Midtboe Backpacking Basics for Beginners

If you love hiking and camping most likely you’d want to learn about backpacking. If you are a first timer backpacker, you may find the great outdoors challenging. Camping in the wilds, miles away from roads, people and facilities, provides you with the ultimate solitude.

Don’t let the fears of unfamiliar landscape or being in the wilderness prevent you from going backpacking. Here are a few tips from to help you get started.



Backpacking refers to trekking, tramping, or backcountry camping and is a mix of hiking and camping in the wilds. As a backpacker, you need to carry camping gear, which includes clothing, sleeping bag, a tent, cookware and food in a backpack while hiking to a camping destination in a backcountry.

Backpacking trips can be a short one-night trip or trips that last for many days. Some trips begin at a trailhead and end at a different one. Some backpackers engage in long-distance trips, which lasts for months or end-to-end treks known as thru-hikes. Common thru-hikes include the Appalachian Trail (AT) and the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).


Getting ready for Backpacking

If you are a rookie backpacker or if it is your first time out in the season, ensure you get in shape before hitting the trail. The additional weight of carrying your camping gears makes backpacking more difficult than hiking.

Getting in shape will require that you begin your hiking with minimal mileage and with a lightweight pack.  As the time gets closer to your trip, add some more mileage and increase the weight of your backpack. All this will equip you to manage your trip better while on the trail.

What do you do, if you don’t have the time to train? If this is your plight, then ensure you reduce your load by taking only that which is necessary and your lightweight gears. In addition, select a destination that is not many miles away from the trailhead. See more here.


For most backpackers, their chief goal is to carry needed camping gears while keeping their pack light.  Food and shelter are vital for make your backpacking trip successful.  While there are essential items that you will need to carry, others can be shared among backpackers to ease weight issues for one person.

Before packing, create a backpacking list to ensure you take only what is essential. Non-essential items must be left at home so that you can hike easily and comfortably.

Backpacking destination

The most popular destination for backing are wildernesses, national and state parks, and forest areas.  Seek advice from your local ranger station on the popular routes. You can also check the camping and outdoor retailer in your locality for maps and books.

Select a destination that is near a river, creek, or lake to ensure you have adequate source of water. After choosing your destination, get the correct permits and check regulations for camping, storage, fire and food. See:



A map and compass or GPS device is of utmost importance and knowing how to use them is of equal importance.

Never leave without telling someone when you will be leaving, where you are going and the route you’re taking. Ensure you inform them when you get back.

Another essential item to take with you on your backpacking trip is a small first-aid kit. In addition, be aware of the emergency resources available in your intended backpacking region.  Stay calm, decide on an action plan and get help during a wilderness emergency.


A non-profit organization called The Leave No Trace Foundation has some recommended principles and guidelines for campers as well wilderness trekkers. The majority of backpackers approve of the “leave no trace” guidelines which literally means “pack out what you pack in.”

The core principles of “The Leave No Trace” include:

  • Proper disposal of waste
  • Reduce the impact of campfire
  • Travel and camp on hard surfaces
  • Respect wildlife
  • Be thoughtful of other visitors.
  • Leave what you find.

It’s important to check the park or forest service ranger station for rules specific to your intended camping area. Depending on the state and the time of the year, certain rules may not support campfires, or may want specific containers for storing food or certain areas may be closed for renovation.

It is highly recommended that you camp no less than 100 feet from water.  If you follow guidelines, and essential backpacking principles you’ll be contributing to wilderness conservation for future generations.

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