5 Tips for Your First Backpacking Trip
Planning to hit the trail this spring? Don’t be that stereotypical newbie - toiling away under a too-heavy pack, limping from a pesky blister, or fighting with your tent in a gale – by following these easy tips for first-time backpackers!
- Borrow or rent as much gear as possible before you buy
Seasoned backpackers have spent years refining their personal kit. Spend enough time around experienced thru-hikers or ultralighters, and you’ll quickly learn they’ve spent years developing their kit. And no backpacking kit is the same! Backpacking has become enormously popular, helping fuel the multi-billion dollar outdoor industry. It’s great because there’s sure to be something for everyone... but how do you know what’s for you if you’ve never tried it? Don’t blow a paycheck on new gear only to discover you really want a different type of stove or sleeping bag. Borrow as much gear as possible to see what does and what doesn’t work for you.
- Make a packing list - and then erase half of it!
Realizing you’ve packed way (way) too much stuff is something of a rite of passage. Just ask Bill Bryson! Allay some of the embarrassment and pain by making a packing list. Think about every item on that list – how many uses does it have, can I find something lighter, do I really need it or just want it? Erase anything that isn’t a need because you’ll quickly find you don’t want it after a couple miles!
- Invest in a good pair of hiking boots or shoes
Read enough blogs and you’ll find there’s quite the debate between whether it’s better to wear hiking boots or light hiking shoes. There’s value to each argument. Hiking boots provide more stability and protection, both underfoot and on your ankle. Hiking shoes or trail runners are lighter, faster, and typically dry quicker. Again, there is no one right answer; except that whatever you buy should fit! Don’t shop online. Go to an experienced boot or shoe fitter and have them measure your foot, ask you questions about foot pains or previous injuries, and find the best type of footwear for YOU.
- Practice setting up your tent before you hit the trail
There’s nothing, absolutely nothing, more embarrassing than not knowing how to setup your tent. Practice setting it up and taking it down at home a few times. Knowing what you’re doing will save you time when you’re doing it for real and it’s raining, snowing, or blowing!
- Take care of your feet!
Blisters can ruin even the shortest hike – imagine what they can do to a two or three day backpacking trip! Even with a great fitting pair of shoes, blisters can still crop up at the most inconvenient of times. Pack some eNZees Foot Soother into your first aid kit and apply as soon as you start feeling rubbing. Be sure to carry an extra pair of socks as well, so you always have a dry pair to start the day with.