When asked about their first overnight trip, your average outdoor enthusiast may describe a perfect weekend spent ogling dramatic landscapes and sleeping under starry skies. But what they may be leaving out is the gear they forgot and mistakes they made while learning the ropes.
While it’s true that a hiker’s first few backpacking trips can be filled with magic and dreamy nostalgia, they are often full of missteps that are sometimes too embarrassing to fully admit. From forgotten gear to “bathroom” malfunctions, there are a lot of mistakes—and consequently a lot of learning—that happen during those first few trips.
It’s important not to be discouraged by your beginner backpacking mistakes. Even the best hikers and most prestigious Triple Crowners had to start somewhere, and there is no shame in the errors you made while learning the ins and outs of the backpacking world. As proof, we’ve compiled some of the funniest “first backpacking trip” stories from thru-hikers and long-distance hikers to show that even the most experienced backpackers on the trail sometimes get off to a rocky start.
Beginner Backpacking Stories
Pants and Toilet Paper: Same Thing.
The first time I ever went backpacking was a 38-mile loop in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I had no idea what type of clothes to wear, so I wore a pair of black Dickies work pants. It rained four out of the five days we were out hiking. They became so hot and wet that I had to cut them into shorts. I also forgot toilet paper on this trip and had to use the cutoff pieces of pants as toilet paper. It was awful…
-Wankles, Appalachian Trail / Long Trail /Foothills Trail