The Beginner’s Guide to: Backpacking

This guide is for those who are preparing for their first 1-2 day backpacking trip.

This adventure is what inspired my entire ideas for this blog. It all started with my younger brother wanting to hike the tallest peak in our home state. As someone who enjoys hiking, this seemed like a great idea. After searching backpacking for beginners for hours, I packed my bag for what seemed like a fun and relaxing walk through the woods. Fast forward about 40 hours and I am dying on the couch with my bloody, swollen feet propped up, watching Netflix, and chugging water. It was an amazing experience and I cannot wait to go again, but we definitely have some things that we would have done differently.

Here is our guide to what you need for your first time backpacking:

Photo by Stefano Photography from Pexels
  1. WATER – We were severely under-prepared with our plan for water. Luckily, my brother had brought a water bladder with a gravity filter. We did not start with it filled, which was a huge mistake! Ten miles later, we finally came to a point where we could fill it and we were desperate at that point. We found ours on Amazon and it worked perfectly: Waterdrop Personal Water Filter Straw with Gravity Water Bag, Portable Camping Filtration System, Drinking Water Purifier for Emergency Hiking Travel Backpacking
  2. Camp Shoes – This is an item that neither of us thought to pack and I did not remember reading about when I was preparing. These can be any kind of sandal or comfortable shoe for you to wear around camp. You will be happy you have them after hours of walking on rugged terrain.
  3. Trash Bags – My mom called me at last second and told us to throw in a trash bag and I am thankful that she did. We ended up laying them on the ground at night to insulate from the ground since it was chilly. In the morning, we put our dirty clothes in them in our bag. You just never know what you’ll use them for.
  4. A Decent Sleeping Pad – We brought a sleeping pad that reminded me of a very thin pool raft. We were optimistic since it was light, which is a big deal in the backpacking world! I actually got a new one for Christmas because ours were so uncomfortable! If you value sleep and can only spend a decent amount of money on one thing. THIS IS IT. Here is the link to the new ones that we just got: WELLAX UltraThick FlexFoam Sleeping Pad – Self-Inflating 3 Inches Camping Mat for Backpacking, Traveling and Hiking – 3inch Thickness for Better Stability & Support
  5. Sleeping Bag – We just used random sleeping bags that my mom had lying around and they worked, but if you think you will go more than once, buy a light one that can be compacted.
  6. A Backpack – I bought an actual backpack for backpacking during an REI sale. My brother used a backpack that we had from our trip to Europe. At the end of the day, we were both in about the same as far as level of comfort and weight. We went for two days and both had plenty of supplies. This is where any more experienced backpacker would probably disagree with me. If you can find one inexpensively and think you will continue going, get a real backpack. If you are testing the waters and this is likely a one time thing, you can probably get away with a larger backpack if you already have one.
  7. Shower Wipe – I love being outdoors, but I also really enjoy showering after. After day one, it felt amazing to go into my tent, and just be able to wipe some of the dirt and sweat off. If you are the same way, I would say go ahead and bring a few. Any kind will work, but these are the ones that I brought: Ultra-Thick Rinse Free Bathing Wipes (12 pack)
  8. Entertainment – Again, probably not a necessary item, but we brought a bottle of wine each. We had so much fun hanging out by the fire and drinking wine from the bottle. But, then came the realization that we had to carry the empty bottles back. Going back to the importance of space and weight when packing. If you want alcohol, bring something in a lighter or burnable vessel. It has to be worth carrying in both directions before you can dispose of it.

Although, I have already mentioned the most unexpected or important things that we needed, here is a list of all the items that we had with us:

  1. Backpack
  2. Hiking Boots
  3. Sleeping Bag
  4. Sleeping Pad
  5. Water Bladder
  6. Water Bottle
  7. Trash Bags
  8. Wine
  9. Change of clothes
  10. Socks
  11. Fire starter
  12. First Aid Kit
  13. Bug Spray
  14. Food
    1. S’mores supplies
    2. Slim Jims
    3. Homemade pasta
    4. Carrots
    5. Cliff Bars
    6. Apples
    7. Grapes
    8. Peanut Butter
    9. Crackers
    10. Granola
  15. Pocket Knife
  16. Sunglasses
  17. Hat
  18. Sunscreen

Although, I only recommend products that I have used, as an Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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