Backpacking is an amazing blend of hiking, camping and adventure. It lets you broaden your thoughts beyond your everyday life and it really puts you in the thick of the outdoors. More and more people are taking up backpacking and exploring what's on their own doorstep and beyond.
So if you’re looking to get into backpacking but you’re not too sure what the best first steps to take are… well that’s what this blog is all about! So let’s get straight to it and talk about backpacking tips for beginners!
Choose An Easy Destination
On your first backpacking trip you should consider maybe going somewhere local or maybe a popular backpacking spot that isn’t too far a drive. That way if you get into a spot of bother hopefully you will see another fellow backpacker and they might be able to help you out. Go online to chat rooms, forums, even Reddit, and ‘pick the brains’ of fellow backpackers. They can help you choose the right place to go on your first backpacking adventure.
Once you have a spot in mind make sure that you find out where the closest water supply is and how easy it is to gain access to it! Maybe consider camping in a popular or well known camping spot at first, just to be on the safe side. And lastly when picking a destination for the first time during the summer period, again more people will be about to help you if you get into a bit of a pickle.
Gear And Clothing
Once you have found the perfect spot you need to think about what gear you want to take with you. It takes years to master what you truly need to take but at first you’ll need these key essentials: a backpack which is no bigger than 65 litres. A two-person tent, even if you are camping by yourself, having a bit more room for sleeping and storage is always a plus! You will of course need a sleeping bag and mat, and a stove to cook your food and make that all important morning coffee! Don’t forget your water bottle and a water filter system too, and finally you’ll need the 3 P’s...pots, pans and plates!
When it comes to clothing you should always have the ‘three layer system’ in your mind, so a wicked base layer (merino wool) is always a good shout, a mid layer like a 100 or 200 weight fleece and a waterproof jacket… even in the summertime, just in case the heavens decide to open! When it comes to boots or shoes… always wear boots even if the terrain you're walking on is fairly flat. Wearing boots will give you all the support you need whilst backpacking. That being said if you have a favourite pair of trainers, bring them too...once you have set up camp up for the night it’s nice to take your boots off and pop on a pair of comfy trainers!
Plan Your Food
Depending on how long your first trip will be, will determine how much food you will need to bring. If you want to keep things light and simple then you can’t go wrong with dehydrated foods. You can get all sorts of flavours/meals now and they don’t take that long to cook. When hiking, think about energy bars or maybe just some nuts and berries as they won’t take up too much space in your pack and they will give you all the energy you need...a good little boost!
When it comes to brekkie try to go all out if you can! Porridge is a good shout, but maybe you could bring some pancakes and heat them up and whack on some maple syrup...yum! And you’ll be set for the day! Also don’t forget coffee and tea are a must for a morning too! Start the day off the right way!
Time To Get Ready
So you know where you’re going, you know what you are taking and you know what you will be eating. Now's the time to look into the nitty-gritty parts. Firstly you need to take a look at your fitness level; maybe before you go on your adventure go hike some local trails, maybe do a bit of running or cycling, and go for a hike with your pack on and see how it all feels. Play with the gear before you head out too. That way if you run into any problems with your gear you can figure out what went wrong and nip it in the bud there and then.
You should always leave your plan with a family member or friend and say that you will call them if you can, at certain times so they know that you're ok. That way if you don’t check in or you go missing they can relay that information to the police and they will be able to find you sooner. And lastly pack your bag a day before your adventure, don’t pack it the night before.
Leave No Trace
When it comes to backpacking the ‘leave no trace’ principle should always be in the back of your mind. There are seven points to ‘leave no trace’ that you need to think about. First is, plan ahead and prepare. Then travel and camp on durable grounds, dispose of water properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts, respect the wildlife, and lastly, be considerate to fellow backpackers and hikers. There is a lot to the ‘leave no trace’ principle but maybe we can go into depth about that another time in another blog to give you adventurers a bit more insight into it!
There is a saying here in the UK, ‘take nothing but memories and leave nothing but footprints’. When backpacking you want to make sure that you leave as little an impact on the areas that you’re hiking or camping on as you possibly can!
So there we have it! Just some tips for any fellow adventurers out there who want to start up backpacking! What tricks and tips do you have? Please share with us in the comments and help inspire beginner backpackers to get out there and explore for themselves!
Author: Shaun Johnson
Edited by: Gemma Johnson