Your time off request has been approved, you’ve arranged transportation, and most importantly, you posted about it on social media. Now, it’s actually time to start packing and preparing for your backpacking trip! The process can be overwhelming if you’ve never done it before, but this guide will help you prepare for your trip with minimal stress.
Take into account where your trip is located – are you going somewhere where it will be hot and humid, or dry and cold? Every hiking area is so different that you should take the time to research the weather and landscape so you have an idea of what to expect. Regardless of the weather forecast, I always suggest bringing emergency items like a rain jacket and a hat, but you don’t want to go overboard and load down your pack with items you’ll have no use for.
Start with the basics – think about all the things you absolutely must have to survive your backpacking trip, and then fill out your pack from there. Essential items may include a charging brick, GPS device, first aid kit, food/water, and shelter, whether it be a sleeping bag or tent. You want to have your basics covered first so you’re not trying to cram the important items in between accessories like solar panels and a mini axe that you probably won’t even use.
Get comfortable with your gear – this is one of the best ways to set yourself up for success on your backpacking trip. There’s truly nothing worse than being in the middle of nowhere with no clue how to use your water filtration kit or set up your tent. Ideally, you could take an overnight or day trip as a “practice run” to get comfortable using your gear. If you can’t make that happen, get comfortable with your gear at home: practice water filtration in the sink, set up your tent in the living room or backyard, and cook dinner with your stove.
Know how to fit your pack with weight – one of the biggest shocks on your backpacking trip will be just how heavy your pack is. With all your gear, food, and water, your backpack will likely be significantly heavier than you’re prepared for. Before your trip, practice filling your pack with gear and dumbbells or other heavy items to get a feel for the weight and practice adjusting your pack. Typically, you’ll want most of the weight on your hip straps rather than your shoulders. This will save you from rubbing your shoulders raw and having a sore back during your trip.
Break in your shoes – unless you feel like torturing yourself, there’s absolutely no reason to break in your hiking shoes on your actual backpacking trip. Finding the perfect hiking shoe, whether it be a boot or a trailrunner, is a lengthy, and sometimes painful, process. Once you’ve identified the perfect shoe for your needs, take the time to break it in before you go on your trip. Wear your new shoes around the house, to the grocery store, and on neighborhood walks. If you don’t break your shoes in, you’ll likely experience lots of blisters and “hotspots” on your feet, which can ruin an otherwise amazing trip.
Communicate your plans to someone you trust – while there are a lot of tools and resources to keep you safe on a backpacking trip, one of the most important steps is giving your exact itinerary to someone you trust. Ensuring someone knows where you’ll be and how long you’ll be gone can be the difference between life and death if a situation gets dangerous. Put together any pertinent information on the location of your hike, and possibly a map, as well as instructions on when to contact authorities if you’re not heard from. Although it’s not a fun part of the planning process, doing so will give you and your loved ones peace of mind.
Need to find a Backpacking Squad? Check Out The Black Women Who Backpack group