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Each year, about 4,000 backpackers attempt through hikes on the country’s three major sidewalks. Appalachian Mountains, Pacific CrestWhen Continental divide Trail. Each is a major initiative, with gear billing of thousands of dollars, up to six months away from work.

But backpacking doesn’t have to be a waste of months in your bank account. For many, the real attraction of backpacking is the quiet remoteness it brings, the opportunity to experience true loneliness away from the rat race. With a little planning and creative preparation, even if this is your first night stay, you can easily have time in your life there.

safety first

Backpacking is not only great, but it also carries certain risks. It is your job to take some basic precautions and minimize them.

  • Suppose you don’t receive your cell phone for at least part of your hike. So if you get lost (and even the best hikers), it’s up to you to find yourself. Make sure your emergency contacts always know your intended itinerary, the car you drive, and the people who go with you when you plan to return.
  • Invest in a decent compass, Topographic map Know how to use both, and your hiking destination.Many major gear outfitters and regional chapters Orienteering USA We offer map and compass courses for new users, usually under $ 100.If you can’t reach any of these places, then the Appalachian Mountains Club Introduction to navigation Or this video from REI.

  • If you have enough cash, Personal locator beacon (Usually hundreds of dollars). This allows you to send accurate location and emergency distress signals when your cell phone is not receiving.
  • And be sure to study This guide From the US Forest Office Services on what to do if you get lost or have trouble: Packed with great tips on how to put it together when everything else fails.

Keep it simple

On the trail

State and national parks are great places for beginners. Trails are usually well marked and the website offers user-friendly guidelines from beginners to experienced hikers. For your first trip Warren DoyleDirector of the Appalachian Trail Institute, Having educated hikers for over 45 years, he recommends staying close to home and limiting your first outing to easy-to-access and easy-to-understand trails. Look for short mileage and unobtrusive routes, such as steep elevations, rocks, loose rocks, and even tricky scaffolding such as those found in rat root nests. “Keep your expectations modest,” Doyle advises. “This isn’t about completing mileage. It’s about simplicity and the willingness to move away from the cradle of society. You can do it in 5 miles as easily as 500 miles.” site AllTrails When Trail finder It provides a database that can be searched by zip code or geography, and local trail reserves are also an excellent resource.

Find a campsite

“Don’t be afraid to set up your camp just a few miles after the first day, especially if you’re already tired,” says Doyle. Also, consider using this camp as a base for your weekend adventures. For weekend hikes, this can mean hiking on Friday night to establish a base camp. This allows you to do a day hike in a much smaller pack on Saturday and return to your tent and sleeping bag that night.There is no harm in using the hostel hut system in places like High Sierra Camp California or White mountain hat In New Hampshire. However, if you want a complete backpacking experience, look for a loop with a designated camp area or an established shelter (often with a water source nearby).

Before buying

Jennifer Far DavisAuthor of Pursuit of durability, Hiking record holders in Asheville, NC, and owners of the Blue Ridge Hiking Company are advised to use hiking equipment for rent before investing in their products. “Without a standard frame, it’s hard to know what you need,” she says. “Borrow or Rental gearYou can decide what you like, what you like, what you dislike, and what you can’t stand a particular product. REI rents gear including: With a backpack It ’s a camping stove, Please check with your local store For a complete list of available gear.Or start up for $ 92 a day You will receive an email from Camp Crate Complete setupIncludes sleeping bags, tents, water purifiers and headlamps.


When you’re ready to invest in your own gear, you need to decide where and how to hike on a regular basis. Different climates and different travel lengths have different gears. Backpack They come in a variety of sizes, most measured in liters. You can probably escape with a backpack in the range of 50-60 liters for a trip of less than 4 days.lots of sleeping bag Labeled with the lowest temperature that makes the average sleeper comfortable. The compressible 20 degree bag can be used by many over 3 seasons.And some people like to crawl, tent At night, some people prefer to sleep in a bivouac bag or hammock.

Other important items include activity-specific items such as basic first aid kits, sunscreens, bug sprays, moleskin or duct tables for blisters, and Mylar emergency heat blankets. An event where you really get lost). A reliable headlamp with a new battery is a must, as well as a whistle, waterproof lighter or match, folding knife or multi-tool.

Check out the basics of the National Outdoor Leadership School for a comprehensive list of recommended equipment. Gear list Also outsideList of Of backpacking essentials.

Right pack

When it comes to packing these essentials, challenge the engineering of the pack itself. Modern backpacks are designed with a waist belt that distributes the weight of the pack to the waist and lower body. Place heavy items such as spare water, heating fuel, and food low on the pack’s main pouch, and light items such as down coats and sleeping bags high on the back. Most important items such as maps, snacks, cell phones, and at least one water bottle should be stored in an easily accessible external pocket.

