Beyond the busy local trail and bustling car campground lies a more immersive experience. Backpacking offers a richer, more rewarding appreciation of the natural world. Carrying life’s essentials on your back will be both liberating and physically challenging.
If you’re ready to give backpacking a try, follow these 3 steps:
- Find an experienced partner
- Choose an easy beginning route
- Gear up
Yesterday we spoke about the importance of finding an experienced partner on your first backpacking trip. Today’s post is all about choosing the right hiking route to start with.
Step Two: Choose An Easy Beginning Route
Where you go backpacking will depend on several factors:
- How much time do you have: you may only have a weekend, but that’s enough for your first outing.
- What is your current fitness level: assess the shape you are in and how much time you have to train before the outing. Also check our article on How to Train yourself for your first backpacking trip.
- Distance: Decide how many miles and hours you’re comfortable hiking in one day, especially while wearing a heavier-than-usual pack. If you’re a beginner, a comfortable trip distance is in the range of three to eight miles round-trip. If you have significant elevation gain, or when you are traveling with kids, you’ll probably want to stick to shorter routes!
- Elevation gain: How much elevation can you handle? If you’re already a hiker, you probably have a good idea of the elevation gain you’ll be comfortable tackling. Just keep in mind that carrying more weight than you’re used to will slow you down. If you have little experience handling elevation gains, you’ll probably want to stick to a relatively flat route to begin with.
- Time of year and weather: If dusk falls early, like in autumn, plan a route or leave early enough to avoid hiking in the dark. Always check the weather forecast and cancel your trip if a storm is moving in.
- Logistics: Decide whether you’ll hike a loop trail, go out and back on the same section of trail or do a point-to-point route. If you’re hiking point-to-point, you’ll need to shuttle cars to your start and end points. You’ll also want to consider driving time to the trailhead and make sure you give yourself enough time to make camp before dark.
Finally, learn about our 5 tips on How to Plan a Backpacking Trip.
In our third and last post of the “Backpacking Tips for Beginners” series we will inform you about how exactly to gear up for your first backpacking trip.
Alyssa Young &