11 Pro Tips for Packing for Your First Backpacking Trip

2. And make sure to consider the 11th essential (according to me): hygiene.

It’s not covered in the 10 essentials, but you do have to consider it when you pack. McIntosh suggests carrying biodegradable soap, though she’s quick to point out you should always be at least 100 feet away from any water source—you should never wash your body or your clothes in a river or lake. You can also bring a little bottle of hand sanitizer. Backpacking Backpacking Backpacking Backpacking Backpacking

When it comes to backcountry bathroom tactics, make sure you’re familiar with leave-no-trace principles. Bring an appropriate amount of toilet paper (no need to bring the whole roll.) Depending on the area you’re in, you’ll probably have to either bury toilet paper or bring it back with you (known as packing it out). If you’re just peeing, a popular option for women backpackers is to bring a “pee rag”—usually a bandana or half of a quick-drying cloth. You use it to wipe with and then hang it off your pack to dry in the sun. Some women might choose to use a urination device (basically a funnel). And make sure you have a good trowel for digging holes to go number two—even if you think you’ll have access to a toilet or won’t need to go. It’s no fun to get stuck with your pants down and nothing to dig a hole with. I like the The Deuce.Backpacking Backpacking Backpacking Backpacking Backpacking

Last but not least, menstruating. Your method of managing your period can be the same as at home. If you’re using tampons or pads, you will need to pack them out, so be sure to bring an extra plastic, sealable bag to put used items.

Keep all of your bathroom necessities—toilet paper, trowel, hand sanitizer—in a single bag that you can grab quick when nature calls.

3. Save money on gear by borrowing, repurposing, or renting it.

Cost can be a big barrier for people to start backpacking, but that doesn’t need to be the case, Fleming says. She recommends repurposing things you already have at home instead of investing in specialized items right off the bat—a nifty folding lightweight spork seems legit, but a spoon you already have will suffice. If you have friends who backpack, see if they’d be open to letting you borrow some of their gear.

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