There are so many mental and physical benefits of backpacking. Spending time with nature has been shown to have so many benefits, and every one of us would benefit from spending some time outside. That said, if you are new to backpacking, you might not know where to start, how to get ready, and how to avoid many of the common mistakes new backpackers make. Here are some pro tips that will help you avoid common mistakes new backpackers make.
Pack What You Need, Not What You Want
A mistake that new backpackers make is carrying things that do not help them on their journey in any way. A guitar might help keep the mood upbeat around a campfire, but do you really need to carry it? Remember that the more items you carry, the heavier your backpack will be, and that can hamper how far you can go and how many days you can spend in nature.
The essential items you need include your tent, sleeping bag, a stove, water purifier and container, gear for rain, and warm clothing. Anything else should be essential, like matches or extra socks.
Also, choose a comfortable backpack. The ideal backpack should have padded shoulder straps. Hip straps are also an excellent addition because they can help get some weight off your shoulders and back.
Give Yourself Enough Time
Many new backpackers do not know how much preparation goes into making simple things like fishing or hunting happen. You need to be prepared for the day, so wake up early and give yourself time to get everything ready before the sun gets too hot. Waking up early also means you catch the morning bliss that is peaceful and perfect for a meditation session, which can help set the mood for the rest of the day.
The weather will almost always be against you while hiking, especially if you are going up a mountain. It will get colder as you climb, so it is always a good idea to layer appropriately to make sure you do not succumb to the cold. Layering properly does not mean wearing every warm item of clothing you have as doing that adds extra weight. There’s a method to layering properly, and that involves balancing your comfort, the weight you can carry, and the right layers for how cold it is going to be on your hike. At the very least, ensure your base layer is warm enough. This will guarantee you will only need to add more layers if the temperature plummets too far.
Do Not Wear Your Body Down
While going a certain distance on the first day can be a challenge that needs to be completed, it will wear your body down. A good tip is always to pace yourself and rest before you are tired. Also, do not follow anyone else’s roadmap. You know your body better, and it might not be able to take as much beating like a pro backpacker’s body can.
Also, check up on yourself. You will be surprised by the number of new backpackers who do not stop to check if they are hungry, tired, or thirsty.
Drink Water Every Time You Can
Many backpackers, both new and seasoned, do not consider their stomachs to be containers. When you get to a source of water, always drink as much as you can before filling your containers. This saves you from carrying extra weight and ensures you can go for longer before needing the water in your container.
Dehydration can get very serious very fast since you are in an area with no modern amenities, and getting help can be problematic. Therefore, drink water liberally throughout your hike, and holding yourself to a 2-liter minimum is a good place to start.
Do Not Take Shortcuts
As your hike goes on, you might begin to feel tired, and the days can start feeling longer and longer. At this stage, you might start thinking of taking shortcuts so you can end the hike early. Do not do this. This is how mistakes are made, and you might end up in an unknown area and become forced to backtrack. Stick to your route and keep it slow and steady if things start getting tough.
Also, avoid simple mistakes like standing on the edge of a cliff to take a picturesque sunset photograph or taking a dip in fast-moving water. These things might seem fun, but you will be putting yourself in unnecessary danger.
Join a Hiking Group
A hiking group can make your hike easier and fun. Being in a group also means you can get help if something goes wrong. Joining a group ensures you have people to motivate you when things start getting tough and provides an opportunity to learn from the professionals who might be in your group.
Familiarize Yourself with Survival Skills
Preparing mentally before a hike is essential, but it is much more important to teach yourself survival skills. Things like setting up a tent properly, reading a map, finding safe water to drink, starting a fire, and using navigation equipment properly will come in handy during the hike. Also, do not forget to teach yourself some emergency skills like taking care of cuts and bruises or even a sprained ankle.
Ask Lots of Questions
Professional backpackers were once new to backpacking like you are right now. They are where they are because they learned how to do it right, and the best way for you to learn is to ask for help and information whenever you need it. Not only will they share lots of useful tips for beginners, but you might even make long-lasting relationships. And, who doesn’t want to hear stories about amazing backpacking destinations?
Tell Friends and Family Where You Are Going
A lot of backpackers do not like admitting it, but things can and do go wrong during a hike. Leaving information about your hike with friends or family means they will know where to start should something go wrong, and you do not show up at the specified place on the planned date.
Going on your first backpacking adventure can be fun, but you need to remember a few things. Plan properly, do not make simple mistakes, join a group and, most importantly, learn some essential survival skills.