One of the most common questions I hear, or problems I see happening for people who want to get into backpacking, is – where do I even begin??? Preparing for your first backpacking can be overwhelming.
Don’t worry! I am here to help you plan out your first ever backpacking trip, without overthinking it too much.
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Plan your first backpacking trip:
- Mentally commit to going backpacking, and say it out loud to some close friends, family, or on announce it on social media to help keep you accountable and get some support.
- Pick dates that work for you and fall into a pleasant time of year regarding weather and temperature. Getting comfortable with your gear and with yourself in the wilderness is a feat in and of itself, you don’t need to add battling a snow storm on top of that for your first trip! (In my opinion.)
- Pick a trail by doing a quick internet search of trails in your area or ask other locals where the good spots are. Most websites will have info or reviews stating the trail’s difficulty level – start off easy or intermediate if you’re already in good shape. Look for trails that are at least 15 miles or longer for a multi-day trip. Staying close(r) to home can add a layer of comfort and confidence since you’re already familiar with the local climate, wildlife and know where to get help or supplies if you need them.
- Assemble your gear, lay everything out before your trip to make sure you do have all the backpacking gear you need. Test out any brand new gear at home first to make sure it works properly – for example, bought a new tent? Set it up in the yard to make sure you have all the poles and stakes. Bought a new stove? Light it up on the porch to make sure it works and you know how to use it. The goal is minimize any gear malfunction surprises while you’re out on the trail.
- Make a menu for however many meals you will be on trail for, and create a shopping list. Go shopping for food, and fuel for your stove if you need it. Aim for about 1 lb of food per person per day, plus I usually pack one extra lightweight meal or high calorie snack just for emergencies or in case it takes you longer to get back than you thought it would.
- Pack your pack and off you go!
But don’t over think it:
- Don’t set in stone every mile marker you will camp at, break at, get water at, etc. Know what your options are and know plans may change based on weather, how your body is feeling, or other hikers you meet along the way.
- Don’t set a schedule of exact times you will wake up, eat, reach camp at night, etc. Allow flexibility, the beauty of backpacking is that you get to eat whenever you are hungry and sleep or rest whenever you are tired – the only real ‘time’ is day time or night time. And hey, sleep all day and night all hike if you want to!
- Don’t worry if you or your gear is ‘good enough’ to be on the trail. You don’t need the newest, lightest gear (but that would be nice!) if it works – you have a warm place to sleep, food to eat, and shoes to carry you through – then it is good enough!
Share your biggest struggle when it comes to planning a trip in the comments below!
For more posts about planning hiking or backpacking trips, check these out:
- How To Plan Ahead and Prepare – The Leave No Trace Way
- What I Wish I Knew Before Hiking The AT Alone
- 3 Tips To Have More Adventures In Your Life
- 10 Essential Backpacking Skills Every Hiker Needs