First Backpacking Trip Tips

News & Tips: First Backpacking Trip Tips

I think many people shy away from backpacking because they fear that it will be a Bataan Death March. It can be, but it doesn't have to be.

Don't plan on doing a 15-mile hike on your first venture. For the first time, just go on a 1-3 mile trip. Break in slow. I've given you a short list of what gear but the actual list is 10 times that long. And even if I listed out every single item that I think is important you may have want other items. How do you know where to go? Grab a Forest Service map and pick out a spot.

What do you want to do? I like to go fly fishing. You may rather go hiking, mountain climbing or exploring old mines.

I always camp by a stream so I don't have to pack in water. That way I have water to drink, cook with and do dishes. Don't forget to take a camera to preserve memories.

Get to your campsite before dark so you have time to set up your camp tent, gather firewood, cook dinner and relax. I've hiked into camp in the dark plenty of times by myself but it's not fun. Gee, one time hiking out the edge of the trail gave way and I fell off the trail and was hanging on the edge. Luckily I had just passed a guy and he ran up and grabbed my pack and pulled me back up on the trail. That wouldn't of been fun in the dark. Wasn't too much fun in the daylight!  

If you're not a flyfisherman you have to pick it up. Backcountry flyfishing is the ultimate. It's the way it's meant to be. If you're up high the creeks may be narrow so in some cases a 7-foot fishing rod is the ticket. Always pack in two fly rods in case you break one. That'd ruin a trip.

Where I backpack in Idaho the weather will be hot during the day and semi warm at night so I don't have to pack a big sleeping bag. Due to weight and space you'll usually end up wearing the same clothes on the trip so don't pack a new set for every day.

It's fun to cook over a fire but if there's a fire ban, I'll take in a Jetboil Flash backpacking stove. They're also nice for hunting. With a Jetboil you can whip out a hot lunch when you're up in the mountains elk hunting in subzero weather.

Dipping water out of the river for morning coffee is a must. Half the time I'll take a pack of motel instant coffee but if you're a coffee connoisseur, Jetboil also make a coffee press attachment so you can enjoy gourmet coffee while in the backcountry.

I love setting around the fire at night eating s'mores. That's primo time to shoot the bull with your kid and do some major bonding. Don't be scared. Grab a pack and get out and explore the backcountry. It's a low cost, fun adventure.