure your luggage doesn’t touch the ground too hard as you drop the rappel.
  • Make sure you clean the rappel by untying your bag.

Related Article: 7 Ways to Set up a Top Rope Anchor

Final Thoughts on Rappelling and Backpacking

It should be evident that rappelling and backpacking are two distinct sports. They do, however, have some notable characteristics. 

Hopefully, we’ve clarified things for you and can help you prevent any more misunderstandings. If you are interested in deep learning, try searching through our rappelling archives and backpacking archives.

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Last Updated on September 28, 2022 by Roger

About the author


Jullie is a professional indoor climber. She loves speed climbing competitions. This style makes her feel like she's flying. Maybe because her other passion is flying airplanes. Obviously, high speeds are her thing.

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