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Common Challenges You Are Likely To Face As a First-Time Backpacker

Posted by Josh Gazelka | December 30, 2019

Backpacking in the wild is one of the best ways to experience the natural wonders of the world. It is also one of the few ways that you can get solitude and feel a connection to nature while seeing things that most people do not get to view because of the amount of effort required to get there. Although backpacking is a significant physical challenge, the beautiful ocean vistas, scenic mountain views or sunrises over a volcano make all the effort worth it.

As a result, it is quickly gaining in popularity. In fact, in the calendar year of 2018 in the US, hiking and backpacking attracted more than 13 million people who tried out outdoor activities for the first time.

First Time Backpacking? Here Are Some Hurdles to Look Out For

Backpacking in the wild can seem somewhat daunting if you are a first timer, particularly if you feel that you may hold up the group or not be fit enough to tackle it. However, if you have the right mental and physical preparation as well as appropriate gear, you can easily tackle whatever nature throws at you.

Below are a few tips that will ensure that your first backpacking trip is as enjoyable as possible and that you feel confident in your preparation for your outdoor adventure:

1. Incorrect Footwear

Without a doubt, footwear is the backpacker’s most essential gear. Having the right pair of hiking boots will help you glide down rough terrain with a smile on your face instead of gritting your teeth in agony due to poor choice of footwear. A study shows that 9.15% of hikers suffer ankle sprains, with the majority of incidents blamed on inappropriate footwear. 

When choosing footwear for your backpacking trip, you should forget all about looks, flashy features, numerical sizes or friend recommendations. Instead, what you need to look out for are weight, comfort, durability, water resistance, stability and warmth.

What is most important when purchasing backpacking footwear is to get boots that fit snugly at the heel while giving you plenty of wiggle room for your toes at the front. Try to find a comfortable boot which you can wear without requiring break-in time. The shoe should have good traction as well as a thick, flexible sole that will ensure that you do not feel rocks under your feet.

2. Lack of Physical and Mental Preparation

Long-distance hiking in the outdoors is intense. It is an activity that needs you to train in order to get into optimal physical and mental shape. You not only have to consider what you should bring along for the trip and how to utilize it, but you also need to condition your body and mind for the challenges they are about to face.

The best way to prepare for any physically demanding and mentally draining endeavor is to take part in it. However, the problem that many first-time backpackers face is jumping head-first into a multi-day hike without any prior preparation. If you are nervous about your fitness, then you should do a few days hikes on a nearby trail to build up your strength and confidence.

3. Improper Diet and Failing to Hydrate

To survive the rough and tumble of outdoor living for several days, the most important thing is to stay hydrated and energized. Unlike many first timers, avoid getting to the point where you are extremely hungry and thirsty, since the cornerstone of an enjoyable first backpacking trip is having enough energy to take the next step. Each day, start out with a solid breakfast and carry plenty of lightweight snacks packed in natural sugars and fats that you can nibble on throughout the day.

Nuts and dried fruit are snacks that are not only delicious and will lift your spirits, but also pack plenty of energy for their size and weight. Besides being all natural, they are snacks that are easy for you to chomp down on as you walk. Additionally, these are much preferable to the protein bars that are commonly advertised for outdoor adventures, since the bars are packed with sugar and chemicals.

4. Lack of Frequent Rest Breaks

If you are backpacking in the mountains or in dry conditions, studies show that you need 5 to 10 minutes rest for every 30 minutes of walking. The excitement of being on their first backpacking trip or the fear of holding up the group leads to many people over-exerting themselves. No matter the conditions, you should always try to take a break every hour or so, allowing you to readjust your backpack and hydrate.

Always take the time to sit and take a load off your feet when resting. The Pack Rabbit Backcountry Hauler makes this much easier. What makes this backpack unique is that it is a hunting bag with an attached foldout chair that lets you take a break without removing the backpack from your back. By leaving the bag on and only loosening the shoulder straps and hip belt, the Backcountry Hauler eliminates the struggle to put it back on when you are ready to hit the trail after your rest.

Make Your First Backpacking Trip in the Wild a Memorable One

By making use of all the tips listed above for your first backpacking trip, you should only experience success and have happy memories on return from your adventure. With the right gear and preparation, you should be able to come back from your hike with only great stories that will attract more people to backpacking adventures.

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