Backpacking may be one of the best ways to get as close to nature as possible. It requires you to be completely self-sufficient, carrying everything that you need with you on your back. However, that level of competence doesn't happen spontaneously. Instead, it requires planning and preparation beforehand.
Your first backpacking trip can be a challenge because, until you have the experience, you may not know what you don't know. The following tips can help you make the preparations necessary for your first excursion to be a success.
1. Gather All the Necessary Supplies
You should make sure that you have everything you need for your trip ahead of time, from the relatively large items, such as the tent and sleeping bag, to the relatively small items, such as the medicated lip balm. Not only should you have all these things before you set out, but you should practice packing them in a backpack and carrying them around. To this end, you might want to start out with a few day trips before attempting a longer hike or an overnight excursion. These will help you learn what you need.
2. Get Your Body Physically Ready
Hiking through difficult terrain with a heavy pack on your back can be a significant physical challenge. You need to be sure that you're ready for it before you actually get out on the trail. You should adopt a training program in which you increase the weight by small increments until you think you can handle it and learn how to maintain your stability while traveling both up and downhill. Listen to your body, and if you start experiencing physical pain beyond the expected soreness, give yourself a rest and make a modification to your training program.
3. Use the Buddy System
You might not want to make your first major backpacking trip alone. It may be better to team up with experienced backpackers who can answer your questions and help you as you learn this new skill. Not only that, but most activities such as backpacking are more fun when shared. Even if you don't already have friends who backpack, maybe you know people who, like you, are interested in trying it. Teaming up with these people could be the next best thing because even if you cannot bring experience to bear in solving problems and answering questions, two or more people are usually more effective at working out a solution than one person alone.
4. Provide Information About Your Trip
Maybe it is not possible for you to share your trip with other backpackers, or maybe you just really have your heart set on a solo hike. At the very least, for safety's sake, you should provide someone you trust with your plans in detail, including where you plan to go and when you will be back. You never know what might happen out in the wild. Should you run into trouble, it will be easier to rescue you if someone can inform the proper authorities of your approximate location.
5. Leave No Trace
Your backpacking trip should be a positive experience and not have a negative effect on the environment. For a brief time, you will essentially be living out in the wilderness during your trip, which means more opportunities to affect the environment negatively. However, there are seven Leave No Trace Principles that you can learn and practice on your backpacking trip. You can find these online and take them to heart prior to your departure.
6. Keep Hydrated
Dehydration can make you sick, and while that can be dangerous in any situation, it is especially hazardous when you are out in the wilderness. If there are no water sources along the route you have chosen, then you will have to bring enough water to last the duration of your trip. If there are water sources, you need to bring along a filter of some kind to make sure the water is safe to drink.
Backpacking is not something you should just rush into, especially if it is your first trip. Take some time to be sure that you are ready for anything before setting out.
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