There is nothing I love more than spending a few days, if not weeks, in nature. There is nothing more satisfying than hiking through dense forests or paddling on beautiful lakes and covering miles and miles powered by your own arms and legs. At the end of the day you can enjoy a warm meal and a nice campfire before camping at night. But if you want to make the most of your upcoming adventure, knowing how to plan a backpacking trip is essential.
Pick a destination
The first step of planning your backpacking trip is a logical one: picking a destination. What are you interested in? Do you love mountaineous landscapes? Or do you prefer lakes and woods? Pick a country or region you are drawn to. You’ll want to consider which destination/ trail fits within your budget and skill set.
New to hiking? Check out these five easy backpacking trips!
Choose the type or length of a trail
How many days of weeks do you have to spend in the outdoors? Once you have an idea of the place you want to visit, you can check which trail suits you best. Are you looking for a hiking trail or do you prefer paddling? There are many options, from loop hikes to point-to-point hikes and out-and-back hikes.
The terrain also plays a vital role in planning your trip. A hike in the mountains will take much longer than a trail along the coastline. Keep in mind that rougher terrain means that you’ll cover less distance per day. A strenuous 7 kilometer hike in the mountains can take a whole afternoon while a hike on flat terrain of similar distance will take only a couple of hours.
Check out local rules and regelations and see if you need a permit or not.
What time of year is best?
Once you have decided on the destination and trail of your backpacking trip, find out what time of year is best for this trip? Hiking the mountains in winter season is extremely difficult and only recommended in summer season, while Scotland is best avoided in summer due to midges. Tropic regions on the other hand might have a rainy season. Besides weather, take wildlife into account. Are there any hungry bears or annoying mosquitoes around?
All of these factors will influence the gear you will need.
Assuming you’re figuring out how to plan a backpacking trip sometime in spring, summer or fall, these are the three main gear groups you need.
- Camping gear
- Cooking gear
See our full Gear list
Get in shape
To be able to enjoy your backpacking trip, it is recommended to be in good shape. Make sure your body is up for the challenge. A hiking trip will require muscular stamina and leg strength while a paddling journey will need you to get some strenght in your arms.
Get outside and train by doing the activity you intend to do. It’s the perfect moment to break in your gear as well and test all your equipment.
One of the most important things about planning your backpacking trip is checking where you can resupply and get water. Are there stores along the trail or will you have to carry all the food from the start? Are there lakes and rivers to get water while you go?
Make a food schedule of the meals you will be consuming during your trip. Add some trail snacks as well for during hiking. You can easily sort out your meals by mixing the ingredients (freeze-dried is recommended anyway) in a zip-lock bag. Make sure the meals are lightweight and full off energy. Freeze-dried meals are recommended.
Check out our posts about ‘What are the best foods when backpacking?‘ and ‘10 best meals to prepare for your outdoor adventure‘.
Pack your backpack
Your preparation is over! Not only have you planned your trail, but you are geared up and are physically fit as well! Everything is set to have a successful backpacking trip. It’s time to pack your backpack. Make sure the weight not exceeds 1/4 of your bodyweight to have a comfortable hike. If you are paddling in a canoe, weight is not so much an issue.
Check our post about ‘how to pack your backpack?‘.
Need help with planning your trip? Check out our adventure e-guides to help you planning your adventure!