Ladies backpacking trip

Backpacking tips and tricks for beginners

Backpacking is a fun way to travel and explore the great outdoors, but it can certainly be intimidating if it’s your first time. Don’t worry, though—with the right preparation and mindset, backpacking can be an unforgettable adventure that will leave you feeling accomplished and connected to nature.

If you’re considering getting into backpacking or are just starting out, we have five easy tips to help beginners feel more comfortable and confident about their first adventure.

Five backcountry camping tips

1. Less is more
When it comes to packing for the backcountry, less is more! While it may be tempting to pack your entire wardrobe for those “what if” situations, trust us when we say it’s better to think ahead and take only what you know you’ll need. By packing light, you’ll not only be able to move with more ease and flexibility on the trail, but also reduce the risk of strain and injury on your body. Plus, having a lighter pack means you can enjoy your surroundings without feeling weighed down by your gear. To help you decide what to pack, we have a compiled a blog for you on what to pack for a backpacking trip.

Uplift’s tip: We recommend bringing versatile hiking clothes that can be worn multiple times and a separate set of clean clothes specifically for sleeping. That way, you can feel refreshed after a long day of hiking and wake up feeling ready to take on the trail again.

2. The art of packing
When it comes to packing for a backpacking trip, a little strategy goes a long way. The weight of your backpack can affect your centre of gravity, which can impact your posture and put added strain on your back and shoulders. By packing strategically and distributing the weight evenly, you can reduce the risk of discomfort, pain, and injury. You can also move more efficiently and better maintain your balance, allowing you to enjoy your hike to the fullest.

Uplift’s tip: Pack heavier items that you don’t need throughout the day at the bottom of your pack, or up against the back of the pack to provide a stable base at your centre of gravity. Things like tents and sleeping bags can also go at the bottom of your pack, while items you need throughout the day, such as sunglasses, snacks, and sunscreen, should be placed at the top of your backpack for easy access.

backpacking trips in the Canadian Rockies

3. A dry hiker is a happy hiker
Damp clothing can be a real bummer on your trip, and it’s enough to make the great outdoors seem not so great. It’s worth taking extra precautions to ensure the things that need to be dry stay dry. We’re very particular about this because getting wet can end a trip due to risk of hypothermia–or the enjoyment of a trip—earlier than needed.

Uplift’s tip: Place all your items that need to stay dry (like sleeping bag and clothing) into a dry bag within your backpack. Building up your backcountry gear takes both time and financial investment, so if you’re new to backpacking and don’t have the budget to invest in a dry bag, a garbage bag will work just fine.

Backpacking in Crowsnest Pass

4. A place for everything and everything in its place
Having items swinging around on your backpack can throw off your balance or pull on your body in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable. Plus, fitting everything neatly inside your backpack means your gear is better protected.

Uplift’s tip: Fitting everything into your backcountry backpack can be a challenging task, but there are strategies that can help you maximize the space and organization of your pack: make a list of necessary items, prioritize the essentials, use compression sacks and, over the long term, invest in light and compact gear.

Backpacking Trip

5. Start small
So, your backpacking gear is ready to go? It’s tempting to tackle the awe-inspiring and challenging trail on your bucket list—we get it! But when you’re first starting out, it’s best to choose an easier route.

Uplift’s tip: We recommend choosing a backpacking route that’s about 8 to 10 kilometres long with 300 to 500 metres in elevation for a first-time backpacker. This might not sound like a lot, but backpacking is more difficult than it looks! Many first timers may not realize just how much the extra weight can impact their experience on the trail. Even a few extra pounds can make a significant difference in your hiking speed and endurance.

Pack your bags and hit the trail
When it comes to backpacking, the best way to learn is by doing. As you gain experience, you’ll become more efficient and effective at packing, you’ll learn to anticipate challenges and plan accordingly, and you’ll become more attuned to your own physical capabilities. Over time, you’ll develop your own unique backpacking style, tailored to your individual needs and priorities. While reading articles and watching videos about efficient packing strategies and gear selection can be helpful, the best way to truly learn is by hitting the trail.

For more detailed backcountry camping and backpacking strategies, sign up for our Intro to Backpacking course or join us on one of our multi-day backpacking trips, where a professional guide will walk you through what to pack and how to do it efficiently. Book your spot today and get ready to experience the beauty and thrill of exploring the South Canadian Rockies on foot!

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