Backpacking trips are undoubtedly growing more popular with each passing year. In fact, approximately 38.05 million people went on a hiking or backpacking trip between 2013 and 2014 in the United States. But if your interest in wilderness travel has just become piqued, you certainly aren’t alone. It’s never too late to try a national park or wilderness area backpacking trip! Whether you choose to go with a wilderness outfitting company on guided tours or opt for a family trip on your own, there are some typical mistakes novices tend to make. You’ll want to avoid these in order to remain safe and get the most out of your trip. Here are five of the most common mistakes:
- Not looking at gear before the trip
Don’t make assumptions about your backpacking gear. Even if you thinkyou know how it works, you’ll want to test and inspect everything thoroughly before heading out. Be sure to read all instruction manuals carefully and ask questions if you aren’t certain about how to operate your gear. Waiting until you get into the wilderness to test out your camp stove or give the tent a trial run can make for a potentially dangerous situation. You could be left without shelter, water, heat, or food. Don’t take the chance! It won’t take long to familiarize yourself with everything — but do so from the comfort of your home.
- Overestimating how much you can carry
Beginners have a tendency to over-pack. It’s understandable — you don’t want to forget something that could be very important. But even an extra five pounds of weight can make a huge difference. Leave the canned foods at home and opt for lightweight sustenance on your backpacking trips. You probably don’t need a big coffee mug, another pair of shoes, or that additional change of clothes. This is not the time to test your feats of strength. Pack only what is essential, and what you can feasibly carry.
- Underestimating Mother Nature
Don’t discount the power of nature! If you’re caught in extreme weather, your main goal is to stay safe. In the event of a lightning storm, take shelter in the valley, preferably in continuous woods in flat terrain. Bring rain protection and beware of high winds. Exercise extreme caution when crossing rivers (or avoid doing so if at all possible). And above all, take the weather forecast into account. Do not plan backpacking travel when storms are predicted.
- Relying on technology for help
In today’s world, many folks rely on our phones and navigation systems to know where they are and where they’re going. But when you’re in the wilderness, GPS and cell services can be unreliable, at best. In the event of an emergency, you may not be able to call for help or let anyone know where you are. Prepare for your trip as if you won’t be able to have a cell phone at all. Bring guidebooks, maps, compasses, as well as emergency and first-aid kits, to help you along the way. And know how to use them!
- Failing to refuel and hydrate
When you’re hiking, you may not realize how much energy and water you’re losing. That’s why it’s so important to hydrate properly before, during, and after your excursions. When you arrive back at camp, make sure you eat a good meal and snack throughout the day. Though you may feel you’re too exhausted to cook, it’s imperative to refuel your body in order to make it through the rest of your trip.
If you want to start taking backpacking trips, make sure you’re prepared! Our guided tours through our national parks and Wilderness areas can allow you to see our country in a while new way while remaining safe and gaining knowledge. Contact us today to find out more.