backpacking summiting mt daniel tent views

8 Ways To Prep for Backpacking Season

As warmer weather approaches, so do the backpacking opportunities! But after four, five, or six months in the closet, you might have forgotten what gear needs an upgrade, to be cleaned, or is no longer needed.

Go through your backpacking items and thoroughly inspect the gear you’ll use this season.

Clean and waterproof your boots

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Over time, your leather backpacking boots will start to crack and break down, leaving them susceptible to taking on water when you expect them to keep it out. All it takes is 15 minutes to clean your boots and apply cream and spray to ensure their waterproofness is up to speed.

Plus, doing this will extend the life of your boots, saving you money in the long run.

Check for any holes/broken zippers in the gear

a big agnes copper spur UL3 tent with hiking boots in front
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch/ @Alecoutside

There’s nothing worse than realizing your tent, pack, or sleeping bag has a hole in it, or the zipper no longer works. Before you head out on your trip, do a quick run-through to see what gear is in tip-top shape and what needs a little love.

Furthermore, consider rinsing the tent and backpack to remove all the dirt and grime from the past year. You can do this in the bathtub and then set up your gear outside to dry.

Check your fuel canisters

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

You probably don’t remember which fuel canisters were last used, so do a quick check by picking them up and seeing how heavy they are. If you realize a few are super low, you can even get a device that transfers fuel between different canisters to empty one. This way, you’ll know none are being wasted.

Stock up on dehydrated backpacking meals

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

It’s always the night before that you realize you don’t have enough meals. Stock up on freeze-dried meals from Mountain House and Backpackers Pantry, and you’ll be set for the entire summer! A tip is to buy in bulk, and you can usually cut a few dollars off the price per bag.

Double-check the batteries in headlamps

two tents are lit up in the snow
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Odds are, you left batteries in your headlamp all winter long. And odds are, those batteries are nearly dead. It’s time to replace them with new ones. And a pro tip: put another set in a zip lock and put them in your backpacking bag for an emergency moment.

Reserve any necessary permits

sahale glacier camp backpacking
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

With more and more places going to the permit system, backpacking on a whim is a bit harder than it used to be. Look up the permitting rules for your region and start locking in dates now! If you find none available at the moment, make a mental note to check back each week to see if people have returned them to the general public.

Start Training Now

A hiker walks towards the camera with a larch tree to the right and mountains behind them.
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Have you started hiking? Have you hit the stair stepper at the gym? Living in Seattle, I know full well how hard it can be to stay motivated during the slog of winter gloom and doom. It’s time to get moving and begin building up for the epic backpacking trips you have in store!

Training will depend on what your goal is. But a good rule of thumb is to start slow and work your way up. Aim for 5-10 miles a week with 500-2,000 feet of gain towards the beginning to limit injuries.

Make Travel Plans

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

If you’re interested in a destination, start booking your flights, hotels, or rental cars early to save money. Last-minute reservations tend to be more expensive, and there’s no reason to spend more money when you don’t have to.

Author: Alec Sills-Trausch

Title: Founder of Explore with Alec

Expertise: Hiking, Backpacking, Photography, and Road Trips

Alec Sills-Trausch is a hiker, backpacker, landscape photographer, and syndicated travel writer. He enjoys showing off the beauty of the world through his photos, videos, and written work on Alec is also a 2x cancer survivor and bone marrow transplant recipient, showing the world that there is a future from this terrible disease.

He lives in Washington, where he gets to enjoy the stunning PNW mountains in addition to all the other places he attempts to visit each year! You can see more work on IG at @AlecOutside