Basics of Backpacking

First time backpacking treks into the backcountry are exciting, and full of new adventures and experiences. But, there are some challenges as well, so it’s best to take some advice from the Boy Scouts of America: Be prepared.

There are no services in the backcountry: When you’re backpacking in the backcountry, you are traveling entirely independently, and need to carry in everything you will need for your adventure. Take the time to carefully plan your supplies, and then consider the additional weight these supplies will add.

Nature is unpredictable: Weather in the backcountry is unpredictable, but this is part of the thrill and excitement of backpacking. It’s impossible to know exactly what weather you’ll encounter, so it’s best to plan for the obvious and expect the unexpected.

Respect the backcountry: Part of the joy of backpacking comes from absorbing the backcountry as it is, unspoiled and pristine. Soak up all of the beauty and marvel at the world around you, and then leave it exactly as you found it so others can have the same experience. Take only pictures leave only footprints.

Preparing for a Backpacking Trip in the Backcountry

Bring a Buddy: Having an experienced friend with you, on your first backpacking trek into the backcountry, can make the trip more enjoyable. And, if you do run into problems, there is someone to help.

Create an Itinerary: Easing into your new backpacking hobby is probably the best approach; it gives you an idea of what to expect and isn’t full of overwhelming new experiences. When starting out, choose a destination close to home, and plan for a shorter excursion.

Be Prepared: Try a few day hikes to condition yourself, to make sure your boots are broken in, and to become accustomed to the weight of your backpack. Blisters and back pain can ruin anyone’s day. Familiarize yourself with the terrain, check the weather forecast and always remember that conditions can change in an instant so bring the supplies you anticipate needing.

Acquire the Equipment: Do some research to make sure you’re getting the right equipment; ask an experienced backpacker, read information online, and ask salespeople for advice.

Few things match the thrill and incredible peacefulness that can be found on a backpacking trek through the backcountry. But, the experience can turn scary and even dangerous if proper preparation and planning isn’t done before the excursion. The most successful backpacking trips are the ones that are well organized.

About Author


  • Great stuff. I would reinforce “Respect the Backcountry” Every user should be familiar with the Leave No Trace principles ( or in the case of the Adirondack Park, the Adirondack Forest Preserve Education Partnership Principles (
    There are three priorities that must be maintained in priority order:
    1. Be safe
    2. Preserve the environment
    3. Enjoy yourself (this priority must always take the third seat to the first two)

  • Hikingthetrail

    I would add to Hydrate yourself in the days leading up to your hike. NEVER go on a hike thinking there will be water in the creek or watering hole.

  • Customer

    The best advice is the practice run scenario. Nothing helps one be prepared by a few shorter simple dry runs. To find out what gear works and doesn’t and how to use the gear. Breaking in shoes by making the short dry runs sure help. Also if something doesnt work out your not on a 3 day trip with a 1.5 day hike back in misery. Try camping out in your new tent or sleeping bag in the backyard in similar conditions you may be backpacking in. Make sure you know how that new tent is put together so you know how to put it together blindfolded because in the rain in the dark you will feel like your doing it blindfolded.

  • June Xue

    Mentioning the equipment,a camping tent is a must.Which one is better?A camping tent from Quictent is ok?

  • Rennjenn917

    Try a couple of shakedown trips before your big trip. Working out the bugs beforehand helps make for a better experience. Use a headlamp for hands free tent setup in the dark. Don’t take more than you absolutely need to.

  • One

    Research the trail you’ll be hiking before you go. Check weather forecast also before BUT always bring some cold/foul weather gear & plenty of water. You can last for days without food but not without water. Tell someone where you are going in case of an emergency at home or on the trail. At least email someone & let them know your plans.

  • James White

    I’m a novice backpacker and the information I’m reading here is great! Thanks guys!!

  • Mark

    The advice below is great. Consider trekking poles, think 4wheel drive vs. 2, and have a fresh pair of socks and sock liners for each day.

  • sjbusa

    In addition to filling bottles or bladders when at a water source in the backcountry, remember to drink your fill. Your stomach is a convenient and high-capacity water container.