Going on your first backpacking trip can be exciting a little bit nerve-wracking if you lack experience. There are many considerations to keep in mind, such as bringing the right backcountry gear, picking the right location to make camp, and planning for food and water. 

Picking A Location

The first thing to consider when planning your first backpacking trip is where you will go. There are likely many options to find a backcountry backpacking location near you. These can be located in state parks, national forests, and national parks. When picking a location, there are few things that you should keep in mind and plan for, such as:

  • Is there a water source near where I will be backpacking?
  • How long of a hike is it to my ideal camping spot?
  • What will the weather be like during my trip?
  • Are there any predators that I need to be aware of?
  • Do I have all of the gear I need?
  • Have I told a friend or family member where I am going in case of emergency?

Necessary Gear

Backpacking is similar to camping, but there are differences in the gear considerations that you will need to make. You will want to make sure you have all of the gear you need, but that it will be as lightweight as possible since you will be carrying everything in your backpack and the extra weight will get cumbersome on long treks. Here is a look at the gear you should consider bringing for you first backpacking trip:

  • Backpack that is comfortable fits all of your gear
  • Water filter and bottles
  • Tent
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Different layers of clothing that are weather appropriate
  • Food
  • Dishes and Utensils
  • Camp Stove
  • Flashlight
  • First Aid Kit
  • Bug Spray

Food Planning

Planning your food is an important step to a successful backpacking trip. You want to make sure you have all of the food you need, but not too much as it adds significant weight to your pack. Also, you need to make sure that you have all the utensils you need to prepare your food properly. Another thing to remember is to pack non-perishable foods as you won’t have access to a cooler or refrigerator. Typically, you will want to avoid packing canned good due to the weight. Some great ideas for backpacking food include: ramen, shells & cheese, rice, packets of tuna, jerky, packets of cooked chicken, beans, and dehydrated backpacking meals.

Choosing A Campsite

Choosing the right campsite will help you truly enjoy your backcountry backpacking experience. You need to consider whether the forest you are in has designated camping areas or if you are allowed to find your own. If they are designated, simply choose the one that is the most appealing to you. If you are allowed to choose your own campsite, you will want to pick one that is a short hike away from a water source if possible. Also, you want to make sure your campsite is hidden away so that random people on the trails can’t see you. This makes the experience better for both you and others in the forest. Another consideration is the ground cover – make sure you aren’t setting up camp in poison ivy and that the ground will be able to secure your tent stakes properly. Finally, it is important to find a site that will allow for a nice campfire without the risk of catching anything else on fire (if campfires are legal at your location). It’s always nice to have a variety of dead, downed wood for campfires. As you can see, there are some key things to take into consideration when choosing the perfect campsite for your backpacking trip. 

Final Thoughts

Backpacking is a truly rewarding experience and a great way to escape the interruptions of daily life. There is nothing quite like the quiet of the forest to help you hit the reset button. With the proper plan in place, you can make your first backpacking trip a successful, stress free experience. We hope this guide helps you to firm up plans for your first backpacking experience. The benefits of getting out in the fresh air of nature are immense and you will come back to the real world feeling more refreshed and confident.

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