If you are new to backpacking in the wilderness, just like the Scout motto “be prepared”. There is more planning your wilderness hike than picking your route, a tent and sleeping bag and heading down the trail.
If you are well prepared for any situation you and your family back home will all feel much better. Sheri and Randy Propster, experts from Backpacker Magazine who hike the Applachian Trail frequently provide some tips.
You want to pack light but not skimp on what you need.
“We talk about essentials, having things that are going to help us out. Having fire, having a whistle, high calorie snack,” Randy explained.
Research your destination, find out the rules and regulations, and talk to the staff at local camping stores.
You’ll need layers of clothes and shelter like a tent.
“Staying hydrated is essential. Having appropriate nutrition is essential. And we’re also going to think about the fact that we’re going outside and it’s going to get dark at night,” Randy said.
A head lamp is a good source of illumination.
“Not only do you have super bright lighting but it pops out and creates a tent lantern,” Randy said.
Bring sun and skin protection, maps and a compass you now how to use, along with tools and a repair kit.
Plan for an emergency.
“First aid kit. Definitely do not go without a first aid kit,” Randy said.
And if your emergency is more serious than a first aid kit can handle you need a way to communicate.
“You definitely want to be able to bring attention to yourself, find a way to get help. As simple as a whistle, as advanced as a satellite communicator,” Randy said.
When you have those backpacking essentials packed and ready to go, leave a little room for little luxuries.
“I have little tiny things that I always pack. I always have a little comb and some q-tips and some chocolate, just some personal luxury items,” Sheri said.
Another luxury item you might want to make room for in your backpack is a camera to record all those wonderful hiking and camping experiences….More at Before backpacking be prepared – WBIR-TV
As the writers state you want this to be an enjoyable journey so include those little luxuries, perhaps a lightweight book. Some of my friends like to take a special treat such as marshmallows for the evening campfire. Yes they are a little bulky but everyone appreicates them when you pull them out of your pack. Obviously there are more compact food items available.
They also mention to plan for emergencies. Today many people bring a cell phone if you are in an area with reception. Personally I have never found whistles to work well as on one recent hike our group got separated and we could not hear the whistle even though they were not that far away.
In some regions you may want to carry bear spray, particularly this year as they seem to be more active even in areas they haven’t been seen for years.
Regarding shelters lightweight bivy tents are popular and hammock tents or bivy sacks are favored by others. These items will not take much space in your backpack. For me my luxury item is a slightly larger tent that I can sit up in comfortably.