Backpacking in the woods in one of the most rewarding vacation you can get (and they’re cheap too). It brings you closer to nature, you get to experience its beauty, it makes you fit and more.
It involves “carrying your house on your back” as some might say. You need to carry your tent, stove, food, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, clothes and other gear around with you in other to sustain yourself. The best advice for backpacking is probably to carry very little weight. Trust me, you’ll enjoy backpacking more with a light load on your back.
Other tips you might want to consider:
– Make sure you wear really comfortable boots that won’t give you blisters. If you carry a heavy load, you probably won’t be able to get away with wearing tennis shoes because your ankles would need support. I don’t wear heavy boots because it gives me blisters. Carrying a heavier backpack and wearing heavier boots does not make you look like an experienced hiker. Many through-hikers and adventure racers wear sneakers and carry small backpacks.
– Using trekking poles increases you walking efficiency while at the same time give you a better workout. Hiking feels less strenuous when you use trekking poles because the burden is distributed to your upper body so your lower body won’t be doing all the work. Trekking poles can also be used as a tent pole, camera stand, weapon to fend off animals and it helps you keep your balance and walking rhythm.
– Carry lightweight gear and use lightweight alternatives to everything. If you can find gear that have multiple functions then use them. Many lightweight alternatives are available today.
– Use a tarp and bivvy combination. There are 2 man tents today that are even lighter than a bivvy sack but they also cost a lot of money. As an alternative, you can use a tarp (alone or with a bivvy). Tarps save you a lot of weight as opposed to using conventional tents.
– Don’t forget the camping mattress. Some beginners then to leave the camping mattress out because they think it is not necessary but unless you sleep cold and can sleep on the hard ground it really is an essential gear. A good night’s sleep is really important on a backpacking trip because you’ll need the energy for hiking the next day.
– Prepare well for rain and cold. The cold can kill you so remember to bring along your raingear and fleece. Consider a fleece cap and balaclava as well because they really help you keep warm.
– Change into clean, dry clothing just before going to sleep if possible. The oils from your body makes insulation from your clothing and sleeping bag less effective. Clean clothing helps you keep warm at night.
– Carry a lightweight backpacking stove. I once survived on a backpacking trip without carrying a camp stove. It’s not because I didn’t think it was unnecessary, I just didn’t know any better. You could probably survive without one too but not all hiking trails allow campfires and cooking with it is quite slow. I recommend propane stoves for short trips and liquid fuel stove for longer trips and at high elevation and extreme cold.
– Don’t leave any signs of food near you when you sleep. This includes smell because wild animals have a strong sense of smell. Stop and cook a mile or two from where you intend to set up camp. Store your food in a bear bag hung high on a tree and out of reach of animals. Never put food inside your tent or near you.