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If you are a newbie, nights is good for you to get a trip under your belt. What gear worked. Whether you brought the right amount of food. What pace you like to hike at, etc. If you are more seasoned and have the time off, then consider going for longer. When you plan a backpacking trip, picking a trail can be a little overwhelming with some many awesome places to choose from.

Ask yourself:. Get an idea in your head of what kind of experience you want to have. So you found a trail that looks awesome for the time of year you want to hike. Before you get too excited and start making plans, check to see if a permit is required. Many trails, especially popular trails in National Parks, require wilderness permits that need to be reserved months in advance.

Many of the more popular backpacking trails Grand Canyon, Yosemite, etc are allocated by lottery up to 4 or 5 months in advance. Depending on where you are backpacking, your permit may have additional requirements. If you want company, try to round-up a few friends who want to join you.

Give them a call or put a note out on Facebook. Check to see if there are any Facebook groups in your area for hikers or outdoor enthusiasts. MeetUp can also be a great website as well for finding like-minded friends who love outdoor adventures and trips.


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Are you part of a yoga studio or climbing gym? Those are also great places to meet active people, and maybe you can make a new friend who might be interested. Backpacking alone is an empowering experience and is worth trying at least once. Check out my favorite solo hiking tips here. Do you need plane tickets? A recent study by one of Momondo , which is one of my favorite sites for finding good deals on airfare, determined that 58 days before your intended travel is the cheapest time to buy plane tickets.

My other favorite site for cheap airfare is Southwest Airlines. They offer very competitive prices on flights, have a great rewards program, a no hassle cancellation policy, and you get 2 checked bags for free. If you fly Southwest frequently or want to start flying more, check out my post on how to fly free on Southwest using their credit cards.

Check out our posts on how to save money on road trips and my favorite road trip essentials. Maybe you already have your backpacking gear dialed. Next up are those items, such as your rain jacket or lunch, that you use intermittently or only when you stop and take a break.

These items should be stored on the outside portion of your pack for convenience, but they don't need to be accessible all the time. Take advantage of the outside front-facing stuff pocket, if your pack has one, and the pockets on the top or "brain" of your backpack.

The outside front pocket is often made of a stretchable mesh which is excellent for stuffing items like your camp shoes or your rain jacket. It has the added benefit of being breathable so wet items can dry. Unlike the mesh outer pocket, the brain portion of the backpack is zippered shut and wholly enclosed from the elements. It's a great place to stuff items that need to stay dry like toilet paper and your lunch food. You also can store kitchen items there if you prefer to have your cooking stuff all in one place. It's a great place to stash a headlamp, too.

Lastly, you have those items that you only use while at camp. These less-frequently-used items including your clothing, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, dinner meals, first aid supplies and more.

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You can store these items inside the cavity of the pack since you only need to access them when you call it a day and break for the night. There's more to packing the inside of the pack than just throwing stuff into the backpack and cinching it up. You'll want to pack your mid-to lightweight items at the bottom of the pack.

This gear includes your sleeping bag and sleeping pad which make a great base layer for the rest of your equipment. You then can add the heavier, more rigid items in the middle of the pack, placing them near your back for comfort. Finally, you should top off your backpack with any remaining light gear to balance it off. There is more to packing a backpack than just accessibility. It's crucial to distribute the weight evenly you are carrying so you don't strain your shoulders or back.

In general, you should try to keep the heavy items as close to the center and nearest to your back as possible. You also want to keep things balanced, so you are not lop-sided or top-heavy. Going from the bottom up, here is how you should distribute the weight in your pack:. The bottom of the internal cavity is ideal for your mid to light gear and gear that is bulky. It's also great for items that are not needed until you break for camp.

You'll want to put your clothes, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad at the bottom. It's recommended that you stuff your sleeping bag into a plastic bag or similar waterproof sack to keep it dry.

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You should place your heavy equipment in the middle of your pack. Ideally, you want the heaviest items to sit as close to your back as possible. Keep in mind that you can sometimes feel things that are close to your back so don't put your cooking pot anything with rough edges in that part of the pack.

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Stick to smooth items like your shelter or food bag. The top of the backpack is ideal for mid- to lightweight equipment that you may need to use during the day. It's perfect for snacks, clean socks, layers, sunglasses, sunscreen, and other light gear. Your remaining light equipment and small necessities can go in the external pockets.

Most packs have only a few pockets, so this is coveted space. Pick those items that you use frequently and store them in these easy-to-access storage spaces. After filling up your backpack, you still may have some extra gear that just won't fit inside your pack. These leftovers such as trekking poles, tent poles, and microspikes can be strapped to the outside of your pack.

When you are packing for a thru-hike, don't just throw all your stuff into your pack and hope for the best. You'll want to use some form of organization so you can easily find the items that you need. We recommend using stuff sacks or compression bags to keep similar things together. All your cooking supplies can go in one sack, first aid into another and so on. You can even color code them for convenience. Outside does not accept money for editorial gear reviews. Read more about our policy. Each is a massive commitment, with gear bills in the thousands of dollars and up to six months away from work.

With a little bit of planning and creative preparation, you can easily have the time of your life out there, even if this is your first overnight sojourn. As great as backpacking is, it also comes with certain risks. State and national parks can be great places for beginners: their trails are usually well marked, and their websites offer user-friendly guidelines for new and experienced hikers alike. You can do that as easily in five miles as you can Backpacks come in a variety of sizes, and most are measured in liters; you can probably get away with a backpack in the toliter range for a trip less than four days.

And while some prefer crawling into a tent at night, others prefer to sleep in a bivy sack or hammock.


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  • A reliable headlamp with fresh batteries is also a must, as is a whistle, a waterproof lighter or matches, and a collapsible knife or multitool. When it comes to packing these essentials, play to the engineering of the pack itself.

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    Modern-day backpacks are designed with waist belts that distribute the weight of a pack to your hips and lower body, where our real core strength lies. Keep heavy items, like reserve water, heating fuel, and food, low in the main pouch of the pack, and place light items, like a down coat or sleeping bag, higher in the back. Even the most thoughtfully packed backpack is going to add extra weight and strain to your body. To make sure that body is trail ready, personal trainer and competitive ultramarathoner Crystal Seaver recommends considering a workout strategy that leads with basic cardiovascular conditioning.