Backpacking – A Beginner’s Guide



The world we live in is filled with so many wonders, and the tiny person that we are compared to our planet tells us about how much is there to explore and to experience when it comes to off-beaten destinations. Are we really missing out on the essentials of the human experience? What makes us wonder and willing to reach out to the unknown is probably in our DNA. We are curious beings and always in search of inner happiness. Backpacking is surely one of the best ways to explore territories that are out of our comfort zone.

Hauling your backpack around the world and in the midst of the unknown gives you a sense of freedom. For sure backpacking is a way to connect intensely with people, different cultures, and new outdoor settings. Stepping out of your comfort zone might not be easy at the beginning but it eventually rewards you with a sense of gratitude, openness, and self-acceptance.  You learn to plan, stay organized and live in the moment, but you also learn how to develop your instinct.  If you are ready to take this leap of faith then consider some of the important points below, before you start your backpacking trip:

backpacking-beginner's Guide


Things to consider before backpacking:

Research First

Indeed it’s a good idea to choose your preferred destination based on your budget through research work. You can consider reading some blog posts, or join some interesting groups on different social media platforms to connect with fellow backpackers. You can also ask some specific questions on forums where you will likely get some practical answers. Choose the ideal hiking trails if you are planning to venture into the wilderness. This is a good way to appreciate the beauty of nature and tranquillity. If you are about to start your first backpacking trail then it is better to start with a simple one-night or two-day trip until you get comfortable with the experience.

Be aware of the potential ‘threats’ like flash-flood, so you can take the required precautions. It is good to possess a paper map of your preferred location and take your time to study it. Make sure to double-check any listed mileage you find online against a real map before going on a hiking trail.

Backpacking Research


Choosing your backpacking kit:


Choosing the right backpack is a bit tricky. You do not want to end up buying outdoor gear that eventually does not fit in your backpack. This is why it is better to buy your gear first and then buy your backpack the last. When it comes to backpacks there are two types of frame designs notably, the internal and external. Internal frame designs are normally lighter and smaller which is why they work best for most people. You want to choose a frame that will help move the load off your shoulders and onto your hips, thus making it easy to carry. Look for a backpack that has padded hip straps and can be adjusted properly for your torso. You can always head to your local mountain gear store (REI) and seek help.

Backpacking Weight:

It might seem a nuisance to carry a bunch of weight while treading through mountains or rough terrains, which is why it is important to carry minimum items without sacrificing comfort. A general rule of thumb with backpack weight is that you shouldn’t exceed 30% of your body weight. The idea is to make you feel as comfortable as possible so you can speed on the hiking trail. If you are a beginner it is better to take a one-way trip or 10 miles trail distance for your first trip. As you get used to the backpacking experience you can then extend the daily mileage to 15-20 miles a day.

Sleeping Bag:

There is an eclectic range of sleeping bags designed for different environmental conditions. There are sleeping bags for camping, trekking, and expedition or alpine sleeping bags. Camping sleeping bags are designed to meet your comfort and ideal for camping and traveling. The trekking sleeping bags are designed to maintain a high warmth-to-weight ratio. Whilst the expedition sleeping bags are typically expensive since they are made to be lightweight and provide excellent insulation in alpine environments.

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Backpacking Tent:

While buying a backpacking tent it is good to consider the weight of your tent especially if you are going on a hiking trip. You might choose your tent in regard to the environmental conditions you are heading in. If you are going to a hot temperature then ventilation is what you will need to look for. On the other hand, if you are going to a cold environment, then you would want to consider the typical tents which are required for cold temperatures. Last but not least, you should also think about the number of people who will sleep in. Generally, a person needs 2 feet of elbow room at a minimum.

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Backpacking Items

Backpacking Stove

If you wish to take a backpacking stove to boil water, or make coffee then you can choose the canister stoves which are practical and efficient. They are easy to use and carry. However, they do not function that well in extremely cold conditions. You can also opt to go stove-less by taking simple foodstuff like granola bars, nuts, dehydrated fruits, and crackers. For this, you will need to be meticulous in your food planning while bearing in mind the nutritional needs.


One of the crucial items to bring on your backpacking trip is water. It is recommended to drink at least a gallon of water per day while you are on the backpacking trip. You will need to carry 3 liters of water, and in addition, it is wise to have a water purifier along with you. Some of the water purifiers consist of purification tablets (Iodine tablets), ultraviolet purifiers, and pump purifiers.

Flashlight or Headlamp

Whether you choose a flashlight or a headlamp, it is an essential item to include in your backpacking lists. Headlamps are becoming popular due to their practical side as you can use them to work on food or go hands-free at night. While a quality LED flashlight can last for a longer period of time on a single battery load.

First Aid Kit

Even though chances of getting injured on a day hike are rare, it is always wise to equip yourself with a first aid kit. It is equally important to learn how to treat a cut or wrap a sprained ankle in case of unexpected events.

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 Backpacking Food

To avoid any bad experience it is better to plan your backpacking food in advance. Bear in mind that your calorie requirements will be higher since you will spend your energy outdoors. You will need to plan three meals per day including your snacks. For breakfast you can take oatmeal, for lunch you can bring fruits, peanut butter, crackers and include some proteins. For dinner, you can opt for backpacking meals that are light and easy to cook.

 Backpacking Food Item

Backpacking Clothing Items


Just as you would be careful in choosing your backpacking gear, it is equally important to pick the right clothing for your trip. Depending on the place you are heading you’ll need to pack your clothes which will suit the weather conditions. Choose your outerwear carefully since they are the first line of defense against the weather. Some items include a rain jacket, waterproof or breathable pants, hood, and shirt or long-sleeve button-up to keep bugs and sun off your neck and arms. If you are going to colder regions then long undies and sweaters will work best. Also, bring comfortable underwear and socks.

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Another crucial backpacking item you would want to invest in is the boots since they are vital for your performance on the trail and comfort. Choose boots with lighter materials and which are also waterproof. Before buying try a bunch of boots and choose those which go above your ankle. Before going backpacking it is good to wear your boots beforehand so as to avoid blisters. Try wearing them at least a week before your trip.

Backpacking Clothing items

Weather Forecast:

Always check the weather forecast before going on the hiking trail. You can use to learn more about the weather conditions so you can pack properly. It might be challenging for beginners to go on a trail where it might rain or the temperature might drop, hence planning is crucial.


Backpack Responsibly

  • It is recommended to bring a trowel to dig a cat hole (6 inches) in order to bury your excretion in case there is an absence of privy. You should choose an area away from any water sources, campsites, trails, or shelters.
  • Choose to sleep not immediately adjacent to a water source or somewhere more than 100 yards from the trail.
  • Do not forget to pick up your trash or those you find along your way.
  • Kindly give way to a group or hikers heading uphill.


Backpacking Trail


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