12 Tips for Planning Great Backpacking Adventures

Campsite Plan

Plan your route with a good idea of where you’d like to camp, but always leave room for flexibility. You’ll rarely find that you follow your itinerary exactly and it can be fun to make changes on the fly.

Loop hikes are generally preferred, but can be harder to organize because the mileage will have to fit closely your daily mileage goals.

Out and back hikes are also very common and can be a flexible way to travel, especially on shorter trips.

Hiking from one trailhead to another is a way to avoid retracing your steps, but can add logistical difficulties, like needing to bring two cars or hitchhike.

You could also consider hiking in, setting up a base camp, and doing day hikes to explore the area. That can also be a lot of fun.

Water Plan

Pay close attention to water sources while you’re planning your route. You’ll need to know where to find reliable water along your trip and when you’re going to be traveling for long stretches without reliable water.

If you’re traveling in a dry area, call a ranger station ahead of time to see how well the water sources are flowing.

Food Plan

Put together a food plan well ahead of time and make sure everyone’s needs are met. It’s pretty common for every hiker to bring their own snacks but to share communal dinners.

You’ll be burning more calories than normal on your trip, but you don’t need to go overboard. Try to bring an appropriate size of lightweight calorically dense foods.

Get the Gear

Make sure you have all the gear you’ll need for your trip at least a couple of weeks in advance. Always test your gear before you taking it into the field.

Consider going on a one night shake down hike to practice using all of your equipment on a short trip before you go out on a longer backpacking trip.

If you’re a beginner, see if you can borrow gear from friends for your first trip. Once you have some trail experience, it’ll be easier to know what you need and avoid spending lots of money on unnecessary gear.

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