Exploring nature at its root point can be at the very least an exhilarating adventure. Backpacking requires preparation, knowledge of the terrain and patience to enjoy the whole process. This is especially true if you are a beginner. It is crucial to understand that being prepared for the unexpected will ensure for a pleasant experience.
Guide to Backpacking for Beginners
A lot of knowing what to bring, what type of backpack to have and knowing the terrain only comes from experience. But it is a process and if you enjoy the adventure of the outdoors then you’ll find the learning curve quite pleasing. To get a jump start, see some of our backpacking tips and tricks.
Don’t try and understand everything on your first few tries on backpacking because it won’t happen. It’s a learning process and you get better with experience. What you learn from your first trip you will apply to the second. Did you bring insect repellent? If you didn’t, then you will the next time around. That is something you won’t forget for a long time. This is why it often pays off to go with an experienced backpacker when you’re just starting out. It speeds up your learning curve.
The most experienced backpackers make it look easy, but they all started out learning what they know as well. So have an open mind, listen and learn about everything. If everything about backpacking could be learned in one trip then it wouldn’t be much of a challenge. You will know soon enough if you want to progress further in the sport or not right off the bat.
Read Up on Backpacking
I’m serious here. Reading guides helps a lot because it offers insights from those who have had experienced it. As beginners, these are the knowledgeable bits that we aren’t aware of.
Of the many backpacking books around, my picks would be:
- The Backpacker’s Handbook, 4th Edition
- Backpacking: One Step at a Time
- Basic Essentials Backpacking, 3rd (Basic Essentials Series)
Are You Going on a Day Trip or Overnight Backpacking Trip?
Before going right into your trip, you need to understand yourself at this point. Are you a day hiker or an overnight type of hiker? That is an important aspect of yourself that you have to decide.
Overnight back packers need a lot more to carry versus the day hiker where you make sure that the sun is up for you the whole time. Traveling over multiple days also means being able to make accommodations when night falls. This may be in a cheap bed & breakfast, hostel or setting up tent and camping.
My personal take is to get some day hikes under your belt and see if you do enjoy it. If you do then you can progress onto overnight backpacking. Even with day trips start slowly and go on shorter trips first preferably with someone who already has some experience under their belt. As you get accustomed to it, increase the distance and duration of your trips.
Another tip is it is also best to go in a group. This gives you the security and safety you get with companions. You can help each other out with skills and supplies. For beginners, going to places that are known camp grounds for outdoors enthusiasts also is a good idea.
Daytime hikes and trips are the foundation you can build on. These excursions help you learn, know what to bring, how to take care of yourself in the wilderness and how to find how exactly where you are at when you are in the outdoors.
Beginner Backpacker Essentials
Here are some major categories of backpacking that need to be addressed to ensure a safe and smooth trip.
Safety and first aid kits
You never know when immediate first aid will be needed in case something happens unexpectedly. This is the exact reason why it’s best to hike with at least one other person. Also never forget to pack a first aid kit. If you’re not sure what to include in your first aid kit you can purchase pre-made sets, or see our list here.
Skin care and toiletries
Nature will call at the most inopportune times and being ready with the right material will make the trip a lot more comfortable. Always have a wide brimmed cap, sunglasses and sunscreen with you. Skin and eye protection will protect you from the rays of the sun during the warm weather.
Food and water
These are basic survival needs for any type of trip. Never forget this because everyone needs to eat and drink water sooner or later. Always have more than ample supply of food and water with you. How much will be determined by the length of your trip and how much you need to maintain your energy.
Shoes and clothing
Having the right shoes for the terrain is imperative. Having sure footing on rocks and in steep terrain will hold your balance well. If the weather is inclement then you also need to have lightweight clothes that will protect you from the elements as well. For more on this see what to wear in your journey here.
Learn and Enjoy
As long as you are prepared for your beginner backpacking trip, you will be rewarded with nature’s finest outdoor experience. Taking the proper precautions and bring ample equipment will let you enjoy the journey.