Some people don’t know the difference between camping and backpacking, so we’re going to break it down. Camping is that vacation your dad dragged you and the family along on when you were a kid, but it really wasn’t that rough. You’ve got a cooler. You’ve got pillows. You’ve got firewood and lighter fluid. Anything you could possibly want your dad probably packed. Backpacking is spending days away from your vehicle, from bathrooms, from running water, from picnic tables and fire pits, and surviving with only the materials you can carry on your back.
Now that we’ve said all that, we want to make one thing clear – we think backpacking is awesome! It’s probably the best way to explore the outdoors, plus it’s excellent exercise. Unfortunately, we know a few too many people that weren’t properly prepared for it. To avoid a rude awakening like the one Reese Witherspoon had in Wild, we’ve assembled a few tips for you to heed on your first backpacking trip.
Make sure your new boots are broken in before you go. You can do this by going on several hikes around your local park in the weeks leading up to your trip. If you try to carry a 30 to 40-pound pack with brand new boots, you will get blisters and those are no fun.
Bring a poncho. Rain jackets are much too big and bulky to fit efficiently in your pack, but you need to have wet weather protection. Ponchos can be stuffed down into incredibly small sizes.
Carry at least 2 full-size bottles of water. This is especially important if you’re hiking in mountains or hot places. Altitude and heat can dehydrate you easily, and sometimes you may not even know it’s happening.
Bring lots of socks. Hiking with all that weight will get your feet very sweaty. Therefore, socks will be a life saver. Nothing worse than walking around with sweaty, moist feet. Ew!
Do research about where you’re backpacking. What’s the average temperature? What’s the weather report for your trip? Are there bears?
Also, some basic essentials that you shouldn’t forget: matches, flashlight, toilet paper, sunscreen, cooking utensils, fuel, stove, sleeping bag, tent, and as many knives as you want. There’s a lot more you should bring, and need to know, but here’s our number one piece of advice: Go with somebody who’s already been before. Seriously. They’ll help you out. We’re surprised Reese Witherspoon even survived the first half hour of that movie. If you don’t know what we’re talking about, see it. It’s a good one.