When I talk to someone for the first time about the idea of backpacking, they either love it or hate it. Those that fall into the category of "love it" have never had a sour experience with camping, while those that fall into the "hate it" category tend to have had some horrible childhood experience that they just can't get over.
For those of you who might fall into the latter category, this one is for you.
Whatever cold, wet, hot, sweaty, uncomfortable memories you have from your childhood that are preventing you from experiencing the backcountry, I want you to do your best to forget them. I want you to understand that whoever took you on that outing probably didn't know what they were doing and likely wasn't thoughtful about the gear, the place, the timing, and the methodology of the experience.
I'm telling you right now, I've been there. I remember those gross old tents that smelled terrible and the feeling that I just wanted to go home. There's good news for you though, gear has come a long way, and believe it or not, backpacking is far more comfortable than what you think it is.
Backpacking is NOT car camping. It is NOT complicated. It is NOT miserable if you plan it out well enough. And it is NOT something you should miss out on.
One of the biggest mistakes I see people make with backpacking is one or more of the following.
- Going too far and too fast
- Not eating or drinking enough
- Carrying things that aren't meant for backpacking
- Carrying too much gear
- Not bringing the right gear
- Heading out in bad weather
- Wearing the wrong shoes
- Not having a pack that fits
That's just the tip of the iceberg. Any one of those items can ruin a trip and make your life miserable.
I know this is going to sound dumb, but check out my new list of things that can make your experience backpacking better. It might look familiar...
- Travel an a leisurely pace and don't make your destination somewhere that will take 6 hours to get to.
- Eat and drink every hour on the hour. Use snack times to rest.
- Bring gear that was meant for backpacking. Borrow from a friend if you need to.
- Don't bring extra clothes you won't use.
- Make sure you have what you need to be comfortable. i.e. sleeping pad, sleeping bag, shelter, et.
- Plan your trip during a nice weekend. If it's raining or too cold, don't go unless you like that kind of thing.
- Wear some trail running shoes. They're super comfortable and won't beat your feet up.
- Make sure the pack you're using fits you and has all the features it's suppose to have. Make sure it doesn't have any broken buckles, rips, tears, or is meant for someone taller or shorter.
Here's the thing. Backpacking ISN'T supposed to be miserable. It's supposed to be something that reconnects you with nature, builds you up, and gives you confidence. If you're having a different type of experience, email me and I'll help you out.