A Beginner’s Guide to Wilderness and Backcountry Hiking Prep

Lifestyle

Hiking is one of the best ways to get to know an area, no matter if you’re exploring woodland or rural areas. However, both one-day trips and multi-day adventures require plenty of gear which will keep you comfortable and safe. Nature is unpredictable and you must anticipate all sorts of situations—it’s better to come prepared than to regret your decision to hit the wilderness. If this is your first hiking trip, here’s how to prep for your adventure. 

Plan your trip 

It’s good to be flexible on your hike, but some planning is still necessary. Choose a fun route, check whether you need permits and try to get a hold of trail maps (one with camps, water sources and other key locations). It’s also a great idea to inform people staying at home that you’ll be hiking in nature, so in case you get in danger, you know there will be someone looking for you. Additionally, learn the principles of Leave No Trace initiative so you and others that come after you can enjoy nature in its original state.  

Get GPS 

Even if your trail is pretty visible and well-marked, you still might want to have a proper way of navigation with you. You can download GPS and compass apps to your phone and pack a battery-operated charger to keep your phone full of juice. These apps will keep you on track and allow you to plan your route and mileage (expect to cover 5 to 10 miles every day, depending on the terrain and interest points). 

Pack your backpack

Photo by S&B Vonlanthen on Unsplash

This item will be your best friend during your hike. Most lightweight packs can fit all of your essentials and stay around 40 pounds. When it comes to clothing, hikers are usually satisfied with hiking pants, synthetic shirt, a hoodie, waterproof jacket, a pair of underwear and socks for each day and some high-quality hiking boots. If you’re hiking in colder areas, you’ll also need a hat, gloves and long underwear for extra warmth and protection. Staying overnight? A 3-season tent, a sleeping bag and a sleeping mat are essential. 

Bring safety gear

Safety should always be your priority, so make sure not to leave without a good first-aid kid packed with things for wounds and cuts, medication, ointments and other gear. You will also need a reliable knife or two. Basic knives are good, but if you need to handle something with one hand or if you find yourself in a tricky situation, you’ll need a more serious knife. Luckily, practical automatic knives will come to your rescue no matter if you need to cut rope, prepare food or even defend yourself from attack. These are also small and discrete and can fit into any pocket or get attached to your belt. A headlamp, matches and some duct tape are also essential. 

Rope is key

Photo by Will O on Unsplash

This is an item many people forget to bring on their hiking trip and regret leaving at home very soon. Having some rope with you can make your trip much safer and more comfortable. Rope can be used for hanging things out of reach of wild animals, drying clothes, building shelter, procuring food, first aid, rescue and even starting a fire, so having a few feet of rope is a very smart decision. Nylon rope is a great choice since it’s durable, light and easy to secure. 

Don’t forget to eat and stay hydrated 

Hiking is hungry and thirsty work, so make sure to keep your energy up by staying hydrated and well-fed. Aside from your planned meal breaks, you might also want to bring granola bars, trail mix, beef jerky, dried fruit and some chocolate—these are good things to pack for a short trip. If you’re taking a longer trip and need to cook, look into lightweight camping stoves which will come in handy for preparing hotdogs, frying meat and roasting marshmallows. When it comes to water, make sure to carry at least 32 ounces of water with you at all times, but also keep a filter in your backpack so you can purify water in case you run out. 

Hiking is a healthy, relaxing and fun activity that will make you fall in love with nature, but only if you prepare well. Use these tips for your next hiking adventure and you’ll have the time of your life. 

 

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Claire Hastings
Claire Hastings is a design student, wanderer, and a writer. She writes as long as she can remember, and she is very passionate about fashion, running, other cultures, and her cat.
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