8 Golden Rules of Backpacking - Fire Maple

8 Golden Rules of Backpacking

It's not always a race, or about pushing your limits as far as you can, it's about experiencing nature as it is meant to be enjoyed.
Backpacking is a wonderful way to see the world on a budget without trying to haul everything and the kitchen sink around with you from place to place. But, for the inexperienced backpacker, there can be a lot of challenges and a few pitfalls if you don't have a plan and stick to it (somewhat, after all, backpacking fosters spontaneity!) We will provide you with 8 golden rules of backpacking to make your trip safer, easier, and far more enjoyable!

Rule #1: Pack light

Backpacking can be hard work! Especially if you overpack trying to anticipate every potential scenario. Everything you pack will be carried by you for the rest of the trip. Do you need a second pair of shoes? A third sweater? Please prepare clothes according to weather forecast, day and night temperature difference, altitude, etc. before departure.

Rule #2: Think about water

Backpacking may be exhausting, so planning how you will gather and store your water is critical. Every 2 hours, many hikers carry 1 liter of water. This formula may need to be modified depending on the circumstances. Water intake may be affected by temperature, humidity, altitude, route, and body weight. Bring some water, but keep in mind that water is heavy, so the more you bring, the heavier your bag will be.

Rule #3: Light clothing

Pack light - wear light. Your clothing should be light and breathable. Waterproofs aren't heavy, so don't neglect to bring some! Clothing like jeans is going to be uncomfortable to wear and heavy as heck to carry. Try to wear lightweight hiking pants, like stretch cargo trousers.


Rule #4: Walk at the pace of the slowest person

If you are backpacking in a group ensure you are walking at a pace comfortable to the slowest person. This even applies to groups of one! Don't push yourself to walk faster than is comfortable for you, hiking is most certainly a marathon, not a sprint.


Rule #5: Cookware can be a lifesaver

Bringing some high-quality hiking cookware or backpacking stoves with you can be a lifesaver - really! Whether you are using it to cook your dinner or purify your water, cookware can be the difference between going to bed hungry or not. Cookware or backpacking stoves don't have to be heavy, there are plenty of options for lightweight compact cookware, you don't  have to pack a cast iron pan for the trail.


Rule #6: Stick to the trail

Backpacking can be dangerous. If you don't take care to stick to the trail you WILL get lost and it's a hell of a hard job to find someone when you don't know where to start looking. Always inform someone of where and when you will be hiking. Tell them which trail you'll be on and then stick to it. It's okay to deviate from the path a little, like when you're taking a break or camping, just don't wander too far


Rule #7: Leave the trail as you found it

Don't litter, don't disturb the wildlife more than you need to, and don't leave fires unattended. These three key points are what this rule boils down to. When we enter the great outdoors the responsibility is on us as individuals to maintain the tranquillity and balance that we are entering. If you make a concerted effort to clean up after yourself, do as little damage to the plant life as possible, and leave the animals well enough alone you'll do alright. Anything that comes onto the trail with you should leave with you. It's easy to remember to bring your backpacking stove with you. Its a little harder to ensure every candy bar wrapper is accounted for when you return home.

Rule #8: Enjoy yourself

Yes, rule 8 is a little gimmicky, but it's important. Backpacking on the trail can be wonderfully therapeutic. Exercise is good for your mind and body - the great outdoors is good for your soul. Take your time. Take in the scenery. Allow yourself to relax and unwind by going at your own pace allows backpacking to be fun, not a chore.

Summary

Hopefully, this short article will help new and experienced backpackers alike. For the newbies, hopefully, this has clarified a little bit about what you can expect on the trail and the way you should approach packing your backpack. For the seasoned backpacking vets, maybe this will remind you what backpacking is all about. It's not always a race, or about pushing your limits as far as you can, it's about experiencing nature as it is meant to be enjoyed.