8 Mistakes You Might Make on a First Backpacking Trip – Gossamer Gear

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If there’s one factor that may be assured in your first backpacking journey, it’s that you just’ll inevitably make no less than one “mistake.” By the tip of a primary journey into the backcountry, all of us normally depart with some new data and ideas on what we’d do in a different way subsequent time. Even our model ambassadors, who’ve logged 1000’s of miles by means of the wilderness, needed to begin someplace.

It’s close to not possible to utterly ace your first journey. In actuality, you’ll doubtless maintain choosing up new ideas and tips on every trek you are taking. However, one method to mitigate dangers and put together the perfect you’ll be able to is to study from others’ errors. We requested our model ambassadors to share their experiences from early backpacking journeys and what their fundamental takeaways have been.

We hope these widespread first backpacking journey errors assist as you propose your first outing. If you have already got a number of journeys beneath your belt, we hope they offer you a pleasant chuckle as you bear in mind your personal beginner fails. And, if you already know somebody who’s going on their first journey quickly, we hope you’ll share these with them to allow them to study from our previous foils.

1. Choose Your Clothes Wisely

Many first-time backpackers assume they’ll want extra clothes than they really do. It’s widespread for freshmen to pack a change of garments for day by day they’re out. In actuality, you’re going to be pungent it doesn’t matter what, so it is sensible to put on your garments greater than as soon as, which helps lower extra weight in your bag. 

For your climbing garments, select an artificial fiber, which can nonetheless insulate when moist (not like cotton), or merino wool, which has the additional benefit of not absorbing as a lot stench. Have a set of climbing garments that can get soiled and smelly alongside the way in which after which a clear base layer you can turn into at evening. Read our information on chilly climate layering for hikers for extra path vogue ideas.

“On my first ever backpacking trip in 2006, to Cumberland Island, Georgia, I packed new clothes for every day. And not just any clothes, I had a pair of jeans for the second day on my back. My pack was enormous and so heavy, making walking all day very tiresome.” – Steven “Twinkle” Shattuck

2. Leave the Full-Size Toiletries at Home

Every ounce provides up in your pack, and also you’ll doubtless really feel it while you’re trudging up a hill within the sizzling afternoon solar. There’s no want to hold a full-size deodorant stick, tube of toothpaste, hairbrush, or bottle of sunscreen. For the toiletries that you just actually assume you’ll want on path, get trail-sized variations or repackage gadgets into smaller containers.

But it’s not simply toiletries that get freshmen. We’ve all seen a beginner (or have been that individual!) who’s carrying a number of books, Costco-sized baggage of path combine, a number of battery packs, forged iron skillets, or different superfluous and heavy gadgets. As you pack in your first backpacking journey, simply do not forget that every thing you pack provides up. Do no matter you’ll be able to to lighten your load whereas retaining what you want for security and fundamental consolation.

“My first backpacking trip was a two-day, one-night quickie. For some reason, I was pretty insistent on needing two full hiking outfits: one for the first day and one for the second day! Yes, not just an extra bra and underwear, but an extra pair of hiking pants and an extra shirt. And this is on top of my sleeping base layers as well! I also distinctly remember bringing a full (large) tube of sunscreen, a full-size toothbrush, and a stick of deodorant. Let’s just say, I think the 3,000 feet of gain in 3 miles would have been slightly less exhausting if those unnecessary extras weren’t in the pack. Because let’s be real: I was still stinky even with new clothes and deodorant!” – Emily “Squishy” Schrick

3. Pick the Right Backpack

Speaking of weight, it’s additionally widespread to be offered on a backpack that, by itself, weighs excess of it must. Many newbie backpackers will go to a widely known out of doors retailer and ask to get fitted for a pack, solely to depart with a mannequin that weighs greater than 4 kilos by itself and hosts many options that aren’t crucial for his or her journey. 

Wherever doable, ask backpacking mates for his or her suggestions on packs. See in the event you can check out a light-weight pack to scale back your load. A extra snug backpack in your first journey may simply promote you on the expertise for the long term. Our Mariposa 60 Backpack is ideal for freshmen, because it gives the comforts many people crave whereas on path, has sufficient house for gear as you proceed to refine your package, and nonetheless weighs lower than two kilos.

“My mistake was honestly just using the wrong pack. I had a Gregory backpack (because that’s what was available to me at REI) that weighed too much just on its own, and a regular car camping sleeping bag that I secured to my pack on the outside—so, it threw off my center of gravity completely. It was my first big backpacking trip and I had no idea about ultralight backpacking or even the consideration to trim down on weight. After that trip, I learned more about lighter gear, and ways to lighten your pack. The pack itself weighed over 4 lbs without anything in it! Totally unnecessary. And that’s where I fell in love with Gossamer Gear packs—where every piece of material on the pack had a specific function and had been thoughtfully placed to minimize weight.” – Michelle Zhang

4. Test Your Gear Before Your Trip

Being within the wilderness in a single day in the event you’ve by no means executed it earlier than can typically really feel a bit of annoying. Putting in miles with a full pack in your again may depart you feeling fairly drained by the tip of the day. To decrease pointless frustration, take a look at your gear earlier than you end up drained at your campsite because the solar is setting.

