Backpacking is a unique adventure that combines elements of hiking and backcountry camping.
It allows you to get closer to nature, broaden your horizons, immerse yourself in the wild outdoors, and can let you take a well-needed break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
But whether you’re planning to buy Langtang Valley trek and go for a big adventure, or you just want to keep it simple and drive up to the nearest trail, you must take time and effort to prepare yourself as best as you can. After all, you’re going to carry everything you need in your backpack, so efficient and smart packing is vital.
You’ll also need to consider whether you want to go on your own or take some company with you, choose your destination, carefully plan the route and get your camping gear in order — and that’s just the tip of an iceberg!
If you want to make sure that your backpacking trip goes safely and smoothly, read the article below and learn a few proven tips that will help ensure your first backpacking trip isn’t your last but rather the beginning of your love affair with many more to come.
Start With a Plan and Carefully Choose Your Destination
You’ll need to decide where exactly you want to go and plan your route. If you’ve never done it before, it’s best to choose a place that’s close enough so you can get there quickly. Yet, it should be far away from home so you can experience a sense of isolation from your usual daily routine.
While backpacking, you won’t have access to modern facilities and amenities and will have to rely on nature and your own wits to survive. With this being said, don’t make things more difficult on yourself by choosing a destination that’s too remote or challenging. It’s best to start with an easy and accessible location, so you’ll be able to enjoy every single moment of your backpacking trip without being too exhausted to take in the nature around you.
If you prefer going somewhere close to home rather than abroad, opt for Wales or Scotlandl. You could also take a weekend trip backpacking during winter and go somewhere snowy and breathtakingly beautiful, like the Cairngorms National Park. This is one of the snowiest places in the UK.
No matter what destination you choose, always check local conditions and requirements before setting off on your trip. Make sure you know all the camping rules, regulations, and restrictions that apply to the place you’re going to visit.
Ensure You Have Backpacking Footwear
One of the first things you’ll need to do is get yourself a good pair of backpacking footwear. This is essential because your shoes will carry your whole weight, as well as the weight of your backpack, and they are supposed to protect your feet from different hazards, such as sharp rocks, thorns, sticks, and branches.
The best backpacking shoes should have a sturdy and supportive upper, a durable and stable sole with excellent grip, and be lightweight and flexible enough not to restrict your foot’s movement. They should let your feet breathe so they stay cool and dry when you’re on the go, which can be achieved by using mesh or open-air construction. Besides, they should offer protection against water, debris, and other elements that you may encounter on your way.
Once you have your perfect pair of backpacking shoes in place, look for backpacking socks that will match the weather conditions and prevent blisters.
Choose the Right Backpack
Having a good backpack for backpacking is an absolute must! Your bag should be big enough to fit all your gear but not too big to make it uncomfortable to carry on your shoulders. Its frame should be solid and adequately padded, while its shoulder straps should be adjustable and come with load-lifter straps that will make it easier to carry your load.
If you want to keep your backpack’s contents safe and secure:
- Consider buying a backpack with a top lid pocket and zippered hip belt pockets.
- Pick a backpack with a rain cover to protect it against weather damage.
- If you’re backpacking in a humid climate, make sure you choose a waterproof backpack or at least an internal liner that will protect your belongings from water damage.
Finally, always remember to properly maintain your backpack to ensure it lasts for many more trips. Keep it clean and wash it regularly after each trip, then hang it up in a well-ventilated area or in the sun to dry before packing it again. Ensure the straps are in good condition and the buckles work correctly. If they break or fail during your trip, you might end up losing some of your belongings.
Prepare Essential Gear
Last but not least, decide which type of camping gear would be most suitable for your trip. You can use backpacking tents if you’re only going to be out for a couple of days or car camping tents if you plan on staying longer.
You might want to opt for a sleeping bag that’s perfect for colder temperatures if you’re going to sleep in the wild. Furthermore, if you’re planning on taking cooking equipment with you, opt for lightweight, portable stoves rather than heavy kitchen stoves.
Don’t forget about essentials such as flashlights, batteries, a first aid kit, fuel for your stove, and maps of the region that you’re going to backpack through. Don’t forget to bring a compass and a GPS device with you, too. Additionally, never go on a trail without your phone — it should be fully charged in case any emergency happens along the way, so consider taking some power banks with you.
Backpacking is a fun way of exploring nature and getting out of your comfort zone. However, it’s essential to plan ahead and be well prepared for your first backpacking trip or any other adventure that you take in the future. You need to think about the length of your trip, the type of terrain you will cover, and what could go wrong — and then you can actually start packing your backpack.
It’s not just about learning how to backpack safely; it’s also about enjoying the serenity that nature provides and appreciating the beautiful scenery around you. So go out there, get ready to take on nature, and have fun!