Earlier this year we posted a few tips on preparing for your first backpacking trip. However, making the leap from day-hikes to an overnight backpacking trip can be intimidating, so if you haven’t checked that item off your list this summer, don’t worry! Now that Fall is approaching, the weather is prime for an end-of-season backpacking trip. Set aside a weekend and follow these easy tips on planning your first backpacking trip.
Find a buddy
A good hiking partner can help make those learning curves more tolerable and a lot less embarrassing! If you know someone that’s been backpacking before, team up with them. It’s amazing how much you can learn from someone with even a fraction more experience than you. Otherwise, find a buddy who’s up for a good adventure and wants to start backpacking as well. You can also check Facebook or Meetup.com for local hiking and backpacking groups. The Durango Hiking & Backpacking Group frequently has overnight trips in Southwest Colorado.
Get good beta
If you’re not sure where to go, head to a local outdoor gear store or public lands office to ask for advice. Ask about good routes for beginners, good campsites, water sources, and potential hazards. I’ve found that talking to someone with first-hand experience with an area is invaluable.
Your first backpacking trip will be full of learning experiences – good and bad – no matter how long the hike. Start small – say 10 or 15 miles over two days – to work out all those kinks with your gear, food, and logistics. There’s no need to have an epic on your first backpacking trip – just have fun!
Don’t pack more than you need
The tell-tale sign of a newbie is someone with WAY more gear than they could ever possibly use. A lot of first timers pack more clothes, food, and equipment than necessary because they’re not sure what they need. Spend some time at your local gear store talking to the staff. Find out what’s in their pack. Odds are, they aren’t carrying three rain jackets and five-days worth of food for an overnight trip.