10 Tips for Beginners to Prepare a Backpacking Trip

It is important to know that backpacking is not an easy activity, but it’s not the hardest out there either. You just need to well-prepared, and the rest will be a piece of cake. But you’ll have to follow several steps to make this happen.

Here we will explain ten tips that will help you have a fantastic first backpacking experience. So take a step back and learn.

1. Pack the Essentials

You’ll need to pack everything you’ll eventually need, so you don’t eventually miss anything when it’s necessary. Here are the most critical items to consider:

  • Shelter: A tent, sleeping bag, and anything that protects from weather and environmental dangers.
  • Clothing & Insulation: Hiking clothes or anything protective & insulating depending on the place.
  • Footwear: Hiking boots or shoes will be helpful. Bring something comfortable, protective, durable and reliable.
  • Lighting: A flashlight, a lantern, a headlamp or a simple box of matches with candles – bring items to light up your way in dark nights.
  • First-Aid: Medication for personal health issues, gaze, antiseptics, suture & needles, plus anti-inflammatories and antibiotics will help in emergencies.
  • Hygiene: Soap, hand sanitizer, paper towel, body scrub, and others. Remember to keep your hygiene to feel more comfortable out there.
  • Fire & Tools: Anything that helps to make a fire including tinder and kindling. But also remember cooking utensils, your pots, plates, and cups, and a survival knife & a fork.
  • Navigation: A map, a compass, and a GPS will be the perfect combo for your trip. If a GPS doesn’t work the map and the compass will do the job.

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2. Pack Enough Food & Water

One of the most common mistakes of beginners is to forget packing up enough food and water for their trips. Things like all-in-one meals will help you at lunch, foods with high protein and carbs will be beneficial in dinner, and lighter but still fueling preparations can help in the morning breakfast.

Also remember to bring your gallon of water, at least one for every day you’re backpacking. If you don’t want to bring that much water, a purifier or filter will help you in case there’s enough water in the place you’re backpacking at.

3. Borrow, Re-use and Rent

You won’t have to buy new equipment for your first trip. It happens that most beginners start buying and storing stuff for their backpacking travels when they don’t even know what is really useful or not. To prevent this, as experienced backpackers what’s useful and lend them if possible.

From backpacks to tents, sleeping pads, fire-making items, and many others – the more you rent, borrow or rent will be better for you in the end. You won’t like to have hundreds of things for backpacking at home.

4. The Smaller, the Better

We recommend entirely that especially the larger items such as backpacks, sleeping bags, and tents, are eventually small and easy to carry.

Walking and hiking are not easy jobs when you have a very heavy bag on your back. It often happens when beginners end up completely tired and frustrated in the middle of the hike because they brought large and bulky items instead of small and light ones. Prevent this by carrying small & light items instead.

5. Don’t Over-pack

Similarly to bringing things that are too large for the backpacking trip, it is also common to see people carrying too many unusable items.

You don’t need to fill your backpack completely. The lighter it is, the easier your hike will be. Even if you think many extras will make your trip more comfortable, convenient, and entertaining, it’s very likely they will not.

Instead, keep it simple and light. The different types of terrain and roads you’ll encounter will make it challenging to hold heavy stuff. So make sure you bring only the necessary.

6. Be Organized

One of the things that will help you the most when packing and being in the wild will be making an organized backpack. Here you’ll find four major factors to consider:

  • Accessibility: Remember to keep things you need most close or with easy access.
  • Compression: Everything should be small and light. Focus on folding all your clothes and items well inside your backpack(s).
  • Protection: You want your items to be protected, so make sure you have a waterproof backpack and enough protection around to prevent any damage to your items.
  • Balance: Lastly, make sure the backpack offers enough balance. Not only you’ll have to make sure it is light but also that the items are evenly distributed.

To achieve all this, we recommend not waiting until the last day to organize your backpack. If you do it several days or even weeks before the trip, you can make sure it is exactly what you need in terms of accessibility, compression, protection, and balance.

Something that can help you is separating things in pockets and bags inside the backpack. This will increase organization and make overall accessibility easier. As long as it feels organized to you and makes your browsing & access more comfortable, then that will be the perfect organization for the trip.

7. Pack According to Weather & Environment

Whether you are going to a forest filled with bears and antelopes, or going to a very rainy jungle, or just in the most deserted hills in the country – always remember to bring all the necessary items accordingly.

