Whether you’re walking into the woods a few hundred feet from your home for a night of camping or trekking across the Sahara for an entire month of backcountry backpacking, having everything work out perfectly – without a hitch – is an important part of making each backpacking trip fun and safe.
However, not everything always goes as planned. You may think you have everything lined up and worked out perfectly, but the universe and mother nature can both be cold-hearted forces and sometimes saying that you are prepared is just like admitting that you could not be more un-prepared.
Fortunately, we at Outdoor Revival have experience backpacking and have organized an easy to remember list of things that you’ll want to address before heading out on your backpacking trip.
1 – Over Packing
Everyone over packs at least once. Lifting weights isn’t fun. People can pick things up and put them down all day long, but sooner or later everyone will get bored or tired. Over Packing is the same thing as lifting weights all day and before you know it you’ll be cursing your shoulders because of their pain and cursing your pack because of its weight.
With each trip comes essentials that’ll need to be packed, and with that comes the things that we think (actually won’t) we’ll need. Being able to separate the essentials from the things we won’t need is an important skill and a skill that will come with time.
You’re bound to over pack on your first trip, however, being aware that you are over packing may help with avoiding it in the future. Our best advice to avoid over packing is to research the area you will be exploring and organize your pack accordingly. If you were going to be trekking through Death Valley during mid-summer, I’d go without the wool hiking socks and extra sleeping bag. If you’re going to the hiking in snowy tundra of Tibet, you should probably leave the swimsuit at home.
2 – Water Proofing
This goes without much need of explanation. When you want perfect weather, rain sucks and can ruin what would have been a perfect trip in a heartbeat. Fortunately, tons of products exist that help to waterproof your gear and can keep you dry and warm for days on end.
Some products are glue-like and you spray them over your tent, raincoat, hammock, tarp, or any type of material that will be in direct contact with the rain and it repels the water and fills in any holes that could cause annoying and spirit dampening leaks.
Waterproofing is important! Even if the radar calls for clear skies and warm weather, better to be safe than sorry. The weather, especially in mountainous regions, can change quickly and having a dry tent to retreat too can be the defining factor between having a good time and never leaving your home again. Waterproof everything you can and you’ll never have to worry about finding a dry spot to wait out the storm again.
3 – Food
Food is essential to survival. Here are some easy to pack food ideas that will keep you fed without weighing down your pack.
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Pasta: Lightweight, easy to pack, calorically dense, and easy to cook. Pasta is perfect for long trips because all you need is a fire and hot water to cook it. Perfect for those cold nights.
Oat Meal: Almost identical in terms of why Pasta is so great.
Peanut Butter: Calorically dense, protein heavy, sweet and sugary (for those with a sweet tooth), easy to pack. No need for the jar, just take a few tablespoons and spread it over wax paper and then wrap the waxy paper up and place inside a plastic bag for storage.
Trail Mix: It literally has “Trail” in the name. Trail Mix is a perfect snack for hiking and can provide all of the basic nutrients needed for survival. Go for the mix with a lot of chocolate chips…mMm, Chocolate.
Dried Fruit: I find dried fruit particularly great in the mornings at a campsite. Just drop a few chunks of dried fruit into a cup of boiling water and you will have yourself a tasty and warm pick-me-up to start your day off right. Additionally, dried fruit like oranges, bananas, and grapes are awesome snacks for a long day of hiking.
4 – First Aid
This is hopefully an obvious reminder. Always take some sort of first aid equipment. A generic first aid kit can come in handy and has everything from bandages to pain relievers to cleaning products for wounds.
A simple first aid kit can be the defining factor between life and death when out in the wilderness. And even it comes to never being needed by you, there is always the chance that you will come across someone else that could use some help. Pack a First Aid Kit… it’s always worth it.
5 – Fire Preparations
Fire. That should be enough said. But for those that don’t quite get it yet, having a good fire is always a great source of happiness when away from civilization. Fires not only provide warmth, but they provide a good mood boosting effect that can take the worst days and transform them into hopeful nights that give hikers the boost they need to go on the next day.
Additionally, fires are used to provide hot meals, light, and the perfect ambiance for sipping on some backpack whiskey with friends. Be sure to gather firewood as soon as you set up camp and store it somewhere for it to stay dry or to dry out over night.
There are plenty of wet wood fire starters that work well when trying to start a fire after a rain; however, having dry firewood makes things so much easier. Make having a fire one of your top priorities when you arrive at a campsite and you’re almost guaranteed a good time.
Check with park/ forest rangers before starting a fire if you do not know the laws or regulations.
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We live in a beautiful world, get out there and enjoy it.
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