Plan Your First Backpacking Trip

Ready for Some Adventure? Go Backpacking! Ready for Some Adventure? Go Backpacking!

Ready for some adventure? Discover backpacking!

Ready for Some Adventure?

Perhaps you and your family or friends have been doing a lot of day hiking and are ready for an overnight backpacking trip. Well, this step can be an exciting and adventurous one - as well as a safe one if you’re prepared.


Backpacking requires a tremendous amount of planning in contrast to day hiking. For example, you must consider menu planning, which can be a balancing act between carrying enough calories but not too much weight. You’ll want to be prepared for inclement weather, which includes a tent or other reliable shelter, rain gear, non-cotton clothing layers, comprehensive first-aid, water treatment measures, and cooking equipment. Again, it’s a balancing act to minimize weight but still cover the bases of safety and comfort. And too much weight, especially when hiking with children, can have a negative affect on safety. 

Backpacking Requires Planning
Backpacking Requires Planning

3 Tips For Maximizing Safety and Minimizing Weight

Here are 3 excellent tips for striking a balance between maximum safety and minimum pack weight. 

Invest in Good Equipment

First, invest in good equipment. Most outdoor gear companies make light-weight versions of almost everything. To outfit a family of 4 or 5, you could spend thousands of dollars in gear.  So, you might consider going with a guide company first to make sure you enjoy backpacking before purchasing your own gear.   This is also a great way to pick up useful tips and skills before investing in gear. 

Take Only What You Need

Secondly, only take what you need.... but take what you need! Everyone will need a backpack, tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad, as well as extra clothing. You’ll need a stove to cook on and to make hot drinks, which can be very useful for combating the cold. Beyond these items, unless something is directly related to safety (like flashlights or headlamps, first-aid kit, knife, matches...etc) or hygiene (camp soap, toothbrush...etc.) then don’t bring it. 

GPS Locator

Finally, if you plan to do serious backpacking, or plan to backpack with children, a great way to carry emergency communication with you is through a S.P.O.T. GPS locator. This extremely lightweight device can be programmed to send out an emergency alert and your GPS location. After purchasing a S.P.O.T locator, service is available through subscription.  You’ll be glad you have it if you need it!

Visit Your Library or Bookstore

For more information on backpacking, there are several great books such as the NOLS Cookery by Claudia Pearson which outlines detailed menus and ingredients for longer hikes. 

Scott Cundy

Scott Cundy is the owner and co-founder of the Wildland Trekking Company with locations in Flagstaff, Arizona and Missoula, Montana.  He has a degree in English and has worked in the adventure travel profession most of his career. Scott has ventured professionally to 13 countries throughout North America, Europe, the South Pacific, and Central America. For five years Scott also enjoyed facilitating leadership development seminars and workshops with two training companies, Odyssey Performance Enhancement Network and Klemmer and Associates.  Scott grew up hiking and backpacking with his family in New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming. He's sure backcountry hiking is severely contagious and doesn't have any known cure, because once afflicted with it the constant desire to "get out" has plagued him his whole life. 

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