Backpacking Basics For Beginners.

So you like the idea of really getting out into the wilds by starting to backpack? Its a pastime that more and more people world wide are starting to embrace and for good reason, just look at a few of the pictures in this article and you will see why.

Backpacking TrailsBackpacking trips can be as simple as a short overnight hike or as complex and difficult as hiking something like the Pacific Crest Trail or the Caminito del Rey which is regarded as one of the most difficult and dangerous trails in the world.

Starting to backpack from scratch requires that you follow a steep learning curve as there are many problems that you can easily avoid if you choose the right equipment and outfit yourself correctly. Not only that but having the right gear will mean a much more enjoyable trip so here is a great article I found on Camping Blogger that will get you pointed in the right direction… read on

A famous man with the last name Einstein once said “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” If you want to try something new, you will make a mistake. No matter what it is that you’re trying, mistakes are part of life.

When it comes to backpacking, this is especially true. Sometimes mistakes are as tiny as taking a wrong turn on the drive to the trailhead; other times backpacking mistakes can be much more serious (say, if you forget to seal up your dinner in a bear canister). I’ve been backpacking for many years now and I’d be lying if I said I never make mistakes anymore.

Over the years I’ve taken lots of people out into the backcountry on their first backpacking trips, and I’ve noticed a lot of common mistakes those people make. With summer rapidly approaching, chances are one of the readers of this post will be heading out for their first backpacking trip. If so, check out these common mistakes, so you can be sure you avoid them.

Choosing the Wrong Backpack

Large BackpackBeginning backpackers often underestimate the importance of choosing the right backpack. There are an infinite number of things that you should consider when choosing a backpack, but there are three main things to take into account:

1) Torso Length

Many people make the mistake of choosing a backpack relative to their overall height. This is in fact what you shouldn’t do, as you should instead choose your backpack relative to your torso. To make sure you get the best fitted backpack for your trek, visit a local outdoor supply store and get fitted for one.

2) Backpacking Style

Some backpackers prefer to sacrifice some comfort for the sake of a light backpack. Other backpackers prefer to have a heavier pack if it means more comfort at the campsite. This choice is completely up to you, and it’s something to keep in mind when choosing a pack.

If you are really serious about this then make sure you buy decent equipment, this does not mean it has to be hugely expensive, there is a lot of gear on places like amazon that you can get at good prices but make sure you do your research before you buy, it will make a world of difference it really will. Here is some more of the original article….

3) Trip Length

For shorter trips, you’ll want a smaller and lighter pack. For longer trips, you want a pack that can fit more gear. If you plan on backpacking a lot, I’d suggest purchasing two backpacks: one for short trips and one for long trips.

Consider all three of the above things when choosing a backpack, and you’ll be comfortable and efficient when you hit the backcountry. Don’t make the mistake of choosing the wrong one, like many backpackers before you have.

Being Over-Prepared

reasons to go backpacking The motto of the Boy Scouts is to “Be Prepared”. When backpacking, this advice is absolutely critical. Although, there is such thing as being over-prepared. I took my brother-in-law backpacking through the Sierras a few summers ago. It was an easy trek, just for two nights. He packed enough stuff to last a week.

My brother-in-law went out and bought all kinds of expensive, top-of-the-line gadgets that we just didn’t have any use for. All it meant for him was that he had to carry more stuff in his pack. While a USB powered camp stove is definitely cool, it’s a little much for the backcountry.

When prepping for your first backpacking trip, only take what you need; no more, no less. Find a backpacking checklist and make sure you’re not over-preparing. Even adding a small gadget to your pack might make a big difference if you’re going to be carrying it on your back for multiple miles.

Being Underprepared

On the flip side, many first time backpackers hit the trails underprepared. The effects of being underprepared can range from being uncomfortable to downright dangerous, which is why it’s important to make sure you review the backpacking checklist to make sure you’ve got what you need.

Make sure you have the right gear for the expedition you’re going on. This means making sure your sleeping bag will provide adequate warmth, your clothes are correct for the situation, and you’ve got a first aid kit that can handle anything that could happen. The last thing you want is to be up a creek without a paddle.

Ignoring the Forecast

I’ll admit: this is something that even I am still guilty of. I rarely let weather ruin a planned weekend in the backcountry, but if the forecast calls for serious weather than I typically rethink my plans. I’ve known some beginning backpackers that don’t, though.

If you’re a beginner, the forecast is especially important to pay attention to. Even a bit of light rain could mean you need to seriously reconsider what you’re packing. You might have to reconsider your clothes, your camping tents, and even the type of pack you’re bringing and its weight. Additionally, simply checking your iPhone weather app won’t cut it. Use the National Weather Service’s website in order to get the most accurate forecast.

Ok this really only touches on the basics of starting to backpack, really it’s something you should never stop learning and finding better ways and better equipment for but like anything the best way is to just get started. Find a decent store and go and look at gear even if you don’t buy there and then.

Here is a quick list of pretty essential equipment to start off with

Good Boots
Backpack That Fits Correctly
Quality Cooking Equipment- There is nothing worse than going hungry
Lightweight Tent – unless you plan on using huts on your route which some places have but this is pretty limiting.
Decent Layered Clothing- Depending on climate and time of year obviously.
A GPS if you can afford it but a Compass is essential

Good luck with your next trip, you are starting off on an adventure that can take you to many wonderful places all over the world and most likely you will meet just as many great people who like you enjoy the great outdoor places that we have on our doorsteps. Just take that first step…

Article from Camping Blogger
Images from Wikipedia Commons

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