Backpacking Beginners Guide - Alpine Activity

Backpacking 101: The Perfect Beginners Guide to Get Started

Have you ever wanted to go backpacking? Are you itching for adventure, but don’t know where to start?

Backpacking is a great way to get your feet wet and your adrenaline pumping. It’s also a cheap and easy sport that anyone can enjoy! In this blog post we will cover how to pack, what gear you need, and some tips on backpacking safety. Whether you’re looking for an activity during the summer or winter months, there are plenty of reasons why everyone should backpack at least once in their life.

Backpacking for Beginners – Get Started the Right Way

Backpacking can be a great experience, but it’s important to do some research and preparation before hitting the trail. This beginners guide will help you get started on the right foot.

The first thing you need to consider is what type of backpacking trip you want to take. There are three main types:

Day Hikes: A day hike is just what it sounds like – a hike that can be completed in a single day. These are good options if you’re new to backpacking and want to ease into things. You don’t need as much gear or experience to go on a day hike, and it’s unlikely you will get lost.

Backpacking Trips: A backpacking trip is a multi-day hike with a backpack full of supplies. This type of trip requires more gear and experience than a day hike but offers more adventure and challenge. Backpacking trips can vary in length from just a few miles to hundreds of miles.

Thru-Hiking: Thru-hiking is the ultimate backpacking challenge. It’s a hike that starts at one end of a trail and ends at the other. Thru-hiking can take weeks or months, depending on the length of the trail.

What is Backpacking and Why do People Enjoy It?

Backpacking is a type of travel that involves carrying all of your belongings with you on your back as you hike from one destination to another. It can be an incredibly rewarding experience, giving people a sense of freedom and independence that they can’t get from other types of travel.

Backpacking also provides an opportunity to connect with nature and the environment. People who backpack might go a couple of nights without running water or electricity, making them rely on the natural world for their survival.

Many people enjoy backpacking because they don’t have to deal with big crowds when exploring new places and can often find some very secluded areas in which they can truly get away from it all.

Getting Started with Your First Backpacking Trip

Planning your first backpacking trip can seem like a daunting task. But, with a little bit of planning and preparation, you can have the time of your life! Here are some tips to help get you started:

  1. Decide where you want to go. There are so many amazing places to backpack all over the world. Do some research and find the destination that is best suited for your interests and abilities.
  2. Figure out what type of trip you want to take. Are you looking for an epic adventure through a remote wilderness? Or, would you prefer a more relaxed hike through a beautiful landscape? Knowing what kind of trip you want will help you determine the necessary gear and supplies for your trip.
  3. Figure out how long you want to go, and what type of experience you are looking for. While many backpackers like spending weeks in the wilderness, it is also possible to take a shorter trip.

How do I Plan for a Backpacking Trip?

There is a lot of preparation that goes into backpacking. First, the backpacker must plan every detail from their route to what they will bring on the trip. The following are some general guidelines for planning your first backpacking trip:

  • Start by looking at your monthly income and expenses
  • Make a list of necessary items that you will need to take with you on the trip
  • You can also try to go camping beforehand or do some day hikes if possible so that it makes backpacking feel more natural for you.
  • You should also consider your family and friends that will be joining you on the trip
  • Try to plan a few backpacking trips around one specific area so that you can become familiar with the terrain and also learn about any dangers that may be lurking
  • Make sure to research the area you will be backpacking in beforehand so that you are aware of things like weather patterns, animal danger, etc.

Backpacking is not as difficult as it may seem, especially if you are prepared.

What Type of Food can I Bring on a Backpacking Trip?

The type of food you bring on a backpacking trip depends on how long your adventure will be. If you’re just going for the day, then feel free to pack whatever snacks and drinks that are easy to transport – granola bars, trail mix, water bottles, or juice boxes. However, if it’s an overnight trip where you’ll need to cook your food, you’ll want to bring dehydrated backpacking meals that are lightweight and easy to rehydrate with hot water.

What are the Backpacking Essentials?

While planning a backpacking trip, it is important to list out all the backpacking essentials.

