I was backpacking a few times before I started to understand what I was doing and what was wrong. The lesson was hard. I didn’t drink enough water on a hot day and collapsed with the pain of dehydration headache. Put on the wrong socks and rub your heels raw with blood. Eat a lyophilized pack of beef stroganoff and almost throw it.etc

Fortunately, pain is a good teacher, and so is my best friend Sam. Over the past year, Sam and I have traveled to the backcountry of Santa Barbara several times when COVID Cabin Fever made the most of us. Not too far away, but enough to make your cell phone, chores and news feel like a distant memory. He gave some of his lifelong outdoor wisdom, and I chose my own tips and tricks.

So if the need in nature is so realistic and you’re looking for more adventure and loneliness than a car camp can offer-but you’re a relatively new backpacker like me-here I have some advice. This is not a comprehensive list of what to do and what not to do, but it should save you from learning some things in difficult ways.

Don’t break the bank

You may want to go straight to REI and load all the great looking gadgets and gear you can get into your cart. However, doing so will immediately bring up a tab that allows you to rethink the entire enterprise. Instead, do a little online research to find a bargain. Big5 may even have what you need.

For example, I went back to REI and spent $ 280 on the finest Osprey. And don’t get me wrong. That is wonderful. I love it. But if Sam did what he did and took the time to consider his options, he could have saved serious fabrics. He recently replaced the old pack with one from Granite Gear. “This is the most thoughtfully designed, comfortable and lightweight pack I’ve ever owned, sold for a total of $ 160 and shipped to the door,” he said. “I can’t fully recommend it.”

The same rule of thumb applies to almost all high-priced backpacking items such as tents, sleeping bags, and utensils. Check out the blog. Read the review. And don’t forget to think about what you and your family may already own. I’m using a 1990’s Therm-a-Rest sleeping pad dug out of my dad’s garage. It’s a bit bulky and probably not as comfortable as some new models, but it gets the job done.

Choose your route wisely

The first step is easy. Buy these two backcountry guides by Cartographer and Managing Director of the Los Padres Association, Brian Conant- San Rafael WildernessWhen The wilderness of Matilia and Dick Smith..They are absolutely essential and you can get both bryanconant.com..

Next, consider the time and distance of the trail that you can actually handle. I will stay for 1-2 nights in the first place. Consider mileage, but equally important is the increase in altitude. It really gets you, especially when you’re fisting around a 30-pound pack.

Here are the three most recently completed round-trip trips, from the easiest to the most difficult. Sam chose wisely based on their accessibility, beauty, and the Slowpoke he was with. (1) Lower Manzana Trail, Cold Water Camp, 5.6 miles. (2) Forbush Trail, Blue Canyon Camp, 9.8 miles from the Cold Spring Trail. (3) Upper Manzana Trail, Manzana Narrows Camp, 13.6 miles.

There are countless other routes and sites to choose from, each unique and attractive in its own way. That’s the fun of it.

Bring real food

Remember that you spend 48-72 hours in Santa Barbara County and haven’t trekked the Himalayas for a month. This means you can afford to bring a little heavier fresh food and pay the fare to add water that tastes like salted plastic, without resorting to space travel. I promise, it will make a supper when you are tired and a thousand times more enjoyable.

The last time-out was a sausage / couscous / bok choy mix based on what was already in each fridge. It might be a weird combo, but it was great. And as they say, hunger is the best seasoning. Along the way, we had a light meal with apples and trail mix, and had a salami and gouda lunch at Trader Joe’s Ciabatta Roll. Much better than Clif Bar.

Consider fire and water

Always check your fire limits. Due to hot and dry weather, forestry agencies often ban open flames, campfires, or charcoal fires in the backcountry. In fact, it’s now because Santa Barbara has been hit by yet another drought and the fuel is low in water.visit fs.usda.gov For updates. Small backpacking stoves can still be used, but with permission.Get at readyforwildfire.org..

Another important factor is water. Before you leave, you need to know if there is water on the route. Please contact your nearest Los Padres Ranger Station for the latest reports. If a river or stream is flowing, invest in a suitable water purifier and strategically think about when and where to refill it, not only to avoid shortages, but also to carry unnecessary extra weight. increase. If not, you will need to do all the hydration and plan accordingly.

Other essentials

As I said, foot care is the best. Get good boots. Please spend a little extra if necessary. And make sure you get the right socks for you. I found it a bit delicate in this department and needed a double layer style to prevent blisters. Wrightsock is a good brand. It’s definitely worth it, as nothing is as dire as a painful hike.

According to Sam, other necessities are pocket knives, basic first aid kits, bandanas, headlamps, and big lighters. Also, hats and sunglasses. Other than that, enjoy freeing yourself from the traps of modern life.

And have fun.

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