The sun is shining, the weather is turning and you’re craving a trip to the backcountry. Planning a trip can be stressful, but with these steps, you’ll be ready for your backpacking trip in no time. So grab your gear and pack your bag. Here’s everything you need to do when planning your backpacking trip.
#1 Narrow Down Your Bucket List
Like every backpacker, you probably have a bucket list of places you wish to go. The first step when planning a backpacking trip is to narrow that list down to something practical (let’s be honest, not ALL bucket list items are attainable at certain times). To narrow your options, there are a few things you must consider.
Time and Distance
How far do you plan on going? Are you planning on going for a night, week, month etc? How much time do you have to hike the distance you want to go? If you’re limited on time, you’ll need to know how many miles you should tackle each day to make sure you can finish your trek within your time constraints.
Region and Climate
Where do you plan on going? Are you looking for a specific environment? Depending on the amount of time you have, it might be wise to choose a place close to home and backpack for the weekend. However, if you’re expanding your horizons and going further, make sure you do your research on the environment you will be spending your time in, and keep in mind that climate varies at different times of the year. If you know the logistics and you’ll be golden.
Group or Solo?
If you’re hiking solo you don’t have to worry about others and their pace. However, if you’re hiking with a group you’ll need to make accommodations for others. For example, you’ll need to accommodate the pace of the slowest hiker in your group because no hiker left behind (and you all want to make it to said final destination together and in one piece).
Preparation and Training
You’ll want to make sure you’re in shape to complete your backpacking trip comfortably and on time. Follow our 10-week training program to get into shape for your backpacking trip.
#2 Choose a Location
When you’re looking over your options of places to go for your trip, list out the pros and cons of each and their resources before choosing a location. This makes it easier to make your decision and pinpoint your exact destination.
#3 Map the Route
Mapping your route ahead of time will save you time in the long run. Visit websites to find trail maps and guidebooks, and reach out to locals and local groups or organizations to get all the information you’ll need for your trip and use this information to plan.
How many miles will you be hiking each day? Where will you set up camp? How will you get water? What is the terrain like? What about the elevation gain? These are all things that should be considered when mapping your route.
#4 Gear and Supplies
This will be one of the most important steps to get you prepared for your trip: figuring out which gear to bring and how much supplies you will need. Do you need permits? Federal lands vary in permit requirements for backcountry camping, so make sure you do your research when you’re mapping your route. What will the trail conditions be like? Pack your gear accordingly. How many supplies will you need? What about food? Fuel? If you’re hiking with a group, can some of this be shared? What animals or insects might you face? Do you have the proper gear and knowledge to take care of yourself if things get sticky? And finally, make sure to check your gear condition. There’s nothing worse than setting up camp in the backcountry and realizing your sleeping bag zipper is busted or you have a hole in your tent.
Packing can be a breeze if you follow our guide on how to pack a backpack. As long as you’re organized, you should be packed up in no time. Don’t forget to also check the weather beforehand (as it changes often) to make sure you’re bringing the proper gear.
*Leave your itinerary with someone you trust and write down who to contact if you haven’t returned at your expected time because anything can happen in the backcountry. It’s also wise to leave a piece of paper with contact information under the front seat of your car, just in case.