Friday, June 19, 2015

Backpacking for camping: a beginner’s guide

I have been doing backpacking for last 5 years or so. I have learnt everything through hit and miss method, so I guess my way of backpacking is not conventional but it is solid. Moreover, I always travel solo, even in solo camping trips, I find it extremely enjoyable, though many times I find it difficult in simple things like camp fire, food preparation etc. 

Before you start your camping trip to wilderness, always remember the following ten essentials:

1. Navigation (map and compass)
2. Sun protection (sunglasses and sunscreen)
3. Insulation (extra clothing)
4. Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)
5. First-aid supplies
6. Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candles)
7. Repair kit and tools
8. Nutrition (extra food)
9. Hydration (extra water)
10.Emergency shelter

Backpacking with a partner

I’ve never ventured in with any partner, but I recommend for the beginner to find an experienced or at least sensible partner. If you have a knowledgeable partner, you will enjoy the experience; also you can understand many aspects of backpacking easily. A solo trip is always kind a boring venture, especially if you are seasoned for solo things.

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Also, for trekking, you can initially start with a group. There are many adventurous group, conducting trekking round the year. You just have to spend a little extra money and buy peace of mind. 

Pick the right destination for backpacking

For a beginner, one night camping or maximum two nights can be overwhelming experience. don’t venture into extremely rough terrain at first, and try to remain close with civilization. You can get trip information in guidebook, blogs or ask your well-traveled friends. 

How to choose your backpack gear

  • For the first time it is natural to carry lots of items, but after certain experiences in camping, you will automatically understand what you need or not. If you are confused with backpacking essentials,  check with 10 essentials mentioned above. It is best to avoid laptop or any expensive gadgets with it. Personally, I feel wilderness has its own music and it’s very odd to listen to music during camping trip.
  • Do not carry lots of books (generally I did this mistake earlier). If you are a book lover, carry one book because I am sure you won’t time to read things because camping is not enjoyment, it’s a lot of work and within those odd jobs, you find the pleasure.
  • If you are camping for one day, you shouldn’t carry stove or anything. Packaged food is enough to satisfy the hunger. However, if you want to add some zing in camping, you can carry a frying pan and make your own food with the help of wood and twigs.
  • Your tent occupies lots of space, so carefully select your tent.
  • Carry a knife and whistle.

camping cooking food

Backpacking clothing

• It is better to trek or backpack during summers, so that you needn’t carry winter clothes. However, if you are traveling to mountains, it is recommend to carry some of your woolens.

• Do not carry cotton clothes because it takes a long time to dry. Instead, you can buy some moisture-wicking polyester.

•  Convertible pants are the best thing for backpacking or trekking.

• In winters, carry a fleece and a jacket. In the night especially sometimes it’s too cold, so keep gloves in hand.

• Full or mid-cut boots are conventional choice of backpacking, but many people prefer hiking shoes.
Do not wear cotton socks in hiking. Use woolen or synthetic socks to avoid blisters.

• Bring some sunscreen and hat to cover your head.

• If you are hiking at the rainy season, carry a poncho with you.

Before you go

camping fire

If you are absolutely new without any experience in backpacking, you can practice camping in your backyard. Always inform your guardians or friends before you venture out. Also, contact the ranger office at the wilderness; ask for any permits, trail conditions, animal activities and other basic facts.

SOS – in emergency

Always remember the acronym S-T-O-P.

Stop: There was couple of times when I lost in forests. I simply stopped and sat at a place for a while. It is important to keep yourself assemble at the time of emergency. Don’t panic, don’t unnecessary wander to waste energy and resource. Eat a little and drink water to give you a fresh perspective to assess your situation.

Think: Think closely where you were from you starting your trail. Can to go back to that place? Can you remember landmarks or road trail? If you are confused to go further, it is better to go backward to your trail and start again.

Observe: While hiking in wilderness, always keep your senses alert and see things very closely.
Observe every trail very closely, keep your landmark while walking like creating signs on trees or create structure of rocks. 

Plan: Always plan your hiking in wilderness. If you are lost in wilderness, don’t panic but to create plans to get out of it. Check your available resources, your food, water etc. and then create a plan. Even if you are hiking alone, say the plan loud as you pretend to explain to somebody. 

Hike smart, hike happy
  • I can’t recommend anybody to hike alone, especially if you are a beginner. Always team up with at least one experienced hikers. Always remember “what if?”. So, prepare yourself in that way what if you are late? What if you are injured? What if you are lost?
  • Navigation skills are important. Buy a compass, a road map and learn how to use. You can find YouTube videos where you can learn how to use compass.
  • Finally, hiking is a fun, an education and an adventure. It is not a party, so don’t bring stuff that intoxicate and create a danger for your whole trip.
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