Panorama Ridge - Garibaldi Lake

5 Tips to Make Your Backpacking Trip Epic

There is one thing for sure; backpacking isn’t for everyone. And this isn’t a bad thing. If it were, the backcountry would be much more crowded than it already is. Some people enjoy strapping on a backpack and heading out into the wilderness, and then others would prefer to stay at home or head to the beach. To each their own. We’ll dive into what backpackers should pack, planning trips, and more if you’re new.

The following may or may not be obvious to you or have been said before, but I wanted to add my special flair to a list. Away we go.

Backpackers what to pack – 5 Suggestions For Making Your Trip Amazing

1) Get Quality Gear

I’m not saying break the bank over here. I understand that when you add it all up, backpacking gear can get expensive. On the other hand, it is an investment. You are putting the money in now, so you’ll have this gear five, ten, or fifteen years later. Furthermore, quality gear means you can trust it when you’re going 4+ days into the wilderness.

The last thing you want is a strap tearing on your backpack, your water filter going bottom up, or your boot getting a hole in it. On top of this, choosing the more expensive route will likely mean it’ll be lighter. This is crucial when you load up your pack. There’s a huge difference between 45 pounds and 55 or 35 and 45.

My Advice: Take it slow. Get your main essentials, including a tent, sleeping pad and bag, hiking boots, a backpack, a stove, and a water filter. After that, figure out what you need. Sometimes, your hiking companions will have what you need, and there’s no reason not to share. In case you want to see my pack, here it is.

backpackers what to pack
My gear to hike Havasupai.

Related: What to bring on a successful backpacking trip

2) The People Make The Trip

Unless you plan on taking every trip you do solo, the people who join you will be why, when you look back in one year, or five, or ten, you remember it so fondly. Unless you have a large outdoors friend group from the start, most backpacking trips will include people you don’t know. Don’t fret; these people will likely become fast friends who you will want to adventure with over and over.

Relationships strengthen exponentially faster in the backcountry than in normal city life. First, your phone likely doesn’t work, so you can’t use it. This forces you to talk, leading conversations down who knows how many rabbit holes – the places where you truly learn about them and their lives. Plus, the shared struggle brings you closer together – just like a sports team. Thirdly, you’ll have these memories forever, giving you a strong mental, physical, and spiritual connection. While I want to say choose wisely, in the end, the people you backpack with will undoubtedly share a special spot in your heart in the future no matter what. Oh, and make sure one has some medical background – that’s always a good thing.

I recently watched Chris Burkard’s ‘Under An Arctic Sky’ documentary, and a line resonated with me. I’m paraphrasing, but the essence was, “I’m here because of the people around me and the journey. If I get an epic photo, that’s just icing on the cake.”

Remember that. The people, your friends, make the trip.

essentials backpacking
 backpackers what to pack

3) Pick an Epic Destination

There isn’t a shortage of epic destinations in this world; you have to know of them or reach them. One is obviously easier than the other. I’ve started making a list of my phone of wilderness areas that I see on Instagram, Reddit, or other outdoor sites. This process can be difficult for two reasons. First, is it somewhat near a major airport for easy-ish access? Second, can you wrangle enough people together to make the trip happen?

For my Canada trip, I initially had a list of six to eight people I wanted to come. It dwindled to three in total. That wasn’t a bad thing but cast your net wide, as most won’t be able to attend. Now, back to picking a spot, ensure plenty of water is accessible, and make sure it’s within your physical ability. I can walk for miles and miles without issue, but if you want me to scale Half Dome’s face with a rope, that’s not going to work out too well.

Related: Backpacking to Sahale Glacier Camp

Another pro tip, picking a spot off the beaten path is pretty cool, too. This doesn’t mean you have to blaze the first path but being secluded with your group is a pretty awesome feeling. And if you were looking for my list of spots, sorry. I’m holding that close to my chest. You’ll have to follow to find out!

Garibaldi Lake Milky Way essentials backpacking
backpackers what to pack whistler hikes
Observation Point Hike Zion essentials backpacking
Havasu Falls
Havasu Falls

4) Backpackers what to pack – When it Comes to Food, Don’t Skimp Out

With food, you can go two routes with backpackers and what to pack. Freeze-dried meals, which are light and pretty tasty (Mountain House or Backpackers Pantry are the leading brands), or go heavier with solid foods. The first will be a little bit more expensive as they run between $8-$11 a bag. Or go the middle route, a combination of both. Either way, you want enough where you will be relatively well-fed throughout the day. Depending on the trip’s difficulty, it’s not out of the question for you to burn five to six thousand calories daily. Now, I understand it’s pretty hard to consume that much food on a normal day, let alone on a backpacking trip, but if you can get at least four thousand calories into you, you should be okay.

On my four-day, three-night trip to the Enchantments, I had three Mountain House Breakfast Scrambles (one for each morning) and four dinner meals (I brought an extra one just in case and I needed it after the work we put in on day 3). Additionally, I brought a thing of salami and a block of cheese. Those two are great for backpacking as they won’t go bad in a short time, and they don’t need to be chilled. Additionally, I had dried fruit, granola, M&M’s (I’ve found that I need something sweet and calorie dense to enjoy on these trips), protein bars, PB&J uncrustables, and probably more, which I’m forgetting. In any case, you can see that I’d rather have too much food than not enough.

Related: Backpacking with a camera

This style undoubtedly makes my pack heavier, but it’s a sacrifice I’m okay taking to 1) be nourished and 2) be able to cope if there’s a small emergency that upends the trip.

5) Essentials Backpacking – Meticulously Study Where You’re Going

I love to plan trips, so I’m usually the one who researches the ins and outs of the adventure. However, I firmly believe everyone on the trip should have a detailed knowledge of the trail, various day hikes, and other pertinent information. One, this means that the trip itinerary isn’t on the shoulders of just one or a couple of people, but the entire team can now make educated decisions. Don’t get me wrong, I love making decisions, hence one of the reasons I like to plan trips out, but I also feel a little guilty that everyone’s doing what I want. (Luckily, my trips are usually badass, and everyone has liked them.)

So if you’re not the unofficial or official trip leader, don’t worry; you should still participate. Your friends will be happy you are interested in it, and who knows, maybe you’ve seen an epic spot that no one else has. More eyes are always better!

Hopefully, this helped give you a little more confidence for backpackers what to pack or gave you some ideas to mull over.

Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.

You can follow along the journey on Facebook and Instagram or shoot me any questions and comments about places to go. And don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get notified when new posts come out!