A Beginner’s Guide to Backpacking

Mt. Taranaki, North Island, New Zealand
backpacking trip in New Zealand with awesome wanderlust friends

Photo by Louisa Albanese (procured from Backpacker.com) 


So, you want to be a backpacker. You want to get out of the city and explore the wild outdoors. You want to immerse yourself with mother nature and go back to your roots. To simply put it, you want to escape the stress of work and everything about the city life. This article will help you prepare for it.

The Mindset

backpacker with a positive mindset

Mentally preparing yourself for your backpacking adventure is just as important as making sure you got all your gear ready for the trip. Part of making sure you’re mentally prepared is knowing everything there is to know. A few of these things are the following:

  • The Destination. Checking out websites, reading brochures and asking a few of your backpacking friends about the area will certainly help a lot with mentally preparing yourself for the task ahead of you. This will also allow you to plan your timetable to make sure that you reach your destination and go back home within your planned time.
  • Learn Survival Skills. Knowing basic survival/first aid skills will go a long way in case anything goes south while you’re on your backpacking trip. This will greatly help you and your companions get out of dangerous situations alive during the trip.
  • Getting Physically Ready. You might think it belongs to a different category. Being physically prepared for your trip will roll over into your mental landscape. Knowing that you are physically capable of any tasks related to your backpacking trip will mentally prime you for the long adventure ahead.

Hone Your Skill Set

dude with awesome outdoor navigational skills(c) Reserve America

Backpacking may seem fun – and it is. However, it is essential that before your trip you learn a few skills to help you with your adventure and make it easier and fun. A few things that you need to learn are the following:


  • Navigation. Most trail sites are easy to navigate, especially if the place has been visited millions of times by other backpackers. However, it can get confusing, even more so if you go off the grid or try a different route to your destination. Knowing how to properly use a map and a compass will greatly help while you’re zig-zagging through the forest during the trip.
  • Communication. While it may sound ironic to bring communication devices during your trip (since you’re trying to get away from the stress of modern life), bringing a reliable communication device will help in cases where you find yourself in danger, experiencing a medical emergency or have totally lost your way. A good handheld radio with an extra antenna can help you get assistance should you fall into hard times.
  • Environmental Awareness. Most camp and trail sites are heritage sites. This means that the area has been preserved with utmost care to maintain the integrity of the place for everyone to enjoy and appreciate. Knowing that, we should be careful not to damage anything during the trip. This includes taking care of the plants and trees as well as the animals living freely in the wild. Knowing the basic rules and regulations of the area will also keep you out of trouble during your hike.

What Should You Bring?

outdoor food preparation for campers and backpackers

(c) American Gun Association

Now that you have conditioned your mind for the trip, it is time to make sure you bring all the necessary equipment with you on your adventure. One thing to remember is that if you can borrow or rent the priciest items like tent and sleeping bag, do so. You could always use the extra cash to buy the things that needs to be personally yours. To that end, here are the fundamental things to bring with you on the trip:

  • Tent. A two-person tent is more practical and economical than bringing two one-person tents. Sharing is highly recommended! Be sure to bring a tent that’s suited for the weather in the area, like a tent rated for three seasons.
  • Backpack. Make sure to use a well-padded backpack as it can get heavier to carry it along the way. If you want to lose excess weight, make sure your other gear such as the tent, sleeping bags and sleeping pads are of the ultralight variety.
  • Sleeping Bag and Sleeping Pad. Make sure that the sleeping bag you bring suits the weather and the sleeping pad is comfortable enough for the overnight sleep. The lighter these are, the better!
  • Food and Food Preparation Gear. Stove, canisters of fuel for the stove, water treatment gear and other kitchen supplies are essential. A good view of the mountain range during your hike can be made more special while you’re enjoying a good meal.
In conclusion, knowing everything you need to know beforehand will allow you to enjoy the trip more and worry less. Asking for tips and seeking advice from a seasoned backpacker will greatly help prepare for the adventure. As always, to ensure the place is in pristine condition for the next backpackers, take only pictures and leave only footprints.

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