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Backpacking Basics: Tips to Keep You on the Trail and Out of Trouble

When you go out there into the wilderness, there are many adventures you’re likely to have. There are also many dangers that await you. Here’s how to keep yourself on the trail, safe, and out of trouble.

Take An Experienced Partner

If you’re going on a trip, one of the best things you can do is travel with another experienced backpacker. Team up with a friend or relative that has logged a lot of footsteps in the great outdoors. Ideally, this person would be familiar with the area you’re about to hike through.

Knowledgable company is good for peace of mind, but also to keep you out of trouble and help you better understand the terrain so that you become more experienced by the end of your trip.

If you travel in a group of 4 to 6 people, you gain a collective advantage and the opportunity to make memories that you probably won’t be able to make otherwise.

Knowledgable company is good for peace of mind

Get The Right Gear

One of the most important things you can do before your trip is to ensure you have the right gear. You’ll want to consider things like the length of your trip, the difficulty, special considerations like whether you’re taking your dog or your children, and any special interests you want to focus on, like special trees native to the area or wildflowers you want to study.

JanSport has some of sturdiest backpacks you can purchase for a serious hiking trip, while Icebreakers makes some of the warmest base layers for long hiking trips in cooler months.

Spend some time trying out different types of gear in the store before buying, regardless of whether you ultimately decide to purchase something online or not.

You want to make sure that the gear fits you properly, is constructed well, and will fit your hiking needs.

Get the right Gear

Pick An Appropriate Destination

You’ll want to consider things like the length of your trip, who’s going with you and their experience, as well as any special considerations (if you’re bringing kids and what that means in terms of the time you can spend out hiking).

Pick up some guidebooks for the places you plan on hiking, visit websites for the national parks you plan on visiting. Websites can tell you a lot about the wildlife you’re likely to encounter, the weather during various times of the year, and generally what to expect.

You can (and probably should) also speak with park services about your trip to get ideas on what to see and the park conditions. This is especially important if it’s recently rained or there’s been downed trees or maintenance done on the park.

Take Food

Take some food with you if you plan on being gone all day. For simplicity, you should choose freeze-dried foods that don’t require more than a few cups of boiling water and 10 minutes of prep time. You can also take trail mixes if you want snacks.

Some hikers take time to cook breakfast while others save time with ready-to-eat items.

Lunch can be a meal or several breaks throughout the day, depending on your normal eating habits. Whatever you decide to do for food, never leave anything behind. Carry a canister with you to protect your food and always clean up after yourself when you’re done.

National parks usually have specific rules about refuse, which you must follow. But, beyond that, polluting a natural resource ruins it for others and for yourself on future visits.

Take care to hang food or keep it away from campsites when it’s out so as to keep wild animals away from your campsite.

Bears, especially, like free food from humans.

Airtight canisters are great for food storage, and they can be tucked away in backpacks while you’re on the move.

Alaska Brown Bear

Close-up of an Alaskan Brown Bear. Always maintain a safe distance.

Tips When You’re Bringing Kids

When you have children, the rules change – a lot. Adjust your expectations in regards to travel. Specifically, you will travel slower and over shorter distances. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t have fun. You can, and you probably will end up cultivating a new kind of respect for nature, and a deeper love for your children.

Teach your children respect for the land. Encourage your children to stay on the trails and not to cut switchbacks. Ask them not to pick too many flowers, tag rocks, and carve their names into tree trunks, all of which deface the natural landscape and ruin the experience for others.

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Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging since 2007, with the main aim of inspiring others to embark on their own worldwide adventure. Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

Follow their journey on Facebook, TwitterYouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.

Karen Spears has spent years working as a wilderness guide and likes to share her insights online.She has posted her thoughts across a range of relevant websites.

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