If you take camping and hiking and mix them both together, you get backpacking, or backpack camping. It can be challenging and maybe even a little intimidating sometimes mainly because anything that you bring has to fit in a backpack and you have to be able to carry it with you to your destination. But I believe that it is well worth it!
Maybe there’s a spot on a hill overlooking a beautiful valley or a secluded place in the woods next to a stream. Well, with a little preparation and planning you can make that place your bedroom for the night. So first thing’s first, you should decide where you would like to camp for the night.
Pick A Location
If it’s your first time backpacking, there are a few things to consider. You may want to stick to an area that you are comfortable with. Preferably a trail and a campsite that isn’t too isolated or isn’t too far from help, just in case of an emergency. Or if you need help with something, there will be nearby campers to lend a helping hand.
But whether you’re a newbie or a veteran there are some guidelines to go by. For instance one rule of thumb is that you should only camp at a designated campsite (this mainly applies to state parks) or if you’re primitive camping, try to find a site that appears to have been camped before. And always leave the woods just how you found it, if not better. In other words please don’t leave any waste behind.
And it’s nice to camp near a water source so you can have access to it but remember to set camp up at least 200 feet from said body of water as to avoid contamination. Also, try to find flat, level ground to set up camp. Avoid low lying areas that may collect water if it rains and attract mosquitoes.
Check out this video for more awesome ideas on how to choose the best campsite:
What Should You Pack?
What to bring on your backpacking trip is going to depend a couple of different things like how long of a trip it’s going to be, or what the weather is going to be like. If it’s going to be a long trek through the wilderness, you are going to need more supplies than if it’s just an overnight thing close to home. But the less stuff you bring, the lighter you backpack will be. And the more stuff, the heavier.
But here’s a basic list of camping necessities for backpackers:
- Hiking Shoes or Boots
- Food and Water
- Sleeping Bag and Sleeping Pad
- Stove and Fuel
- Kitchen Supplies
- Water Filter or Purifier
- First Aid Kit
- Repair Kit
- Appropriate Clothing for Local Weather
Again, this is just a basic list. You may want to look up some more to give yourself more ideas. One of the most important things on this list is food so let’s talk a little about that.
Most backpackers will tell you that when they’re out there in the wilderness, food is for one thing and one thing only…. fuel for the body. And this is true because when you’re carrying all of your gear on your back, you can’t afford to bring extra things, only the necessities.
But this doesn’t mean the food has to be flavorless and boring. There’s plenty of dehydrated foods out there that actually taste pretty good. And they’re ready-to-eat also. All that you do is boil some water and poor it on the dehydrated food in the bag and voila!
You can cook at home and freeze-dry the food to bring with you or you can order online from companies like Backpacker’s Pantry or Mountain House.
There are several different kinds of backpacking stoves to choose from. Most of them are very small, lightweight and portable so you can easily fit them in with your gear.
Snacks are also recommended like chocolate bars or trail mix. Stuff like that.
Make Sure You Are Ready
It’s a good idea to get out there and get ready, physically, and mentally. Do some practice hikes with 30+ lbs. in your backpack and see how you feel. Check your gear and get familiar with it. Practice setting up your tent so you will not have any trouble when it’s time to camp on your trek.
Tell a friend or a family member exactly where you are going to be backpacking and camping and when you are planning to return. That way you will have help on the way should something happen. Better to be safe than sorry.
For some cool tips on how to lighten the load on your shoulders but still have what you need to be comfortable, check out Bearfoot Theory.
I know this article is short and sweet. I hope that it was helpful to you. If you have any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comment section below.
Thank you for reading and i’ll see you on the trail!