Learn more about outdoor recreational opportunities within the central PA area with Shane Jones.
Backpacking is a great experience for anyone who loves the outdoors and wants to immerse themselves in nature. However, there is much planning and preparation that goes into a trip of this nature. If you are a beginner backpacker, the following checklist will guide you through the basics of a backpacking trip.
1. Who are you going with?
As a first-time backpacker, it’s a good idea to travel with a companion, especially one who has been on backpacking trips before, and one who enjoys the outdoors. Traveling with a friend can also ease nervousness and be ultimately more safe and fun!
There are a lot of companies that have started groups and organizations with fellow employees to encourage team unity as well as connect people with others who share the same interest in backpacking! My cousin works for Warren CAT, a construction company in Lubbock, Texas, that meets to travel the Palo Duro Canyon State Park together. Another friend at Mr. Rooter Greater Syracuse meets monthly to travel to the Finger Lakes. I encourage creating groups where you may be shocked to find similar people in the company share interests! Try creating a Meetup to find those like-minded individuals.
2. Where are you going?
After you’ve found a travel-buddy, it’s time to choose your destination. If you don’t already have a spot in mind, do a little research.
Travel guidebooks are packed with info about particular places and can provide great tips. Backpacking and hiking websites with forums can show information on more places and topics than an individual book. They can also have more updated information as well as opinions from a variety of people. However, don’t let a crabby backpacker’s online rant change your vacation plans.
Once you decide your location it’s time to start thinking logistics. The distance of your hike can determine the duration of your adventure. For first-timers 1-2 nights with a 10-15 mile hike round-trip is a good place to start. Check out MapMyHike as an awesome resource for planning these hikes!
When backpacking in nature, bring only the essentials. Think lightweight, dual-purpose gear. Suggestions include:
Things to know when packing clothing:
4. The Big Stuff
Don’t forget about a backpack, tent, sleeping bag and pads. All can be purchased online or at a local outdoor store like REI or EMS. However, if you can’t afford to buy the big ticket items, think about borrowing from a friend or renting from a store.
As you’ll be off the grid, cell phone communication may not be possible. Alternative options include:
Make sure you’re physically prepared for your trip. Do a practice hike in your boots or go for training runs.
2. Get to know your gear
Practice setting up your tent and base camp so there will be no surprises on your trip.
3. Call ahead
Contact local ranger stations or park headquarters before your trip to get all of your questions answered beforehand.
4. Tell someone
Make sure someone at home knows your travel plans before you leave. You don’t want your trip to be a sequel to 127 hours.
5. What to expect, and how to show respect