  • Tents/Hammocks- Tents are a little more expensive than Hammocks but provide better shelter from the elements and bugs. A hammock will save you some weight on your backpack as well as give you extra room in it for other essential backpacking gear.
  • Sleeping Bag- A good quality Sleeping Bag is key to a good night’s sleep while camping. Down sleeping bags are the warmest but can be expensive, synthetic sleeping bags are cheaper and will keep you warm in most conditions.
  • Backpack- Backpacks come in all shapes and sizes, make sure to choose one that is comfortable for you.
  • Pack Cover- Pack covers are essential to keep your gear dry and protected from the rain.
  • Stove/Cookware- Stoves are available in propane, alcohol, and canister. Alcohol stoves tend to be the cheapest however they require you to carry fuel around with you for cooking your meals.
  • Water Bottles- Backpacking water bottles come in different sizes usually ranging from 0.75 liters to 3 liters
  • Bear Canister- A bear canister is a container that you store your food in to protect it from bears while camping in bear country.
  • First Aid Kit- A first aid kit is key for any type of trip, not just backpacking trips. Make sure to include supplies like bandages, antibiotic ointment, pain relievers, and more.
  • Other things you may want to consider bringing on your backpacking trip are a map of the area, a headlamp/flashlight, a multi-tool, and sunglasses. Make sure to do your research before heading out on your trip and pack accordingly.

*It is also a good idea to include an emergency blanket. This can be carried in the smallest pocket of any pack.

Hit the Gym Before the Trail

One of the best ways to prepare for a backpacking trip is to hit the gym. You don’t need to be in peak physical condition, but doing some basic strength and cardio exercises will help you cover more ground on your hike and make it less taxing. If you can manage to get in shape before your trip, you’ll be able to enjoy the hike more and maybe even cover more ground.

Backpacking Safety Tips

If you’re a beginner, then it will be best for you to start with day trips until you get more comfortable. If this is your first time backpacking alone, then it is most important that you know how to stay safe while on the trail. Here are some safety tips:

  • Always tell someone where and when you plan to return from your hike
  • Make sure you are familiar with the area and trails before heading out
  • Bring a map and compass, and know how to use them
  • Pack plenty of food and water; also pack extra snacks in case of emergency
  • Dress appropriately for the weather – layers work best
  • Wear sturdy shoes

Don’t go for too many Miles on your First Trip

If you are just starting, it’s best not to pack for too many miles. It can be easy to overestimate how fast you will move on the trail and underestimate the time needed to set up camp at night.

You want to make sure that if something goes wrong (ie: injury) then you have plenty of time and energy to take care of it without pushing yourself too hard.

Start with a shorter trip, even if that means hiking a smaller distance each day. As you gain more experience, you can add on miles and lengthen your trips.

Remember, safety first!

Consider Your Fuel

It is key in backpacking to consider the weight of what you are packing. When selecting food, think about both the weight and caloric value. You will want to bring a variety of foods that will give you enough energy for your trip.

You also need to consider your water intake. Backpacking can be physically demanding and you will need to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

Not Understanding Basic Backpacking Navigational Skills

As a beginner, it is important to learn how to navigate your way around the backcountry. This means learning how to use a map and compass, as well as orienteering skills. Many people have gotten lost or stranded in the wilderness because they did not understand these basic navigational skills.

It is also important to be familiar with your surroundings before venturing out into the backcountry. Know what kind of terrain you will be hiking on, what kind of plants and wildlife are in the area, and what the weather is like. This way, you can be better prepared for any potential dangers or challenges that may arise.

One of the best ways to learn about backpacking navigation skills is to take a course from an experienced instructor. Many helpful online resources can teach you the basics. Once you have learned the skills, be sure to practice them regularly so that they become second nature.

In addition to navigation skills, it is also important to be familiar with survival techniques. This way, if something does go wrong while backpacking, you will know how to get through it. Some basic survival skills include building a fire, creating shelter, and finding food and water.

It is important to remember that backpacking can be dangerous if you are not properly prepared. So make sure to learn the basics before heading out on your first trip. With a little bit of preparation, you can safely enjoy all that backpacking has to offer.

