Backpacking Tips (part one)

Now that spring has sprung, it will be soon time to get your gear together for your first backpacking trip of the year or for some, first backpacking trip ever. There is nothing in the world that compares with being away from civilization. After all, deep in the outdoors is where nature can be understood in its truest form. The outdoors also allows us to have an understanding of our own selves.

Tip #1: Fitness Level

 You have to make sure you are physically fit to be backpacking into the wilderness with 40-50 plus pounds on your back.  The trip is not going to be fun if you are not ready for the work, you can really end up getting hurt, and getting help or just getting out will be very difficult.  

Some ideas in helping you prepare is to just walk around your neighborhood.  To prepare, you can start going on day hikes wearing your gear on your back. Take the small steps and within a short time, you will be ready for that long backpacking trip you are dreaming of.

Tip#2: Buy a Map

Even if you think you know the area well, you should still have an updated map of the complete area in which you will be hiking. Changes are always happening and what might have been public land one year could be something different the next year. Using a topographic map is an essential part of being in the outdoors. Maps will show you other trails, roads, landmarks and so forth that can help you if you lose your trail, get separated from your group, or get hurt. Make sure you have that map!

Tip#3: GPS and a Compass

I love my GPS and for me personally this is number one on my own list. A good GPS with the proper maps on it can tell you so much. You can learn how far you hike each day, your altitude, your speed, and some GPS can even tell you if a storm is coming with a barometer. Weather changes fast in the mountains and a barometer can be a very useful tool.

A compass is a necessity no matter what. Even if you have a GPS with extra batteries you cannot rely on electronics completely and you should be ready with a compass and know how to use if when that time comes.

 Backpacking for multiple days or just going on a day hikes allows us rejuvenate our minds and our bodies. To be able to self-reflect and think of where we are in our lives. It is a time that allows us to be clear from distractions and just be. 

Tip#4: Dress in Thin Layers

Understand the climate of the area that you are hiking. If your hiking trail often gets sudden rainstorms or gets extra cold in the morning and evening you need to be prepared.  Dressing in thin layers (even in colder temperatures), is better than a couple of thick layers. Thin layers tend to be much more effective in keeping the warm air inside and outside air away. The first layer is a core layer, like an under armour or other base layer material. A second layer will be more loose possibly something like a turtleneck or zippered polo neck that covers the neck and arms. If necessary a third layer like a fleece jacket or hoodie.

As we plan our backpacking trips or even day hikes we need to make sure, we are prepared physically and that we have adequate gear.

My next article will include more backpacking tips on backpacks and  gear that is essential in backpacking safely.