The Basics of A Safe and Rewarding Backpacking Travel


Is it your first time to go backpacking? Are you excited? Do you have the essentials needed to ensure a safer and more fulfilling outdoor adventure? So, before you head to the wilderness, it is highly recommended to consult your backpacking checklist and be sure to know the gears you will be bringing.

The expert advices about backpacking are:

Pick an Experienced Backpacking Partner

Go with an experienced backpacking friend. He can give you peace of mind and assurance knowing he has your back. Shared backpacking is usually more fun and exciting than going solo. Been-there/done-that friends can improve your learning curve as they impart the wisdom they have gained of years of backpacking.

Choose an Appropriate Backpacking Destination

When going for the first time, backpacking destination’s length and difficulty is one of the most important factors to consider.

Trip Distance

For new backpacker, one-night trip is good. Standard round-trip distance is 10 miles or less. It is reassuring to realize that going out your comfort zone is not too far distant.

If you decide to go for two-night trips, you can consider setting camp on the first night and then take the hike on the next day. Go back to the base camp the same day that night. In this way, for just two days you can a full backpack.

Backpacking Trip Information

Websites, magazines: There are various hiking websites and they can be great sources however, the reliability cannot be trusted. Magazines are solid resources too, and some national parks and forests keep online trail-condition reports.

You well-travel friends can help recommend you good destinations that fit your abilities and preferences.

Guidebooks: Some of the travelers’ rate their trips not for the adventure but the picturesque quality and this can be very helpful in choosing a major trail. Their 5-star places usually attract crowds; therefore do not expect solitude unless you visit midweek.

Pick Your Backpacking Gear

Your right backpacking travel gear ensures you have the essentials for safety and comfort and prepares you to handle emergencies and disasters. Two the essentials you may never use are the compass or use firestarter but it is good to take them with you.

Stoves, comfortable sleeping pads, camp pillows are some of the home equipment you can have for your lightweight backpacking.

Always think light. Go for pack weight that is convenient, say about 30 pounds. And yes, you can bring camera, headlamp, sunscreen and toilet paper. You can have

Before deciding to purchase a backpacking gear, it is good to try big-ticket items such as bags and tents in order to know your preferences.

How to Choose and Pack a Backpack

Here are the details you have to know when choosing the right backpack:

Capacity. The number in pack names refers to the pack’s volume in liters. A common backpacking size for weekend trips which is about 1–3 nights is 35–50 liters. The packs of 50–80 liters id for the multiday trips (3–5 nights) and for longer travels, or if you’re carrying a lot of winter of kid’s gear is about 70 and higher.

Size. What you do not know is backpacks are measure according to torso length, not a person’s height. You can ask your friend to measure your torso length and it by measuring the distance between the top of your hips to your C7 vertebrae—that bony protrusion near the base of your neck.

Loading and adjusting a pack. Backpacks are designed to carry most of the loads while your shoulders are relaxed. Your heavy gear must be closed to your back and near your shoulders.

Backpacking Clothing

Base layer. Bring clothing made of moisture-wicking polyester or wool as they are dry easier.

Pants or shorts. Convertible pants are popular among backpackers ad the lower-leg portions can be zipped off if they want more air and sun.

Footwear. Full- or mid-cut boots are traditional backpacking footwear, but some prefer using hiking shoes or trail runners. Athletic footwear and tennis shoes are also too comfortable for roots and rocks on trails.

Socks. Never use cotton as they give you blisters while hiking. Wool or synthetic hiking socks are the recommended ones.

Head cover. Use caps, hats, buffs and bandanas. You need to shield your scalp form all-day sun exposure and do not forget to wear sunscreen.

Outerwear. Though the weather is fine, bring rain jacket as it helps you avoid chills early or late in the day.

Food and Food Storage

Dinner. Bring freeze-dried foods that need a few cups of boiling water and 10 minutes of waiting.

Rest of the day. There are backpackers that take time to cook food while others prefer ready-to-eat breakfast. The lunch can be a meal or just snacks such as dried fruit, trail mix, jerky, chunks of cheese and energy foods (including bars, chews and gels).

Coffee. Yes, there are lightweight French coffee presses.

Food storage. Bring a container to store your foods or know how to hang them for consumption later. Never leave your food unattended or else animals will attack them.

Electronics and Apps for Backpacking

When you are in the wilderness, expect to have a low cell phone reception. This is risky especially if you are hiking on the trails you are not familiar with or is new to you. This is where BackCountry Navigator TOPO GPS becomes helpful. Download the app in your smartphone and use your phone or tablet as an offroad topo mapping handheld GPS with the bestselling outdoor navigation app for Android! You can also download topo maps for the US and many other countries in advance, so you won’t need cell coverage for navigation. Use storage memory for maps.

About topo (topographic) maps: Topo maps show terrain through color and contours, and are useful for navigation offroad. Topo maps and GPS can be used for hiking, hunting, kayaking, snowshoeing, & backpacker trails.

Also, use the offline topo maps and GPS on hiking trails without cell service. The GPS in your Android phone can get its position from GPS satellites, and you do not have to rely on your data plan to get maps. Therefore, conquering the backcountry with this GPS navigation app is safer and more secure.

Portable power sources like solar chargers give you energy to charge to emptied smartphone or electronics.

If You Get Lost

If ever you get lost, remember the acronym the Emergency Response Institute of Olympia, Wash have made: S-T-O-P. Stop, Think, Observe and Plan.

Stop: If you do not feel any secure in your location, do not go any farther or panic. However, the rule changes if you are in the area where it is not safe anymore or someone needs medical attention. Breathe and count to 10, drink some water or eat a little food, it can make your situation lighter and you can better think of the next move.

Think: If something not right happens, can you navigate back? Can you see landmarks like a road or trail? If so, carefully go back to that spot and reassess your options.

Observe: Always be alert and observant of your surroundings. Picture in your mind all the distinctive features you spotted as you arrive to your current position.

Plan: If you are with a group, discuss a plan. If you are not, it helps to talk your plan aloud as if you were explaining to your friend. If it makes sense, follow your plan and if not, review your plan. If the situation changes as you follow that plan, use “STOP” again to reevaluate chances for a safe survival and recovery.

So, planning ahead and having your comprehensive backpacking checklists ensure that your trip come off successfully because the last thing you want to have happen are those unexpected surprises that ruin what should otherwise be an enjoyable and rewarding experience.