Learning from what works and others experiences is always a great way of avoiding having to discover it yourself the hard way. The following are some great backpacking tips and tricks that make things a lot easier.
Great Resources to Read
I started where everyone does, from the beginning. And each time I go out on a trip I learn new things. One of the things that really helped me was I read a lot and asked a lot of experienced backpackers.
Here are some of the best backpacking books and guides I’ve read:
- The Backpacker’s Handbook, 4th Edition
- Simple Foods for the Pack: More than 200 All-Natural, Trail-tested Recipes
- Basic Essentials Backpacking, 3rd (Basic Essentials Series)
- Backpacking: One Step at a Time
Now on to the tips…
On Backpacking Solo
- If you plan on going on a hike or backpacking trip by yourself make sure that you inform at least one person of your plans. Better yet, make a complete itinerary of your trip and the time schedule then give to at least one individual who can help you if something happens. This way they can trace where you are based on how long you’ve been away. If the trail or area you are going to is in cell phone signal range bring a fully charged cell phone and a solar charger so you can contact for help in case something happens.
- To save extra valuable space in your pack, make do without a pillow. Instead, you can roll up some of your clothes and stuff them into your sleeping bag’s sack and use that as your sleeping pillow.
- For better balance, don’t place the heaviest items in the bottom of your backpack. Instead place them closest to your spine. The closer the weight is to your spine the more control and balance you have.
- If you are traveling a trail or area that’s unfamiliar to you. Check your GPS or map at fixed regular intervals. This lets you check where you are and know if you are veering off course. Also, the shorter intervals mean that you won’t be too off your desired path. Fixed timed checks also let you have a good idea how long you’ve been traveling in the wrong directions. This makes it easier to trace backwards.
- Learn to use a compass and read maps. This will let you be able to navigate even if your GPS or cell phone suddenly stop working or get broken.
Tips for Choosing Backpacking Clothing
- Don’t go on a long hike with new boots. Always break in your hiking boots with short hikes. This lets you get used to them. Breaking them in also ‘soften’ them up so they feel more comfortable when it is time for longer hikes. Most importantly, broken in hiking boots are less prone to cause blisters.
- Another backpacking tip to avoid blisters is to use two pairs of socks. This helps prevent blisters from forming. In addition, cotton socks are never a good idea for outdoor activities that require long periods of walking. Bring supplies to take care of blisters just in case.
- Bring a bandana. It is one of the handiest pieces of cloth you have. It covers your head from the heat, can be used as a multipurpose cloth and also to wipe yourself.
- If your boots get wet, getting the moisture out of the little nooks can be done using paper towels or old newspapers. Just stuff them in the boots and leave overnight. They will absorb the extra moisture.
- Choose quick drying, moisture wicking clothing. These pull out sweat and moisture away from your body. On the other hand, never use clothing that’s made from cotton. These absorb moisture and take a long time to dry.
- Bring a whistle. It is a very small item that helps you ward away animals. You can also use it to alert your group should you or a member of your group stray away from the rest.
- If the weather forecast expects a good amount or long period of rain, bring an umbrella. Waterproof jackets and outer gear work well but umbrellas make a big difference in keeping your drier when it rains hard or for longer periods.
- Don’t leave your sleeping bag rolled up all the time. Keeping it rolled up will take away their insulation ability.
- When picking out your sleeping bag of choice, get the synthetic one if cost is a priority. If weight is more important, go with down sleeping bags.
- Never underestimate the help you can get from trekking poles. They take off a lot of extra weight and help you move more easily specially in uneven or incline paths.
On Cooking Gear
- Always carry extra water just in case. In general, a liter of water per member of the group per day. Also, drink small gulps regularly to ward away dehydration.
- When weather makes it difficult to light a fire, a road flare will get the job done quickly and effectively. This can be very helpful during very cold, windy or rain environments.
When Setting Up Camp…
- When picking out your campsite, we always look at the surrounding areas. One place never forget to look is up. Make sure there are no branches that may fall on your tent or even you should the wind decide to blow hard.
- To warm up your sleeping area, put hot water in a bottle and leave it in your sleeping bag for a few minutes before going to bed. This will make the inside warm and toasty when you’re ready to sleep.
Some Hygiene and Personal Care Tips
- Bring a hand sanitizer on your hiking or backpacking trips. These are very small and let you disinfect your hands before eating. This will help prevent you from getting sick during the trip.
- Brushing your teeth is important. But remember that toothpaste is made up of ingredients that attract animals. These include small annoyances like ants, bugs as well as much larger creatures that are dangerous. So always keep your toothpaste capped properly and don’t spit out after brushing in areas that are close to your camp.
- Wear lighter colors to detract mosquitoes. These insects are attracted to dark colors. Also try not to camp in areas where there are standing bodies of water, as mosquitoes tend to congregate in these types of environment.