For example, it can be useful to bring a can of bear spray if you’re going to a place where bear encounters are frequent. If you go to a deserted place, remember to bring a lot of water and your freshest clothing items. And if you’re going to a place with lots of rain, don’t forget your waterproof gear.

Researching the place you’re going to will always make it easy. From the wildlife to the regulations, terrain, climate and more – all these things will let you know what to pack beforehand.

8. Start With a Short & Easy Hike

The first backpacking trip you make needs to be easy. There’s no doubt about that, even if you are experienced with camping or one-day hikes, it is always a better choice to pick something small & not demanding.

If you can go to a half-day or one-day hike only will be the best idea at first. Then you can increase with time and start taking two, three or four-day backpacking trips without problems. But this is only once you’re experienced, as you will already know what to bring or not, and how to act accordingly.

Another great option is to consider going to easy places. Somewhere with water sources close or with towns & civilization near will also help. You don’t know when something unexpected happens, either your water bottle dries out, or you get into an emergency – being close to help is always useful.

9. Prepare Yourself for the Trip

Even though backpacking doesn’t have to be a tricky thing, we recommend always being prepared for all the different factors that matter when going on such a trip. Here are three factors you should take into account before backpacking:

  • Physical State: A backpacking trip is not a marathon, but it may involve multiple-hour hikes, getting into rivers or lakes and swimming, tons of walking or jogging, and always carrying heavy stuff. Make sure you are prepared for all this physically, or else you may have a terrible experience.
  • Mental state: Always understand that you’re going on a hike with several people, and your well-being may also affect others. You’ll need to be of strong will and mentally resistant. Don’t let a small inconvenience make you a weak person.
  • Logistics: Be sure to know where you’re going and what you’ll need accordingly. We recommend preparing a trip plan before going. Thinking about emergency situations, escapes, and more will be helpful to prevent unwanted situations.

10. Practice Before Going Out There

It is not easy to spend several hours, days, or weeks in the wild. Backpacking is not as easy as you taking a half-day hike or escalating your city hill. It can make your body very tired, and your mind wishes you’ve never taken the trip in the first place.

For that, we recommend practicing before going on the trip. You can take your tent to your backyard and assemble it the fastest way possible without issues. Practice all the skills from making a fire to cutting kindling before arriving at the place. And remember to train your body & mind for the activity to prevent surprises.

It’s important to understand how the gear works, what the trip takes, and how to cook & eat according to the environment. The more practice you have beforehand, the better you’ll strive in the wild.

Start Your First Backpacking Trip Now!

It’s all about having fun. Even though it can be a pretty daunting experience for some, as long as you have the right idea and practice – it will probably make your life better in every way.

Going backpacking doesn’t have to be a bad experience your first time. So make sure to follow the previous tips, and you’ll fare easily, comfortably, and with way more fun in the wild. This short guide will be a perfect help for anyone – so don’t hesitate and take it into account before your first trip.

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12 thoughts on “10 Tips for Beginners to Prepare a Backpacking Trip”

  1. I always used to overpack which put extra load on me. This is lengthy and useful article. It’s a step by step guide for the beginners like me. Good stuff.

  2. yeah, this is what I like about the shalusharman website, it is very helpful and inspiring when in this article we are given tips that are very useful and very suitable for travelers to try to travel the world in a backpacker way. and especially if you want to go to India we also know where we will visit because it has been explained in the previous article, thanks mom for the information

  3. Thanks for sharing for this helpful information for us. This is very important things which we consider for any long trip

  4. Hi Shalu, thanks for the article. I definitely agree that balancing your backpack is extremely important. Do you have any recommendations for clothing, gear, or maybe gadgets for backpacking in desert like climates?

  5. Packing is hard, no one can pack the bags within 5 to 10 minutes.
    It takes lots of times and energy if you want to enjoy the journey.

    Your tips are really helpful for packing the the enough stuff so we can not feel inconvenience while traveling.

  6. Before leaving home for trip often I remain confused about the packing that which things should I kept with me which not during travelling and also tens about the packing.
    But now you tell me simple but beneficial tips of packing. You are a wonderful blogger. Thanks

  7. Hey Madam, I always travel with few dress and small bags, Its is really difficult travel with heavy weight backpacks. I love walking while traveling a lot too, so backpacking must be friendly.. 🙂
    Thank you for sharing this.. I’m new to your Blog.. Subscribed. Expect more informative Posts from you.. 🙂

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