by Diane Spicer
Backpacking essentials for beginners.
Ah, those words take me back to 1971, when I started backpacking.
Essentials for beginning backpackers were really basic back then.
Learning how to backpack was simply a matter of trial and error with some basic hiking camping equipment:
Thank goodness technology has gotten us to a much better (easier, safer) place for a newbie backpacker!
If you're just getting started, you have a vast array of gear to choose from.
But maybe it's too vast.
As in "Where do I start finding best backpacking tips?"
You're probably looking for an outline of backpacking essentials, and I'm just the woman for the job! I've been doing this since forever!!
Let's break this into 3 "rounds" of backpacking advice:
Add it all up, and how to get ready for a backpacking trip will be manageable and maybe even fun.
Think about your daily life: food & water, shelter, comfort.
Now think about your first backpacking trip - you're going to need those same things, except you're going to have to carry all of it (or use a llama, mule, horse, or trail buddy to help you).
Which means you'll need a sturdy backpack, and sturdy boots to help your body bear the weight of all of your food, water, shelter, and other gear.
Tip: Stick with reputable gear manufacturers.
What you need are these essentials, in a quick list (click links for detailed information):
2. Water treatment equipment and transport
Don't forget mosquito repellent!
You might also need a bear canister or other bear resistant food storage option, depending on where you decide to backpack.
And a backpacking pillow could spell the difference between restless and deep sleep in your tent.
To dig deeper into gear and how to backpack, explore these ideas.
When it comes time to pack up all of that gear, read about packing a backpack.
An example of the detailed advice you'll find:
Read these 40 backpacking comfort ideas.
If you don't even know what questions to ask, use the search box at the top of the page to find information on this website.
This is a journey of discovery - enjoy it!
The best backpacking gear can only get you so far down the trail.
What's in your head is just as important as what's in your pack.
A great time on the trail boils down to good gear + lots of knowledge.
The way to gather those things?
Maybe you should start with a few simple overnight hiking trips or a long weekend, to give yourself plenty of time to develop a strong skill set.
Or cultivate friendships and trail time with veteran hikers.
But there's one more essential ingredient for feeling great on your backpacking trip!
What's that essential item?
Who wants to be crusty and smelly on the trail?
OK, who wants to be less crusty and smelly on the trail?!
If you said ME!, read this.
This is plenty of information to get you started on learning how to backpack.
As a beginner, please don't get overwhelmed by how much there is to learn. Forty five years later, I'm still learning how to backpack!
Repeat this process over and over again.
Here's an extra dose of encouragement if you're testing the backpacking waters as an older backpacker:
I'll leave you with these "Fast Start" tips:
1. Join a hiking group and learn from the veterans.
2. Take classes from local community colleges or a hiking organization.
3. Find a hiking mentor and watch her like a hawk!
4. Find a hiking buddy and learn together.
5. Explore the Hiking For Her website thoroughly, and send me your questions.
6. Join our Over Forty Hiker private community.
This page has given you all of the fundamentals.
Now you have to plan for a long term commitment to this wonderful sport of hiking.
Backpacking Essentials For Beginners
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Photo credits: All photos on this website were taken by David Midkiff or Diane Spicer.
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