Have you by no means arrange a free-standing shelter earlier than like The One or The Two? Don’t study whereas on path. Set it up in a park or your yard beforehand to ensure you perceive how and to work out any tweaks in your course of. Have you by no means cooked on a camp range earlier than? Boil a number of pots of water earlier than you head out. Testing your gear earlier than your journey will decrease your stress ranges, enable you to determine what you don’t truly must take, and maintain you protected on path when you could depend on your gear probably the most.

5. Break in Your Hiking Shoes Before Your Trip

Even in the event you strive on a pair of path sneakers or climbing boots that really feel snug within the retailer, that doesn’t imply they’re going to robotically be cozy on path. Before you are taking your sneakers on a grueling backcountry journey, take a look at them out on a shorter day hike. See how they really feel going uphill and downhill. Pay shut consideration to any pinch level or sizzling spots.

Some sneakers want a bit of time to loosen up and break in to finest suit your ft. By doing this earlier than your first backpacking journey, you’ll keep away from potential blisters and different foot aches that may spoil a visit quick.

6. Consider Where You Place Gear in Your Pack

How you load your gear into your backpack issues. You want to have the ability to distribute the load evenly so your pack doesn’t really feel off-kilter or dig into your again, shoulders, or hips. 

You’ll additionally wish to think about how simply you’ll be capable of entry your gear throughout the day. You don’t wish to need to take off your pack and unload every thing every time you desire a snack or must seize your pee fabric. That will get previous rapidly for each you and your climbing buddies and may actually sluggish your tempo, providing you with much less time to arrange at camp earlier than sundown.

Put medium-weight gadgets and stuff you don’t want fast entry to on the backside of your pack, corresponding to your sleeping bag and sleeping garments. Heavier gadgets ought to go within the center, like your cook dinner package and meals. Lighter gadgets and people it’s possible you’ll must entry with ease whereas on path ought to go on the highest or in exterior pockets, corresponding to your rain layer, first help package, and water filter.

“When packing for a backpacking trip, the order that you put things in your pack matters! You want to remember to put things like your phone, snacks, GPS, safety kit, and toilet paper closer to the top or outside of your pack so that you can have quick access to those things.” – Zwena Gray

7. Know the Ins and Outs of Pooping on Trail

If you’ve by no means pooped within the woods earlier than, it’s price doing a bit of studying beforehand to ensure you understand how to take action in a accountable manner. Following Leave No Trace principles ensures that we will all maintain utilizing our wild locations with minimal influence. 

You’ll must carry a light-weight trowel to dig a cat gap no less than 200 ft away from any path, campsite, or water supply. You must also carry a waste bag and plan to pack out your rest room paper, as wilderness areas the place it’s okay to bury your rest room paper have gotten more and more uncommon with elevated use. To scale back the quantity of bathroom paper you want, think about some rest room paper substitutes.

Your first path poop might sound intimidating, however that does not imply you need to maintain it. Keeping common whereas on path is essential for staying wholesome.

“First backpacking trip mistake: forgetting to pack toilet paper! Pooping in the woods for the first time is one of the most scary things, but DO NOT HOLD IT IN! Find a pretty spot and pop a squat so that you can have an easeful rest of your backpacking journey. Remember to carry out any items that can’t be buried.” – Zwena Gray

8. Stay Safe and Found

Don’t fear about “over-preparing” in your first backpacking journey. Skipping essential planning duties can result in hassle on path, particularly while you’re nonetheless a novice. Plan for the sudden by following a number of fundamental steps:

  • Always depart your plans with somebody off path, together with when they need to anticipate to listen to from you once more
  • Stick to your plans and keep on path
  • Bring a method for emergency communication, corresponding to an inReach mini
  • Go with somebody who’s a extra seasoned backpacker in your first journey
  • Carry the ten necessities
  • Check the climate forecast for every day you’re out, together with a pair days earlier than and after, in addition to what time dawn and sundown will likely be

“I was very excited about hiking in the Dolomites, fresh from humid South Carolina. Armed with naive confidence, I ignored the moodiness of mountain weather. As the skies grumbled and rain began, I donned just my raincoat, thinking to myself, ‘What’s a little rain? It’ll just add character to the hike, right?’ But within 20 minutes, Mother Nature dramatically flipped the script, plunging me into a full-blown blizzard. There I was, standing in my raincoat, now an iced-over hiker. Things worked out in the end, but the experience highlighted two crucial lessons: 1) the importance of always being responsive for unexpected weather plot twists—and the recognition that waterproof pants should not just be packed, but worn, and 2) the value of well-marked blazes on unfamiliar trails became very clear, guiding me through the sudden whiteout.” – Rochelle “Ruby” Altman

Learn From First Backpacking Trip Mistakes for a Better Hike

We all make errors on our first backpacking journeys. Those missteps are how we study and develop and grow to be higher hikers. But it’s additionally essential to share our tales with others so we will collectively develop our data too.

We hope the following pointers and the reflections from our model ambassadors can assist you put together in your personal first backpacking journey or encourage one in all your pals to go on theirs. We’d additionally love to listen to about your first journeys, each great triumphs and epic fails! Share the enjoyable with us by tagging Gossamer Gear on social media (@gossamergear) and utilizing the hashtag #takelessdomore.

Hungry for extra backpacking gear and planning data? Check out a few of our different articles on the Light Feet weblog:



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