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Backpacking: How to Prepare For Your First Trip

Are you looking for new ways to travel? Your friends have told you amazing stories about their backpacking journeys? If you are looking for your first backpacking trip, follow our guide to learn how to prepare.

Backpacking can be a ton of fun, but you got to be prepared. Failing to light a fire one night, can lead to too little to no sleep if it’s cold. Maybe you will be left without food because you simply didn’t pack enough. Great backpacking gear alone, won’t make your trip easy. You will have to learn and practice some skills before your first trip.

Learn How to Make a Fire

This is the single most important skill you need if you are heading out into the wilderness. While in the summer you might be okay without fire, in colder months it’s essential for grabbing a good night’s sleep.

Other than the obvious comfort benefits you will also need a working fire pit to cook. Don’t think big things, but let’s say you really want a coffee in the morning. Well, even for that you got to have the heat going.

Open Fire Cooking

Practice Cooking on Open Fire

Although cooking in an oven is easy, you will need to get some practice with a real fire before going backpacking. You must know, that a real fire will not provide such an easily controllable environment. Make the flames too big, you will burn the outside of the meat before the inside even gets hot. Make them too small, you will still be looking at almost raw meat after hours of cooking.

Another important aspect of backpacking is actual food, you don’t need to cook. As you never know what kind of opportunities will come along, you should bring some canned food along. We highly recommend kidney beans. They are okay straight out of the can, and due to the high protein content, they can be really filling.

Bring Warm Clothing

Seriously, it can get cold at night. Even in summer, when you think you are safe, you got to have some kind of heat protection. As a rule of thumb, always have a great sleeping back. If it’s hot, then great, you will just not use it. But if it’s cold, you will be really happy to have a sleeping bag that can deal with such temperatures.

Same goes for clothing. Although it’s always recommended trying to pack light, you have to at least think about some kind of protection from the cold. Also, make sure you always bring more clothing you need. Maybe you will need to cross a river, and all the clothes you are wearing will be soaking wet.

Sleeping Bags

Get Comfortable With Your Tent

Don’t make the mistake of bringing a tent onto your trip, that you haven’t pitched yet. You may be tempted to get the best and newest tent for your trip. Rightfully so, as it will provide better shelter and better comfort thanks to the new technologies.

However, always put the tent up at home. Try it in the garden. You have to fully assemble, and understand where everything goes. It’s essential that you get familiar with your tent. In the wilderness, the circumstances might not be so easy. Maybe it will get dark by the time you get to your camping point. Maybe it will be extremely windy, or it will be raining. In these situations, it’s really important, that you can put the tent up quickly and effectively.

Get Familiar With Your Limits

For backpacking, it’s best to plan ahead. For this, you need to know how much you can do in one day. Be it walking, hiking, mountaineering, you will need to consider your limits when planning each leg of the journey.

Learn Which Plants are Edible

You should know that the forest has tons of fruits and plants you shouldn’t eat. You need to be prepared and know what to eat and what to avoid. Eating something poisonous can end your backpacking trip in hospitalization. Be careful what you pick up, and definitely be prepared to know if you can eat it or not.

Edible Plant

Know Your Animals

Make sure, that you know what kind of animals you can expect from the area. Wherever you are backpacking, it’s almost guaranteed that you will come across wildlife. After all, you are in their territory when roughing it.

Knowing what kind of animals live in the area, means you can prepare for meeting them. You will need to know what to do and how to approach each wildlife encounter to stay safe.

Know How to Navigate

When you are deep in the forest, you got to know how you will get out. Learn how to properly read a map and compass. Also, learn how you can read the night sky. The stars can tell you a lot about where you are right now. Learn from our ancestors, who were really great when it came to reading the stars.

Map and Compass

Learn Some First Aid

When in the wilderness, there will be no one to help if you are injured. You will need to learn at least the basics of first aid before your first trip. It’s very easy to get some minor injuries during backpacking. To allow for the best healing and to not let any injury slow you down, you have to be familiar with basic treatment.

Learn Basic Weather

You have to be familiar with weather patterns and how to identify them. If you know a storm is coming you can prepare. However, if it catches you unprepared you will have a hard time. Putting up a tent in a heavy storm is not fun, and you are guaranteed to get some water inside.

Incoming Bad Weather

These are our top tips and skills you need to learn before your first backpacking. Although it can sound a little scary, it’s a unique experience. It can be both exciting and amazing to be away from civilization and on your own.

Check out our other posts on travel, like our guide on things to do in Prague with kids.