Packing Way Too Much Gear

There is nothing worse than looking at your packed backpack and realizing you have way too much gear. Backpackers typically find themselves packing more than they need to on their first trip.

No matter what time of the year you go, it is important to pack as light as possible. You can always make up for not having something by buying it at the store or borrowing from a friend.


##Always Test Gear first Before Heading out on the Trail.

Your gear should be tried and tested before heading out on the trail. You don’t want to find out your camping stove doesn’t work or you only brought one pair of jeans when you’re already three days into a five-day backpacking trip – it will not end well! To avoid this, make sure that any new items purchased for your trip are tested at home first.

Where can you go Backpacking?

There are endless possibilities when it comes to choosing a destination for your backpacking trip. You can explore National Parks, wander through small villages in Europe, or backpack through the dense rainforest of South America. The options are limitless! Consider your interests and what type of terrain you would like to hike before settling on a location.

Some of our favorite backpacking destinations include the Rocky Mountains in North America, the glaciers and peaks of Patagonia in South America, and the temples and jungles of Southeast Asia. No matter where you go, make sure to do your research ahead of time to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.

When should I backpack?

There is no wrong time to backpack! Different seasons offer different opportunities and experiences, so it’s important to choose a time that best suits your interests. Generally, the best times of year for backpacking are spring and fall when the weather is milder, but you can backpack all year round if you’re prepared for the conditions.

Summer is a popular time for backpacking, but it can be quite hot and humid in some areas. If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, consider heading out on a trip during the off-season.

Tips on How to Stay Safe While Camping Overnight in the Wilderness

Camping overnight in the wild can be an amazing experience. However, there are ways to keep safe while you do so. Follow these tips on how to stay safe when camping outdoors:

  • Once it gets dark outside, avoid any solo hikes or walks around your campsite. It is important that if something were to happen during the night, you would have someone there to help you.
  • Make sure that your campsite is well lit. This will help deter any animals or people from coming near your site.
  • Always store food in a bear canister or hung up high in a tree. Do not leave food out in the open where it could be easily accessed by wildlife.
  • Bring a first aid kit with you and know how to use it. If you are injured or become ill while camping, you will be able to treat yourself until help arrives.
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you plan on returning. This way, if something does happen to you while camping, people will know where to begin looking.
  • Keep your cell phone with you and charge it at all times. This way, if something happens or you need help, then you will be able to call for help.

Common Mistakes Made by Beginners when Planning their first Backpack Trip

  • Not researching the route and difficulty level before planning their trip
  • Not packing enough food or water for the trip
  • Not bringing enough clothes or gear for the weather conditions
  • Overpacking can lead to a heavy backpack and tired muscles
  • Not bringing their backpack on a test run before the trip
  • Selecting a poor spot to set up camp at night, which could be in an area with too much wildlife or insects
  • Packing food that is not well protected from animals and bugs during transport day(s).
  • Wearing boots that are not broken in or that are the wrong size, which can lead to blisters and sore feet
  • Not bringing a first aid kit with them on their trip
  • Not being familiar with Leave No Trace principles.

To avoid making any of these common mistakes, backpackers should do their research before heading out on their trip. Familiarize yourself with the route you will be taking, pack appropriately for the weather conditions, and test out your gear before hitting the trail. In addition, always follow Leave No Trace principles to minimize your impact on the environment. By doing so, you can ensure you have a safe, enjoyable trip in the wilderness.

Disregarding Leave No Trace Principles

This is not only dangerous but could result in fines.

  • Be sure to always pack out your trash after a trip – don’t bury it or leave it behind!
  • Camping in prohibited areas can also lead to fines
  • Leave what you find! Don’t take rocks, plants, or anything else from the natural environment with you. Take only photographs, leave only footprints.

If you’re just getting started, backpacking can seem like a daunting activity, but it’s not that complicated. In fact, with the right planning and preparation, even first-time backpackers can enjoy a successful trip.

Whether you’re looking for a short backpacking trip or planning an extended, multi-month journey on the Appalachian Trail, we hope that this blog post has given you some helpful information.


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