There are so many magical places to explore and so many great adventures to have in the great outdoors. Backpacking is sometimes the best way to delve into the wilderness and experience wonderful landscapes.
However, if you’re a backpacking newbie it can be quite daunting and there’s a lot to think about and consider. To ensure you have a safe and enjoyable trip, here are 10 top tips to help you on your first backpacking exploit.
1. Don’t dive in at the deep end
It’s only natural to want to jump straight in and head for those super exotic destinations that everyone talks about. However, if you’re backpacking for the first time, it’s a good idea to start small. This is one of those times that throwing yourself straight in the deep end may not be the best plan. Start small and work your way up to a bigger adventure. A few smaller trips at first will allow you to practice and get used to the backpacking experience, as it can be quite a culture shock.
2. Pick an easy destination
Choose an easy backpacking destination where the hikes aren’t too difficult and the weather will be good so it’s more likely that you’ll enjoy your first trip and you won’t be put off for next time. Choose your route wisely, somewhere that doesn’t have too much elevation, is a common trail and has a well-established camp with water nearby is recommended.
3. Use blogs and expert advice
There are so many blogs out there, just like this one, that has expert advice and tips for backpacking adventures. Most of them have been written by experienced backpackers that have a huge amount of knowledge in certain destinations, areas and types of backpacking and the advice they offer can be very valuable. They will have made all the mistakes and will tell you exactly how to avoid them.
4. Pack plenty of food water
Make sure you are prepared with plenty of food and water. It’s important that you pack enough for your whole trip but also that it’s the right type of food. You will need a lot of energy so make sure you make nutritional choices. Cereal bars, protein bars, dried fruit and granola are good snacking options. Easy, instant all in one meals are great for dinner, things like packaged rice and noodle meals. Breakfast is very important when backpacking as you need to start the day with lots of energy, hot oatmeal is highly recommended.
As well as choosing the right food it’s important that it is stored properly so that it will last longer and wild animals can’t get their hands on it. It could be worth investing in smell proof backpacks and proper food storage containers.
5. Don’t overpack
Don’t forget you are going to be carrying your bag on your back, so every extra item is extra weight on your back. You need to account for the weight of water, which is probably the most important thing you’re going to pack. So, pack light, only take with you what is an absolute must and try to find the lightest supplies.
Write a checklist of the essentials and start packing early so that you have time to add/remove things and rejig.
6. Take essential clothing
This can very much depend on your destination but there’s a standard for what type of clothing you need when backpacking.
Base layers are important because even though it might be warm during the day it can get cold during the night.
Waterproof clothing is also essential and hiking clothing such as t-shirts and nylon pants. Depending on where you’re going warm clothing such as a lightweight puffer jacket and light jumper might be needed.
7. Take lightweight equipment
The equipment you take with you needs to be lightweight as you’ll be carrying it yourself. Therefore, regular camping equipment and home utensils cannot be used, and you’ll have to invest in backpacking equipment. If you don’t want to splash the cash on the first time you can rent most of the things that you’ll need.
- sleeping bag and cushion
- cooking and eating equipment
8. Research the rules
There are still rules and regulations when it comes to backpacking and before setting off on your adventure it’s important to research and make sure you are aware of any regulations in the area you are heading to. There can be restrictions on camping and fires in certain places that you will need to understand.
9. Pick appropriate footwear
Having the right shoes could be the key to your backpacking success. Make sure the shoes you choose are comfortable and have good grip but are also light. Socks can be just as important, make sure you have padded socks and have packed multiple pairs.
10. Get good travel insurance
If you’re going abroad on your backpacking exploit make sure you sort out good travel insurance before departing. Travel insurance will protect you should you need emergency medical treatment whilst on your trip.
Finally, and most importantly when on your backpacking adventure take in your surroundings and truly enjoy the experience. If it’s your first time it can be easy to worry about all the little things; What have I forgotten? Which route shall I take? Where will I sleep? If you’ve prepared well, then everything should go smoothly.