Beginners guide to backpacking

Beginner’s Guide to Backpacking

There are so many things to consider when planning a backpacking trip.

  • What kind of backpack should I get?
  • Should I take first-aid and bug spray?
  • What amount of water should I bring?

Whether you’re a woman looking for advice on how to plan your first backpacking trip or searching for information on what it’s like being a woman in the wilderness, we can fill you in on all you need to know about planning and packing for the greatest adventure of your life.

Oh and to be clear, by “backpacking” we mean multi-day hiking trips where you carry everything on your back. Not the “college girl backpacking through Europe” type of thing.

Pack a survival kit

As a woman, you might need to pack an extra safety kit in your backpack. It’s easy to overpack and end up carrying unnecessary weight, so consider what you might need in different scenarios before setting out. The following is a basic survival kit that will help keep you safe and comfortable on the trail:

First-aid kit

This should include bandages, gauze pads, and antiseptic wipes for cleaning cuts and scrapes. Consider adding moleskin for blisters, ibuprofen or acetaminophen for pain relief, and antibiotic ointment if you have any cuts or abrasions that could get infected. You also may want to add insect repellent, sunscreen, and lip balm.


If you find yourself lost or injured off the trail, this can be used to signal for help by blowing into it as long as your mouth is clear of obstructions such as foliage or fog. You can also use it to locate other hikers who are lost by walking around with it in your mouth until you hear it echo off rocks or trees in the area; then follow the sound back to its source to find a fellow hiker in need of help.

Flashlight or headlamp

If you plan on backpacking in the dark, add a flashlight or headlamp to your survival kit. The light will allow you to see where you’re going and keep you safe from dangerous animals like snakes, bears, and mountain lions.

Water bottle or hydration bladder

You need water to survive, so put a water bottle or hydration bladder in your backpack. Make sure the container is easy to open and refill when necessary.

How much water should you bring? Well, the rule of thumb is generally 4 cups or 1 liter of water per 2 hours of active hiking. Often trails feature places (streams, wells) where you can refill your water – plan ahead so you can save some load.

Food bars

Food bars or trail mix for energy boosts during hikes or camping trips. You may not always want to cook over an open fire, so it’s a good idea to bring along some food bars for quick snacks or trail mix for long hikes through the woods without access to restaurants or grocery stores.

Firestarter and matches or lighter

Fire is one of the most important parts of surviving in the wilderness. If you get lost, fire can help keep you warm, as well as signal rescuers to your location if they know where you are. It’s also good for cooking and purifying water. Make sure that your survival kit has at least three ways of starting fires, such as matches or lighter fluid, flint and steel, or even a magnifying glass (you never know when it might come in handy).

Make sure you have the right gear

Backpacking requires certain equipment that is specifically designed for outdoor use. Make sure that everything you pack is functional and lightweight enough so that it doesn’t add too much weight to your backpack. You should also make sure that all of your gear fits well so that it doesn’t cause any discomfort while hiking or camping out in the wilds.


A good daypack for hiking will last for years, but an overnight pack is something you should consider replacing every few years. The main thing to look for is comfort and fit (you should be able to fill it up completely without feeling like too much weight is on your shoulders). A high-quality backpack will have lots of pockets and compartments so you can organize everything inside (including water). If it doesn’t come with rain protection, buy a waterproof cover separately or consider buying a new pack altogether.


A good tent should be large enough to fit two people comfortably while still being lightweight enough to not add too much weight to your pack. Look for tents that have extra storage space in case it rains; this will allow you to keep important items dry even if they aren’t waterproofed themselves.

Sleeping bag

Sleeping bags come in different weights (from summer-weight down sleeping bags that weigh just over 2 pounds for women up to winter-weight down sleeping bags that weigh closer to 4 pounds). If you’re going on a trip where temperatures will be below freezing at night, choose an appropriately rated bag with synthetic insulation or down insulation.

Sleeping pad

A sleeping pad will help keep you comfortable at night when sleeping under the stars or in a tent. It also provides insulation from cold ground temperatures and makes it more comfortable to sleep on rocky terrain or hard surfaces.

Camp stove

A camp stove is something that many people use when backpacking because it makes cooking easier than using an open fire or having to boil water in a pot over an open flame. The downside is that they are bulky and heavy, so if space is an issue, then this may not be the best option for you.

