7 Things I Wish I Knew Before My First Backpacking Trip

Catch Some Zzz’s

One of my personal favorite parts about backpacking is that it’s easy to catch up on sleep. The second the sun sets, most hikers zip up their tents and turn off their headlamps for the night. One of the easiest ways to have a bad trip though? Don’t pay enough attention to your sleep system beforehand. Make sure you are bringing gear that is comfortable and warm. A bad night sleep = a horrible day of hiking come the morning. Try to keep the system as a whole pretty light, but it’s definitely worth it to throw in an extra pound or two of gear if it means the difference between sweet dreams and a sleepless night.

Keep It Dry

It’s day one of a four-day trip. You get caught in a torrential downpour. Since this is your first time out in the back country, you forgot to protect your gear from the rain and will now be living in a wet tent and wearing wet clothes for the next four days. Don’t let this be you – use a pack liner, pack cover or both to make sure you’re ready whenever the rain decides to start. Put the most important gear (your sleep system, clothes, electronics, anything made from down, etc) in waterproof stuff sacks. Rain is never fun, but this ensures that when you get to camp you will be able to slip on some dry camp clothes, eat a hot meal, and fall asleep to the peaceful sound of rain in your dry sleeping bag. Chances are however, that the clothes you were hiking in won’t dry too much if you hang them overnight. Body heat tends to dry clothes as you hike in the sun the next day – just be sure to have extra dry socks to hike in to avoid blisters the next day!

Most importantly? Roll with the punches, embrace the suck, and enjoy every second you get to spend on the trail.

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