Johnny took his first backpacking trip. He was an amateur hiker. In this particular hike, he had travelled a long way, hiking over mountains and through some of the roughest terrain known to man. It was a grueling task, one that required stamina, patience, and endurance. After all that way, all that work, and all that effort, surely our hero Johnny deserves a good, long rest. A good night’s sleep, safe from the dangers of wildlife is just what the doctor ordered. The place was pitch black, the night young and quiet. All he needed was the comfort of the big, comfy tent………………………… which was missing! Apparently, amidst all the excitement, he had forgotten to pack it in. Basically, it was going to be a long night.
Moral of the story? Don’t be like Johnny. Backpacking and/or camping requires thorough preparation, physical capabilities and adequate equipment to do so successfully, and without harm. Failing to do so could at best lead to minor inconvenience, at worst……….
Let’s not go there. Instead, let’s talk about how you, our beginner backpacker, can avoid doing as Johnny, and go have a great experience on your first, or early, backpacking experience. We have previously published a post focusing Tips of your first trip.
Preparations For Backpacking Trip
First and foremost, you have to take various preparations before the hike itself. There are several things to consider when preparing, including navigation, travel time, distance and security. Here is a list of things that will be absolutely necessary. Also, depending on whether you are going to a beach or a hike, camping or a backpack, stuff will change.
MAP and GUIDEBOOK
This one is a no-brainer. The map is the best way to navigate across the hike. It will show you the way, help you plan your route and indicate the direction of the nearest town if something bad happens. In today’s world, many people use smartphone map apps, which could be a more portable, water-proof option over bulkier, paper maps.
The guidebook will give information that will help alongside the map in deciding how to plan the travel, such as easier ways to go, shortcuts that may be harder to pass through versus longer, easier routes, and so on. It will also give details on campsites that are popular, frequented backpacking routes and rules specific to a particular trail.
There are two basic questions to answer when deciding what to take.
- Do I absolutely, positively, most definitely need it?
- If I don’t need it, will it make my journey any easier?
If either of the answers or both, is a no, then you don’t have to take it with you. Even though it is understandable if you want to bring certain familiar items from home, carrying as little as possible will make it easier to travel, organize and pack/unpack. Basically, anything that does not help with traveling, food, organizing, or disposing of waste can be left back home.
Arguably the most important on the list, taking the right type of food is essential in having an easy travel. Obviously, it is impossible to cook extravagant, fulfilling meals on a campfire. It is also impossible to carry very many items to cook (and cook with!) on your travels.
The best approach to food is having ones that are simple and easily cooked and cleaned. The easiest choice is having meals that need boiling water, such as instant noodles. All you do is add boiling water to it, and soon enough you have edible noodles. If that isn’t good enough, most one-pot meals such as ramen noodles or angel hair pasta is a good alternative, since they require very little work to be put in. Lastly, if you are willing to put
in the work and time, take food that can be easily cooked over a campfire. Marinated chicken can be grilled over a fire, and so can vegetables like tinned mushrooms.
Finally, you will need to learn some basic skills before you set out. Whether you plan on going alone or with somebody, you need to learn how to pitch a tent. Nehru Institute of Mountaineering offers an Adventure Course which will teach you basics for you adventure trip. While this may seem simple, trust us when we say, PRACTICE! Practice, so that you can do it fast. This will save plenty of time for doing other things and also save you from potential embarrassment!
Another handy skill to have is knowing how to light a campfire from items found in nature. We are sure most people have seen it done on Nat Geo or Discovery, but it is hardly as easy as they make it seem. This is why it is important to learn this as well. Most people will likely carry a lighter, but in the event that it goes missing, this skill will help loads. Better safe than sorry!
One last skill that needs a shout-out is, well, one that most people would not want to shout out. Dealing with nature’s call in the middle of nowhere, what a terrific thought! Sadly, you must learn how to answer it while in nature’s territory, without a single toilet in sight.
Never thought you would miss those seats now, did you?
Now that you are set, let’s look at some practical advice when you are on the road itself.
STAY ON ESTABLISHED CAMPSITES
Any good camper will tell you that established campsites have the advantage of being easy to locate, and containing certain amenities such as bear-proof storage, which makes it easier to keep food. There are also certain places where setting up camp is more convenient, and where fresh water is within reach.
They are also more likely to have other people setting up camp nearby. Having people nearby, especially campers with more hands-on experience, will help you learn and get assistance from them. It also provides mental comfort, having other people to socialize with. It also helps keep away wild animals, because they tend to steer clear of areas where more people are located.
DELAY TRIP DURING BAD WEATHER
During the wetter seasons, it is best not to go camping. Rain not only adds more pressure on an already difficult experience, but it also takes out the fun. Make sure you schedule your trip in a manner where the weather is dry during the entire trip. If rain is forecasted, it wouldn’t hurt delaying by a week. Why get wet in the middle of nowhere, while going long distances and carrying a heavyweight?
WEAR LIGHT CLOTHES DURING BACKPACKING TRIPS
Having lighter clothing helps to move faster. Wear something comfortable, helps absorb sweat and also protects from the wear and tear of nature.
CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELF
Always clean up whatever mess you make on the go. It is the right thing to do (you know it!) but it also makes it your campsite less prone to being discovered by wild animals.
Take our word for it. Be prepared, be smart, and be careful. The fun and excitement will come as long as you stay safe and sound.