What to Know Before Going Backpacking

Backpacking isn’t for everyone, but if you are interested in giving it a try, it is important to be prepared. I am an avid hiker and recently decided to take on backpacking. If you are someone who doesn’t like hiking, then you most definitely will not like backpacking. In this article, I am going to go over what you should know before you go backpacking.

Start off small

Before going straight to backpacking, I would suggest mastering hiking first. Growing up I have gone on more hikes than I can count. My dad is a big outdoors person and took my family on many, long, grueling hikes. If you have only gone on a few hikes on the shorter side, I would advise going on a few long ones first. Going on a backpacking trip can be anywhere from two days, to a week, to much longer. The point is, backpacking involves very long hiking days and if you are not used to going on long hikes, then backpacking will suck the life out of you. I would suggest going on a two-day backpacking trip if it is your first time because two days can seem like a lot when you have not gone backpacking before.

Bring the right gear 

Bringing the right gear is the most important part of preparing to go backpacking and the easiest place you can go wrong. First of all, you need a good backpack that fits your body and has a layout you like. If you do not buy the correct backpack for your body then you will be very uncomfortable and develop back pain. Dry food is also something you need to buy but I would do a taste test before your backpacking trip. A problem I had on my trip is that I only ended up liking one of the dry food packs I brought and could not eat any of the other ones because they tasted so bad. You will also need to buy a small pot, a stove, and gas for the stove in order to warm up water for your dry food. You will also need matches or a lighter for the stove.

Bringing foldable silverware is also a must to eat your food. Something that I bought that I didn’t end up needing is bowls, instead, I just ate my food straight out of the pack. A water purifier is extremely important to bring because you will run out of water in the first couple of hours of hiking and need more clean water to drink and cook the food with. You will also need to buy a backpacking tent and a sleeping bag if you don’t have one already. I bought a two-size person tent to have more room and to be able to take a friend along with me. It is also important to take into consideration what degrees the sleeping bag is because the deciding factor will depend on how cold or hot the nights get. Buying an inflatable backpacking pillow is also a necessity because you will not have enough room to take a regular pillow. You will also need to buy a net and rope to put your food in to keep it away from animals. Other things to bring are sunscreen, sunglasses, bug repellent, wipes, toilet paper, a shovel to dig your waste, toothpaste, a toothbrush and a change of clothes. 

The Nights Can Be Long

Hiking long distances have never been hard for me, but the nights are what got me. Sleeping in a tent is never going to be the comfiest sleeping arrangement and it can be hard to sleep at times. Despite having a good inflatable pillow and sleeping pad, I still found myself tossing and turning all night. Backpacking tents are also pretty small and sleeping in a small space can be hard when you are used to having more room to move around in. However, not being comfortable isn’t what got me, it was all the noises around me. I am someone who is used to sleeping in complete silence and having so many unfamiliar noises kept me up. There were sounds of chirping frogs, wild animals, wind, leaves brushing, and dirt bikers. On my first backpacking trip, I was super paranoid that a bear was going to break into my tent because the wind kept making loud noises against my tent. Having sleepless nights can seem daunting but with time you will get accustomed to sleeping outdoors.

Backpacking is Not Luxurious

 Backpacking involves not being able to shower, going to the bathroom in the woods, and being covered in sweat, dirt, bug repellent, and sunscreen. One of the hardest parts of backpacking is feeling gross a lot of the time and not being able to shower after a long hike. Your tent is also the only place you have to sit down in so if you want to enjoy the view, chances are you will either be sitting on a rock, log or on the floor. The best chance you have at getting clean is if you bring wipes or if there is a lake nearby you can go for a swim in. Getting dirty is something you have to expect when backpacking and if you are someone who hates getting dirty, backpacking might not be for you.

Going on a backpacking trip requires a lot of preparing but it is well worth it. I would recommend that everyone should go on a backpacking trip if they like the outdoors because it is a unique experience. Taking time away from technology and materialistic things and living off the minimum is a refreshing experience.