Physical and mental wellness, boosting confidence, experiencing adventures, learning new skills, connecting with nature, improving your social life, and learning to be more open-minded are some of the perks of backpacking. Backpacking combines wild camping with trekking or hiking for a beautiful and immersive outdoor adventure. This is great, but if we do it for the first time, we are backpacking beginners. And it can be a very exciting new experience for us.
However, poor planning can make backpacking go from one of the best to the worst experiences of your life. For instance, with so much to pack for you’ll commonly see people forgetting essentials, such as travel documents, clothes, phone chargers – it’s so much to remember!
A tech survival kit can help with this, but you should know that it is very common for beginners. Don’t let it destroy your entire backpacking experience before it even starts. This is our guide to some of the most important things you need to know for your backpacking adventure:
1. Choosing the destination
The impact of the destination on your backpacking trip is immeasurable. It determines what you should pack, what to wear, the difficulty, and even the duration of the trip. For your first trails, you should choose easy backpacking trails that don’t push you beyond your physical limits.
Use these hiking trails to build up your confidence and improve your skills and experience before choosing advanced tracks. Your choice should be influenced by your navigation skills, the difficulty of the terrain, the availability of water sources, the elevation of the trail, your health, and fitness level, and the weather conditions.
2. Planning the transportation
This can be very essential too. You can choose your destinations, hiking, or longer trekking routes, but how about the starting and the ending points of these routes? Yes, there are some cases when you can just go to a railway or a bus station, or even go hitchhiking and you can arrive at your starting point.
However, some destinations are poorly connected by public transport, or require buying tickets in advance. Yes, you can rent a car, but there is another problem: in this case you trekking route can be only a circle- starts and ends at the same point, where you would park your car, unless you arrange a complicated scheme with two cars or combine it with public transport.
On top of that, we live in a world with deadlines. Various options can be planned, but we usually still have to do our trip on time.
3. Arranging the necessary documents
Of course, it depends on where your destination is located. If it is near your hometown, in the same country, in an area without any restrictions, that’s ok. But if you go to an exotic place like Tibet, or another area with restrictions, you have to obtain not only a passport, probably a visa, but also some necessary permits.
Otherwise, you can prepare your luggage, your air tickets, your time, and everything else for an exciting trek, and when you go there, everything could fail.
4. Planning for emergencies
Planning for the worst is necessary when backpacking, so you should carry emergency support supplies such as a first aid kit, tech survival kit, satellite radio/messengers, personal locator, a map, a compass, and headlamp, among others. More importantly, you should ensure that you notify friends or family before heading out for your trip.
5. Packing for your trip
We recommend that beginners use a packing checklist for the backpacking trip. Weight is the most important aspect of consideration and should be 15% – 20% of your weight. That said, these are some of the most important essentials you need for a backpacking trip but are likely to overlook:
- Hammock or tent
There are different types of tents, but as a beginner, we recommend going for the 3-Season or 4-Season tents. The 4-Season tents are best for extreme weather conditions that may be encountered in areas with higher elevations. A hammock is best for warmer seasons and can save up a lot of space while guaranteeing your comfort. More importantly, you get to save on the sleeping pad and it is easier to deal with bugs while on a hammock.
- Sleeping bag and Sleeping pad
Like tents, consider the 3-Season or 4-Season sleeping mat for your first trip. For sleeping pads, pay attention to the insulation value (commonly known as R rating). An R rating of 2 – 2.5 is best for your sleeping pad.
- Water purifier
This is important to help you get clean and safe drinking water without setting up your stove each time for boiling water. Additionally, you save up on fuel. Water purification tablets or drops are the best options if you want to save up on space, but they add a chemical taste to your water.
- Backpacking stove and utensils
Eating dry meals throughout the entire trip can put a serious dampener on your mood. Hot meals are a necessity, not just for comfort and nutrition, but also to keep you warm. We recommend a single-burner stove. Of course, you shouldn’t forget utensils.
Freeze-dried food, while expensive, is excellent for your backpacking trip. Plan your meals beforehand to avoid packing more than necessary. Add food for one more day than your planned trip in case you stay on your trip for longer.
6. What to wear
The destination and season have a significant impact on your backpacking wardrobe. For shoes, you should buy a comfortable pair of hiking shoes, which provide better ankle support. Buy multiple pairs for when your shoes get wet on the trail. Additionally, buy open shoes, such as sandals for use when you camp. Choose lightweight, breathable, and quick-drying clothes for your wardrobe. Layering clothes is an excellent way to keep warm at night.
This guide doesn’t cover all the considerations for backpacking beginners. However, it should provide you with a pretty good idea of what you need to consider for your backpacking trip. Pay attention to wildlife precautions and leave as little footprint as possible on your trip.
Hi, we are Krasen and Ying Ying. Krasen is from Bulgaria, and Ying Ying is from China. We are passionate about geography and history, and we believe that the best way to experience it is by exploring the Earth in reality, not in a school, and not virtually.
So, we created this blog Journey Beyond the Horizon, where we share geographical knowledge, travel guides and tips how to experience it when you explore our planet, and a lot of inspiration.
And we wish you a happy journey, not just virtually, but most of all- in reality.