Are you thinking about finally taking that hiking trip or backpacking trip? Maybe you read (or watched) Wild and you want to go out, or you have some time off and thought about exploring wilderness. Backpacking across the country, no matter where you are walking, it a serious think to consider and requires you to have some serious discussions with yourself about whether or not you are ready for it.
Backpacking is different from going somewhere new in a plane or a car – you can’t just decide you want to leave. Think frankly about these signs:
Signs a Backpacking Trip is a Good Idea
You Enjoy Hiking
When you take a backpacking trip, you are going to hike. Make sure that you enjoy going for a few nights or at least a day hike before you decide to take a longer backpacking trip. Even if you are in shape, this is extremely different. There are wild animals out there, dirt, bugs, and a lack of cell reception.
Hiking is far more mental than it is physical at times. Make sure that you enjoy everything that comes along with it or you might find yourself stuck.
Once you have done a few day hikes or a couple overnight hikes, see how you feel. Your feet will be sore, you will have itchy mosquito bites, and you will be sweaty. You are ready if you still look forward to the next time you get to hit the trails.
You Know What You Need and You Have It
Backpacking isn’t really something you can decide to do at the last minute. You have to purchase expensive gear that will help to keep you alive and safe. You will carry everything you need with you, so a backpack is required. In that backpack, you will need everything from freeze dried food to a sleeping bag to a first aid kit. Going to your local Walmart and purchasing a few things and throwing them into a duffle bag isn’t enough time to prep.
If you think this is a one time thing, you might want to just borrow someone else’s stuff. If not, you are better off buying high quality gear that will stand up to whatever you put it through.
Make sure to think about the other gear you’ll need as well, gear that is specific to wear you are hiking.
You Have Mentally Prepared
Sure, carrying a heavy bag on your back is tough and you need to prepare for that. However, there are many other mental things you’ll need to overcome. You have to be okay with no cell service. You have to be okay with eating food that isn’t the tastiest. You have to be okay with darkness or thunderstorms when all you have is a tent to keep you safe.
Mental preparation is one of the most important factors in getting ready for a backpacking trip or a hike.
You Know Where You Are Going
You know how many miles you want to walk. You have printouts of the maps. You know what you will encounter. You know how many miles you need to walk in a day. You have talked to anyone who hiking with you. There is so much you need to know – once again, you can’t just wake up one day and decide to go on a hike.
You’re a Little Terrified
It is okay to be nervous, this just shows that you are prepared for what you could encounter. If you are overconfident, that is when you end up stuck in the mud and need a pick-up truck to pull you out.
Going on a backpacking trip can be one of the best things you will do in your life. However, you have to make sure you are ready for it or it will be one of the worst things in your life. Do not go because your friends or significant other wants to do it – you can sit some things out. Don’t go because you think it will get you into shape or you will be in pain. Finally, do not go if you only want to spent time outdoors. If that is the case, put a tent in your backyard.