Planning Your First Backpacking Hike
Don’t let anyone tell you that backpacking is easy, because it’s not, although it’s a lot of fun and something that you’ll never forget.
Backpacking, especially if you’re doing it for the first time – or this is the first time without a teacher or guide leader etc. – can be really scary, and it can be even scarier if you know you haven’t prepared correctly. In order to prevent your backpacking experience from quickly turning into one of the worst decisions you ever made it’s essential to plan everything before you leave.
Your backpacking experience is all about getting there as well as arriving at your destination and in order to get there successfully you really need to plan your entire journey before you set off. The first thing you should do is find suitable backpacking companions. When you go backpacking it really is imperative to travel in a group both for safety and moral support.
When finding people to hike with you also need to make sure that they want the same things as you. If you’re the sort of person who wants to take it slowly and explore the countryside as you get closer to your destination then you’re unlikely to want to travel with someone who wants to climb every mountain on your route so before you decide anything you need to be sure that you’re traveling with the right people.
Once you’re sure that you’re traveling with the right people you need to plan exactly where you’re going to go. Guide books and maps are essential as it will give you a better idea of where you’re going. One handy tip that you can use to get rid of unnecessary weight is to cut the covers off all of your maps and guidebooks. When deciding on a map to buy make sure it has details like high and low land along with trails, campsites and other things that you might find useful.
If you haven’t been backpacking at all or you haven’t been for a while then you should choose a short, easy route that can be easily adapted should you need to. If you set out to walk five miles a day on a four day hike but you realise that you, or your companions, will only be able to manage two miles a day then make sure you’ve decided alternative routes that you can go along so that you can still finish your trip.
Jemma Kelson is a frequent backpacker and has recently backpacked across the entire African continent with her rucksack from londonluggage.co.uk.