Keep your gear light

The best way to keep your gear light is to pack only the essentials. If you have an extra pound or two, there are many ways to cut down on weight while still having fun on the trail. Here are some tips on how to do it:

  • Avoid heavy plastics and metal containers. They add unnecessary weight to your pack, so use lightweight aluminum or plastic containers instead of pots, pans, bowls, and cups that are made from heavier materials like stainless steel or cast iron.
  • Avoid big packs with lots of pockets and compartments. A small backpack that has just enough room for all of your gear is a much better choice than a larger one with extra pockets for storing things like extra clothing, sleeping pads, and other items that you don’t need when hiking in the backcountry.
  • Use a sleeping pad instead of an air mattress if possible so that you can roll it up small enough to fit inside your tent (or even under it). A small self-inflating pad weighs only about 2 pounds — much lighter than an air mattress would be — and will provide more comfort than the ground at night anyway.
  • Bring only one change of clothing per day so that you can wash them in streams or lakes.

Know where you’re going

Before heading out on any trip, you should do some research into what the weather might be like and what kind of terrain you will be walking through. You should also make sure that you know where the nearest hospital is and how long it will take for emergency services to reach you if something goes wrong. This will give you peace of mind and stop any panic attacks when things go wrong.

Plan ahead

Once you know where your trip will take place, start planning. Make sure that all of your equipment is up to date and in good working order before setting off on any lengthy trips. This means checking everything from tents and sleeping bags to clothing for holes or tears in them, which may cause issues later on down the line with rain or cold weather. Also, check that all of your hiking boots are comfortable enough for long days walking around.

Get A Good Pair Of Boots

A good pair of boots is essential when backpacking because they provide stability, comfort, and protection from the elements. They should fit snugly around the ankle and heel while allowing enough room for your toes to move freely. They should also be waterproof and sturdy enough to withstand rough terrain.

We also like hiking sandals but for backpacking we also always bring a pair of boots along.

Get info about permits and passes

Before you head out on the trail, make sure you know what permits and passes you need for your destination. Many national parks charge extra fees for backcountry camping, while some areas require advance reservations or permits for overnight stays in designated campgrounds or trailheads. Some parks allow dispersed camping outside of these designated areas — but others don’t allow it at all.

There are also many national forests that require permits for camping as well, so it’s important to check with each park individually before heading out on your trip. You may also want to consider purchasing an annual pass that will allow you access to all federal lands within a state or region.

Wear The Right Socks

Backpacking socks should be made of synthetic materials like polyester or nylon because they wick away moisture better than cotton. They also have a much longer lifespan than cotton socks, which tend to get holes in them quickly when worn every day. Synthetic socks are also more comfortable and breathable than wool or leather boots, so they’re easier on your feet when hiking all day long through rough terrain.

Invest In Good Hiking Clothes

When it comes to clothing, there are some things that are more important than others. The main thing is to wear layers that let you regulate your temperature easily – especially if you’re going somewhere cold or hot. Cotton is a terrible choice because it absorbs moisture which makes it heavy and uncomfortable when wet. It also takes forever to dry out after being soaked by rain or sweat. Instead, opt for synthetic or wool fabrics which won’t soak up water like cotton does and will dry faster than cotton does too.

How to choose a destination

Choosing a destination is not as simple as it seems. There are many factors to consider, and if you don’t have enough time to plan your trip, it can be very frustrating. However, there are some things you can do to make sure that you will be able to find the right destination for your next vacation.

Decide on a theme

Do you want to see historical sites, enjoy the culture of a place or experience nature in all its glory? Try to focus your trip on one or two of these themes. This will help you narrow down your choices and make sure that each day has something for you.

Make a list of your favorite activities

Are there any activities that you want to do while backpacking? If so, make a list of them and consider destinations that offer them. For example, if you love skiing or scuba diving, then consider going somewhere that offers those activities. If you want to see historical sites, look for countries with famous landmarks or museums.

Make a list of your favorite places

Map out the destinations that best fit your interests. If you love beaches but hate mountains, don’t plan a backpacking trip that includes both. Make sure each destination has at least one thing that appeals to you before booking tickets or making reservations for hotels or hostels.

Map out the destinations that best fit your interests

Now that you have a list of destinations that interest you most, map out each location on a map so that it’s easier for you to visualize how far they are from each other and how long it might take for you to get there by plane or train. This will help give you an idea of which destinations best suit your interests and how long it might take for you to get there if those are two different places.

Don’t hike alone

Hiking alone can be dangerous as well as lonely. If you decide to go solo, at least make sure that you tell people where you are going and when you will be back. If possible, go with someone so that if something happens, there is someone around to help.

There are mountains of information out there about backpacking, let alone the specifics related to each individual trip. However, this guide is meant to get your feet wet, fumbling through the dark toward enlightenment and backpacking mastery.

Hope to see you on the trails soon!

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