First Time Backpackers

Backpacking is great. It can be hard though, especially if you are new to it. There are some things that every first timer should know before heading out on the trail. This article is going to cover those things, so you have a better chance of succeeding.

1) It is an expensive hobby.

First, you need to know that if you don’t already have it, gear is expensive. You can find some deals here and there, but in general it’s going to cost a lot of money . Make sure that you do your research before buying anything because most likely what you buy will not be best for your body type. 

2) The gear does wear out.

Your pack is going to get dirty, worn out, and smelly over time too. Also, not everyone has the best sense of smell so you may walk into camp one day smelling like a skunk if you don’t clean your tent each week. Check all of your seams for holes before leaving on a trip and test out your backpack too because something could break on the trail.

3) You need to start planning before you go.

Are you going to be hiking in National Parks or State Parks? Are you going solo, with a group, backpacking with your significant other, kids , pets , or just the dog ? Your plans need to be finalized before you go or else people will get mad that they aren’t going with you, and then your trip will suck.

In general, plan out your trip at least three months in advance if not more. This way you have all the time you need to either find a friend to go with or plan an awesome solo experience . This also ensures that you have time to save money, make a list of what gear you need, and get ready.

4) During your trip it will be super hard to find water sometimes.

Here is a tip for those who haven’t been on the trail before: don’t drink ALL of your water supply at once because there may not be a reliable source for the rest of your trip. I know you want to save weight and space in your pack, but you can refill your water at most camping stores, ranger stations , or visitor centers .

5) Don’t bring too much food unless you are going on an over-night hike with a car waiting to pick you up.

Understand that you are going to have to carry your food while hiking. You can bring munchies for trail side snacking, but don’t go overboard with the bulk of it because there are usually places on the trail where you can resupply. Be mindful of what you eat too because some foods may not work well on the trail.

6) Everyone poops, but everyone doesn’t bury it.

You can find a great deal of literature on this topic all over the internet. I have personally buried my waste several times by digging a hole six inches deep and covering it with dirt after using bathroom tissue or wads of toilet paper to lay down on top of the ground . This is not the proper way to do things because it leaves a big smelly mess for everyone else. Bury your waste in cat holes six inches deep and double bag toilet paper. Then when you get back to civilization you can properly dispose of them properly with chemicals and “other” devices that deal with disease and microorganisms.

7) There are different types of hiking.

There are day hikes, over-night hikes , backpacking trips with gear, and then there is section hiking which is basically where you hike on one trail for multiple days by using resupply points on it . You need to know what type of hiker you are so that you can plan appropriately for water, food, and shelter.

8) You will run into some wildlife on your hike.

The animals are out there, but there are some things you can do to avoid being attacked. First of all know that if you see the animal first it is probably scared of you so don’t frighten it off by hollering or throwing rocks at it. Also, leave the wildlife alone if you see them feeding on an animal carcass because they do not want to share their food with you.

9) Don’t just carry one hatchet unless you are cutting down trees for your camp site family living project.

You need a hatchet or axe that is lightweight for chopping wood but also has an edge that is good for carving, scraping, and digging. You also need to know how to use it in case you get lost or need to be rescued .

10) When you’re out in the woods adaptability is your best friend.

Make sure you have quick dry clothes because when it rains everything gets wet, including your clothes. The same thing goes for when it gets cold, so be prepared for this by having extra clothes that are adaptable to change in temperature.

11) Don’t forget about safety on your hike.

Don’t go alone if you aren’t comfortable with hiking alone because you never know what could happen out there. Wild animals can attack you, people can mug you, and the terrain can be overwhelming. Be prepared to survive out there.

13) Get a good pair of boots and break them in before setting foot on the trail because your feet will hurt otherwise.

You don’t want to get blisters while hiking! This means that you can’t wear comfortable old tennis shoes or your feet will pay the price for it.

14) Take a course at your local outdoor shop to learn how to use your gear.

You don’t want to set up your tent wrong and then have everyone in your party get rained or snowed on because you didn’t know what you were doing. You should also take a navigation course to learn how to read maps and use certain devices.

15) Be confident in your abilities before you start.

You should know what type of hiker you are, know how to navigate with a map, know proper first aid techniques, know about the dangers that exist out there, know about which animals pose harm to you , and have the confidence to do it. If you are not confident in your abilities there is a good chance that you will die on the trail because something bad will happen, so be prepared.

16) You should always Hike with someone else, but know when it’s appropriate.

If you go hiking with multiple people don’t split up if it isn’t necessary. When you are hiking alone or with one other person, know when it is appropriate to hike together and when it isn’t depending on the situation at hand.

The first time you backpack can be an overwhelming experience. The good news is that if you do your research and put in the effort, it may not be as challenging as you think. 

This blog was written to help first-time backpackers learn some things they need to know before setting out on their journey into nature. When you’re packing for a backpacking trip, don’t forget about safety! 

If this article has helped prepare anyone for their upcoming backpacking adventure we’d love to hear from them in the comments section below–don’t hesitate!