Backpacking can be exciting but also very intimidating for those just starting out.  Here are some basic topics to help you prepare for your first backpacking trip. 


Picking a Destination

When picking a destination for your first backpacking trip you want to make sure and start simple.  Pick a hike that is within your hiking capabilities (do not forget to account for elevation gain).  Another important thing to think about is how many nights you want to backpack for.  When going out on your first backpacking trip make sure and pick a trip that is doable and not too long (1-2 nights is the perfect length for your first backpacking trip). Also, remember to look at where the trip starts and ends.  If it ends in a different location make sure to figure out transportation to help you get back to your car such as shuttle services, or bring a second car for a shuttle. Finally, make sure and determine if the trail you are looking at hiking needs permits and if there are any regulations the area that you need to know.

Essentials to Prepare

Planning your Food and Water:

Water is one of the most important things that you need to make sure that you have enough of. The amount of water you will need to bring depends on if there will be any water sources along your planned route. Generally you'll want at least 2-3 liters of water a day.  

When planning for water you need to make sure and know where your water source will be while on your backpacking trip. You also will need to decide on how you would like to clean your water. There are a few choices you can choose from with pros and cons for each. The basic three options are iodine tablets, pumps, and SteriPENS.

For your first time backpacking it is better to be on the safer side with your food.  You don’t want to pack too much food because it can be extra weight that is not needed but not packing enough food is worse. 

Gear to Pack:

If you are curious about what items to pack for you backpacking trip please look at our post with a list of items to bring with you backpacking.

Getting Ready

Making sure that you are physically ready for your first backpacking trip is very important. It is very different hiking with a fully packed backpacking pack than a small daypack. This means that you need to make sure that your body is prepared for the extra weight. There are a few ways to do this: hit the gym for some weighted exercises, or (if you have the ability to) practice day hikes with you backpack fully packed. This also allows for you to test your gear especially your hiking boots. New hiking boots can cause blisters which makes 

  • Test our your gear (that includes your shoes)
  • Take your backpack on short hikes to get used to the weight
  • Check the weather the day before your trip.

How to Pack:

Packing for your first trip? Or maybe you are a seasoned hiker, check out our guide to properly choosing a backpack that is right for your trip and how to optimize and load it for a successful backcountry experience in our blog - HOW TO PACK A BACKPACKING BACKPACK


In this modern time we always have our phones on us but assume you will not have cell phone reception while on your backpacking trip so that you have a back up plan. This plan could include having a compass and/or a topographic map of the area.  Another important part is to be prepared with First Aid Kit in your backpack incase you you sustain an injury on your trip. Finally, know the wildlife around you.  This includes both knowing what precautions you need to take for the animals around you (example: keeping food away from animals or preparing for bugs in the area) but also what poisonous plants and what to do if you if you are affected by them.

Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace is a great initiative that is very important to consider repackaging your food to minimize waste and make it easier to carry out all your trash. This allows for the beautiful area that you decide to explore to be preserved for others enjoyment as well.  

     Leave No Trace’s 7 Principles:

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Related Trips

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