How To Get Started!

Are you new to backpacking? Do you want to try it out but don’t know where to start, or maybe you are wondering what is involved? Here are some of the basic things that are important for getting started. This article will cover what kind of clothing and equipment are needed for a trip as well as trying to answer some basic questions about backpacking.

1) Backpacks

The backpack you choose is one of the most important pieces of equipment you will buy for this sport. You don’t want to skimp on your backpack because it is something that will be with you every step of the way and a good pack makes a huge difference in how much pleasure you get from your trip. 

A good backpack will be lightweight, comfortable, fit well and hold all of your gear with some room to spare. This is the type of pack you want to look for: internal frame 

Make sure that you try out any pack that you intend to buy before buying it. There are some packs that have adjustable suspension systems, these are usually very expensive but often worth the price if you intend to carry a heavy load.

2) Clothing

The right clothing also helps make the experience more enjoyable. As a beginner you don’t need to buy anything special, just go with what you have that offers good protection from the weather and provide good warmth in inclement conditions. 

As a rule of thumb it is a good idea to dress lighter than you think is necessary because if your clothes get wet then you will cool off and be too cold to enjoy yourself. You want to dress in layers:

* Underlayer: this is base layer which you next to your skin, it should wick moisture away from your body, so do not choose cotton as a fabric for any of these items. 

** Put on this layer next to your skin before putting on the other layers.

* Outer layer: this is probably a fleece or down jacket, it should be windproof and fairly waterproof (a good test to see if something is water proof is to blow up a balloon and put it inside your clothing). You should take off this outer layer when you get too hot or stop for a rest.

* Rain layer: this is for inclement weather. A good choice would be a waterproof/breathable jacket and pants, these are much more breathable than Gore-Tex which requires you to wear other layers underneath the rain gear. 

The right footwear is something that often gets overlooked but makes a big difference in your comfort level. It is important to have good boots for this sport, but you do not need to go out and buy a special backpacking boot just yet. 

A good pair of hiking boots with ankle support will work fine until you are ready to invest in that type of footwear. The most important thing about your shoes is that they be comfortable, because if they are not you won’t want to wear them.

3) Gear

The most important piece of gear that you will need for your first backpacking trip is the knowledge required to have a safe and enjoyable experience. You should take some time to learn about your equipment before heading out on the trail. Here are some things to think about:

** How do your boots fit? You should be able to wiggle your toes and they should not be crammed into the toe of the boot. 

** How does your backpack fit? It should feel like you are wearing a part of your body, it is very uncomfortable if it sits too high or too low on your back.

** Learn how to set up and take down your tent and know what all of its parts are called and what they do. 

** It is a good idea to test out some new gear at home before you head out on the trail, this will help you to make sure that you have packed the right clothes, food and equipment.

4) Planning for your Trip

Your trip will go a lot better if you plan ahead, this includes making sure that you have the right equipment, clothing and supplies. Some things to decide are: 

** How much food should I take? You can usually get by on between 2,000-3,000 calories per day. 

** How much water will I need? If you are hiking in hot weather you should plan on drinking up to 4 liters of water per day. 

** Where am I going to camp? You can camp pretty much anywhere except for Wilderness Areas (where camping is not allowed) and National Parks (where camping is only allowed in pre-designated campgrounds). 

Some other things that should be considered are: 

** What will the weather be like? This should be a major consideration as certain equipment works best under specific circumstances. For instance, water proof/breathable clothing should not be worn when it is raining since moisture will wick up through the fabric and soak your clothes underneath.

** What type of terrain will I be hiking on? If you are going to do some climbing and scrambling, then a sturdy pair of boots with ankle support would be more appropriate than lightweight trail running shoes. 

** How much time can I spend on the trail? You should ask yourself what is an acceptable amount of time that you can spend out on the trail, and then plan accordingly. For example, if you only have a weekend available than you should camp close to your car so that you will not have to hike as far each day.

5) Getting Started

There are many benefits of backpacking listed above such as building character and teaching focus. However, for most people the physical benefits of hiking far outweigh these other possible advantages. 

Hiking has been shown to reduce stress and lower blood pressure better than any medication prescribed by a doctor. Hiking is also a great way to lose weight as it takes more energy to carry your gear than it does to walk with it on your back.

6) Final Thoughts

Of course you should always be careful when backpacking, but it is a very safe sport if proper safety precautions are followed. The most important thing to remember is that no two trips are exactly alike, so just go out there and have fun!

Are you interested in backpacking? Have you ever considered how to start hiking or are you just looking for some new tips and tricks to make your next trip more enjoyable? If the answer is yes, then this blog post will provide a wealth of information that can help.  We’ve talked about what equipment is necessary, where best to camp out on the trail, as well as all of the benefits that come with it.