Backpacking is an enjoyable hobby that provides lots of adventure and exercise in the great outdoors. It is a hobby that isn’t expensive and will give you lots of memories. This is a guide on how to backpack in a safe and effective way.
When choosing a backpack, find one that fits the length of your torso. If the backpack is to big or small for you then it will not be comfortable to wear and could throw you off-balance while you are hiking. When the backpack is fully loaded, the weight should be on your hips and not your shoulders. Ideally your hips should be carrying 80% of the backpacks weight. The shoulder straps are mainly to keep the backpack close to you.
Once you have chosen the best backpack for you it is time to fill it with camping supplies. The first thing to put into the backpack should be your sleeping bag and tent. These are things that you wont need until the end of the day and they tend to be some of the heavier items in your backpack.
Next you should put in your food and water since these tend to be the heaviest items in your backpack. Ideally, you want the heaviest items at the bottom of the backpack to reduce the strain on your back. One of the best backpacking practices is to put your food and scented items such as bug spray, sunscreen and other scented items in a bear canister. A bear canister is strong and difficult for bears to open, and is designed to keep bears from getting your food. In some areas it is mandatory to put your food and scented items in a bear canister because of the increased dangers of encountering a bear.
Once you have packed the heavier items you should pack the lighter items that you won’t be using until you set up camp. At the very top of the pack is where you should put the items that you will use throughout the day.
A list of items to take with you when you are backpacking besides food and water include a knife, bandana, compass and map, poncho, fire starting supplies, flashlight, whistle and a first aid kit.
When you decide to start backpacking make sure you get a good pair of hiking boots and make sure they are broke in before starting your adventure. A good pair of hiking boots is one of the most important things that you wear when hiking, they protect your feet and let you enjoy your adventure instead of walking around with aching feet.
With chosing the rest of your hiking cloths, I suggest that you avoid cotton as much as possible. Cotton absorbs moisture and doesn’t retain body heat very well when wet. This means that if your cloths get wet, you will stay wet and cold longer increasing your chances for catching hyperthermia with cotton. Wearing cloths made of wool or fleece will retain body heat better than cotton when wet and will dry out much faster.
Include an extra set of cloths so that you have a dry set in case the cloths that you are wearing gets wet. Keep these cloths in a water proof container so that they stay dry even if your backpack gets wet. If you have enough room left in your backpack you could also include a warmer pair of cloths in case it gets cold.
Once you are ready to start adventure remember to tell somebody where you will be going and when you should be back. Travel with a group for safety and security. If you don’t know basic first aid then learn it, or travel with somebody that does. Finally relax and enjoy your adventure.