Trekking backpack goofs I made when I first starting hiking would make an amusing book to read. If you are under the assumption that you simply pack some stuff in a hiking bag and head out into the wilderness, you’ll end up possibly writing your own not-so-funny stories. Spare yourself the agony of the mistakes I’ve made. Here are tips to give you a better shot at a positive hiking experience.
Backpack Gear – Test It Before You Use It
Trekking backpack hikers, especially beginners, get excited about their early hiking and camping trips. You may invest in new boots, a tent and cooking stove. It’s not a good idea to use your new hiking gear once you’re on the trail. Familiarize yourself by practicing putting up that tent in the backyard. You may end up needing shelter quickly, so that’s not the time to read directions.
Try using your backpack stove to be sure you have the right fuel because you’re better off any functional issues at home. Why not have an overnight in your back yard first, checking all batteries and equipment so you can make changes before you can’t.
Hiking Backpack Weight Should Be Taken Seriously
Trekking backpack weight can make or break your hiking experience if you’re not used to carrying it on your back. Hiking with 20 lbs. for 4 hours is not the same as 25 lbs. for 8 hours. The biggest mistake is taking too much food, gear and clothing you won’t use. If you focus on lightweight in everything you pack, you can scale down your carrying weight significantly.
Hikers, you should shoot for a combined weight of your tent and sleeping bag under 5 lbs. If you omit canned goods and pack foods in ziploc bags instead of store packaging, you can shave off several pounds. If you take more food than what you’ll consume within your camping period, your pack will be heavy. You should, however, add a few extras in case you misjudge your time on the trek or get delayed.
Hiker’s – Don’t Over Pack Clothing In Your Hiking Bag
Hiking backpacks should be packed with clean clothing for every other day, along with an extra pair of socks, pants and a shirt in case you get wet. For longer hikes, pack 2 pairs of spares for the extra days. This is not a suitcase, so you should be conscious of weight. Minimal is best when you have to carry it. If you are hiking near water, you can always take less clothing and rinse things out and then let them dry overnight.
Trekking Gear – Be Sure To Keep Certain Things Dry
Trekking backpack campers, trust me on this one. You will never sleep well in a damp or wet sleeping bag. Rain showers could crop up at any time on your hike, so it’s best to keep your “bed for the night” covered and waterproof. The same goes for a hiking pad while enjoying your campfire. Your clothing and any tech devices should always be protected because damp clothing can cause rashes and you know what water will do to a phone or camera!
When choosing your campsite for the night, avoid valleys because rain water will gravitate toward you and your tent. Always set up camp at least 200 feet from any water source such as rivers, streams or lakes.
Backpack Hikers – Speaking Of Water and Weight…
It is crucial that hikers stay hydrated during the entire trek. Bottled water will weigh you do, so what do you do? Check your maps and topography. If you’ll be hiking near rivers, streams or lakes, you only need to take one 16 oz. bottle of water for every 2 hours you’ll be hiking to that water source. At that point you can refill and use purification drops or tabs for safe drinking water to continue on to the next source of water. Keep in mind if desert or mountain hiking, a water bladder in your backpack will hold 2-3 liters, lasting 4-6 hours only. Plan on drinking 1 liter every 2 hours on your trip.
Hiking Pack Trips – Learn Navigation Before You Head Out
Your trekking backpack should always contain a map and compass. I highly suggest you learn how to read both BEFORE you hike. Imagine stepping off the trail to relieve yourself. When you turn around, the landscape may look different or even the same to your eyes, yet it would appear different. This could get you turned around and easily lost. I don’t think you’d want to risk that, so make yourself familiar with the area map of where you are hiking.
Trail Or Thu Hiking – Make Your Plan And Stick To It
It’s never wise to just “wing it” when you start a hiking trip, even if you are somewhat experienced. Plan your course and approximately where you will stop for snack breaks and meals. Planning of your locale, your food, clothing and water will make for a smoother backpacking trip.
Be aware if you are heading into bear country and the best way to protect yourself. Always carry bear spray and learn how to use it before your trip, but FYI…never spray down your tent with bear spray, it can actually attract rather than repel the bears. Make a checklist of everything before you pack it so that you don’t forget something imperative.
Miscellaneous Tips For Backpacking Trips
Bears are attracted by smell, so it’s wise to invest in a good bear canister for foods and any object that smells. Ladies, stay away from scented shampoos and body lotions while hiking. Bears have a very strong sense of smell and can smell food miles away. Bold colors, like bright yellows and orange are not advised for tents and things left outside overnight in heavily populated bear country, because they are also an attractant to bears.
I learned the hard way never to wear hiking shoes or boots that are not well broken in. Learn what causes hot spots and treat them before they become blisters that will absolutely ruin your hike. Always carry duct tape wrapped around a pen, no need to carry a whole roll for shorter hikes. It’s a great fixer for just about anything, even blisters. Happy hiking!