Practice makes perfection

At Davis stores, reservations are required in the morning, so backpackers are one-on-one with trained employees to help customers find the right size backpack and make sure it’s properly fitted. Can get the attention of. Find jewelry that takes time to explain how to use items such as water purifiers, camping stoves, tents, and rain flies, even if such personalized remedies are not available in your place of residence. Practice using them long before you go out on the road. Nothing beats getting stuck outside in the Flood to make you think of another hobby.

Go to the gym before the trail

Even the most thoughtfully packed backpack will add extra weight and strain to your body. Combining it with the repetitive hiking movements will put a strain on your body in new (and sometimes exhausted) ways.

Competitive ultramarathon with a personal trainer to make sure your body is ready for the trail Crystal sea bar We encourage you to consider training strategies that will lead to basic cardiovascular conditioning. “Before weighting your mix, start spending real-time time at your feet,” says Seaver.

After that, you need to train to meet the unique demands of hiking on a particular exercise. Building core strength helps to stay stable on a variety of terrains. The strength of your back and upper body helps you to hang the pack on your shoulders. To achieve both, Seaver recommends these five exercises. Focus on controlled movement and good shape, and repeat 10 times each.

Step up


Single leg deadlift

Down-dog hold

Push-ups-normal or modified

Consider your fuel

(Justin Maret / Stock Sea)

When planning a meal, first think about what you really want to eat and how, and then add a little to it.Backcountry food can even be explosive Gourmand— But only if you have the time and patience to do it. Dehydrated foods are very easy, but they are also expensive.

Claudia Carberry, Registered nutritionists and Appalachian trail-through hikers are advised to start by simply fortifying their supermarket diet. For breakfast, add peanut butter or nutella to the instant oatmeal and rinse with instant coffee. Lunch is almost always a variation of rap. There are endless combinations of hummus, delicious hard cheese and salami. Carberry’s favorite supper starts with a box of rice or pasta (think Annie’s macaroni and cheese or near-east rice pilaf) and adds a pouch of tuna or cooked chicken to it. Umami can greatly help improve the taste of food, so bring a small bag of sun-dried tomatoes, olives, or freeze-dried mushrooms and consider tasting a little. Travel-sized seasonings such as Sriracha and flavor salt can also add a welcome zip flavor to the mix. “It’s a much cheaper way to eat,” says Carberry, “and you’re still finally just boiling water.”

Carberry advises hikers to make mild to moderate efforts To Add an additional 500 to 1,000 calories to your daily intake. Spreading these calories with regular treats is a great way to prevent strange things.Energy bars are as easy as they are everywhere Trail mix.. And when it comes to hydration, Carberry says he tends to prioritize water and skip energy drinks and hydration powders. “If you’re drinking the recommended daily dose” — at least 64 ounces, and for cooking — “and eat enough and hydrate There should be no problem“She says.

Take only a photo and leave only footprints

We go on trails because it is wild and often pristine. However, it doesn’t take long to completely destroy its beauty.That’s one of the reasons backpacking is defined by LNo eaves ethics, And it is essential to know how to follow it. Hiking only on designated roads. Whenever possible, camp only in designated areas. Light fire only with established firing (or, better yet, do not ignite the firing at all). Clean all campsites and keep the rest of the ecosystem found before you leave, even if the trash isn’t yours.


With a few exceptions, trails are always considered carry-in and carry-out. This includes obvious things like wrappers and empty canisters, but also leftovers, water used for cleaning, toilet paper, and (let’s take this out) your poop. If the landscape allows, you can choose to bury organic waste in the cathole at least 6 inches deep from the water source and as long as 200 feet away.If it’s not an option, you need to invest Portable toilet kit— —However, I have used pet shop poop bags many times with surprisingly good results. To avoid carrying extra stinking debris, many female hikers use their own pee shavings (often bandanas in Ziploc bags) and menstrual cups. To further reduce the amount of food you need to pack, choose food ingredients that can be packed in one bag and stored in bulk foods, especially in resealable pouches. The resealable freezer bag is ideal as a trail waste disposal unit.

If you feel that any of these rules are confusing, stick with this basic mantra. The forest is not mine. If that doesn’t work, try this: I’m not a jackpot. Did you take it? good. Please go outside.

Want to know more about backpacking for beginners?Check us out Backpacking 101 Online course Learn outsideOutside + members have full access to a library of over 50 courses on adventure, sports, health and nutrition.