A travel enthusiast finds true solace in backpacking. It takes the traveling experience beyond the supremacy of wanderlust and extends delight of raw and rough rendezvous with Mother Nature. The natural world is far impressive than we think and backpacking allows us to unveil this rewarding experience. It is physically challenging as well as redemptive to carry all life’s essential on your back while exploring the best of Nature.
If your guts call you to try the novel outdoors experience of Backpacking, here are a few steps to follow
Table of Content
- Search for an experienced partner:
- Pick an easy route to start:
- Gear up- picking the best backpacking gears
- A few more considerations:
1- Search for an experienced partner
2- Pick an easy route to start
3- Gear up
Search for an experienced partner:
It is great to find help in your circle. If you are lucky and have a few friends that have the same passion like yours and love backpacking, ask them to allow you to join them for a day or two expedition. There are high chances that they will be happy to guide you through. With their expertise, you can learn about backpacking rules, essential gears, and best use of different gears. If the experts allow, you can share their gear as well and have practical learning.
If you do not find any backpacker, join a formal backpacking class. You can also ask a friend of yours to accompany you. When you learn in a group, you learn better with higher fun and smart learning quotient.
Pick an easy route to start:
This is a bit tricky part of the exercise. The route you pick for backpacking depends on several factors:
1- Time you have for the exercise: If you only have a weekend, it is good enough time for first time backpacking
2- How to fit you are- You need to be in shape for backpacking, analyze your current shape and how long will you take to train yourself.
3- Distance- Fix the distance of hiking you can cover in one day before starting the trip. Keep in mind that you will be carrying a heavy backpack on your back. For novice backpackers, a round-trip of three to eight miles is more than enough. It is also convenient if the route is highly elevated or you have kids along with you.
4- Elevation Gain- It is important to find out the extent of elevation gain you can handle. For experienced hikers, they already have a fair idea about their ability to tackle with elevation. However, if you are a beginner, it is better to choose a relatively flat surface. Always remember that you will have weight on your shoulders.
5- Time and weather- keep track of the time and weather in the region. Time is a broader term that covers ‘time of the day’ as well as ‘time of the year’.
6- Logistics- you can pick between point to point hiking or take a loop-trail. In case of point to point route, you will have to shuttle your cars between the start and finish points. Keep in mind the traveling time from one point to another and keep enough time in hand to prepare the camp before the night falls.
Gear up- picking the best backpacking gears
Top ten essential backpacking gears:
Backpacking is a group exercise and it is a must to have proper co-ordination in terms of who will bring what. Being well-equipped is a must for best backpacking experiences so be prepared and double check before you leave. It is disappointing and frustrating to find that something important is missing once you have installed the camp. Here is the list of Top ten essentials:
Group backpacking gear:
One of the prime advantages of backpacking with a group or with an experienced partner is that you can enjoy using various communal gear. The list is long and includes a tent for two-three or may be more persons, kitchen supplies, big stoves and water campers. When you go to large groups, it is advisable to carry a number of stoves and tents.
Limiting the weight you carry is also important and your experienced friend can tell you what not to bring to keep the weight in check. Below we have discussed some more group backpacking gear you will need:
Backpacking tents are compact and lightweight for easy carrying needs. If you are a group of three people, carrying a three-person tent is easier than carrying three one-person tents. Also, it is lighter than three separate tents. So, if you are in a group, setting up a camp with more heads is a wiser option.
Carrying a compact stove that has a fast heating system like integrated canister is a better stove for group dining. It boils water fast and you can make food quickly by adding hot water to the freeze-dried meals. It takes only 10 minutes for the meal to take shape and you are all set for group dining. If you are in a large group, bring more than one stove to ensure all of you eat together.
You cannot carry all the water for your days in the camp. It isn’t feasible and will add a lot of weight to your backpacks. Treating and filtering the water available in natural resources like streams and rivers can be a wise option. A quality water filter will help you with your water needs so do not forget to carry one. Also, remember to carry a few water bottles to keep the filtered water.
It is great if you have an integrated stove as it has a built-in pot. If not, you will need boiling pot or a kettle to boil water. For having food, each backpacker will need a mug, spoon, bowl or a Spork. Preparing a kitchen kit is advised by expert backpackers. This kit should contain a long stirring spatula, flat spatula, salt, pepper, paring knife, a few other spices, tea, and sugar. For washing hands and dishes, consider carrying a collapsible camp sink, a small sponge, and some biodegradable soap.
Personal Backpacking Gear:
You need personal backpacking gear when traveling alone. Here is a list of items you will need whether you are backpacking for a week or a night only. For novice backpackers, you can borrow essential gear from an experienced backpacker than buying.
While packing backpacking clothing you need to pick items that are quick-drying and made of moisture-wicking fabrics. Cotton clothing is a big no as they take a lot of time to dry up. Packing tips:
• Pack sufficient next-to-skin base layers, it is important for cold temperatures.
• Nylon pants and t-shirts are best hiking wear. You should carry a sun shirt, sun hat and more.
• For colder climates, you will need an insulation wear including jacket, fleece pullover, warm cap, gloves and more.
• A waterproof jacket is a must. Also, carry a waterproof pant and shoes depending on the weather forecast.
• Having a good sleep is important to regain your energy. Pack a tee, bottoms, socks and more to be comfortable while you sleep.
Choosing a comfortable and perfectly fitting footwear is a must for a successful trip. You need to choose a pair that is the best match to your personal likings and at the same time is comfortable. Some backpackers recommend wearing lightweight trail running shoes while others prefer supportive over-the-ankle boots. The choice of footwear also depends upon the trail you choose.
Pair your shoes with wool or synthetic socks and take intervals to air out your feet. You may even change socks and try a fresh pair.
An ideal backpack must have a capacity of 40-60 liters. Whether you buy a new one or borrow one from your friend, always try it once. The best way to try it is loading it with around 30 liters of capacity and going for a short hike. The bag should be highly comfortable on hips and shoulders.
A compressible and lightweight sleeping bag is perfect for backpacking. If you are borrowing a bag do not forget to buy a liner to use along with the bag. In case you are buying a new one, do sufficient research and buy the one that is suitable for most of the weather and temperature conditions.
If you wish to have a good night sleep in the camp, you will need a pad for cushioning and insulation. There are three types of pads available in the market; closed-cell foam, air and self-inflating. Packing size, weight and insulation factor in mind while choosing the best piece.
The ideal choice for food items is freeze-dried meals. You need to add boiling water to it and a filling meal is ready. However, if you do not mind carrying a little more weight, you can pack fresh ingredients and make a more gourmet meal. High-protein energy bars, high-calorie food items and snacks must be a preferred choice of food while backpacking
A few more considerations:
There are many other things that you need to take in account. Like health, safety and more. Also, if you are traveling with kids and pets, you need to take a few more precautions. Pack a bagful of medicines and first aid supplies to ensure you have everything handy during the hike. For kids and pets, pack sufficient food items and choose a route that has all necessary amenities nearby.
Hope this guide will help you have a great time hiking alone, with a group or with family and pets. Happy Backpacking!!