“One can aptly define an outdoor recreational activity as the individual pursuit of leisure by engaging in activities set in a natural or semi-natural environment that is usually outside the town boundaries. Backpacking is one of the most popular outdoor recreational activities. It is all about roaming through the wilderness while carrying gear on the back. The gear contains food, water, clothing, bedding, shelter, stove and cooking kit. Backpackers hike for more than a day, and sometimes they camp too. Backpacking has the perfect blend of fun and adventure with minimal risks involved provided you have prepared for it. It leads you through some of the most beautiful places in nature, places that lie isolated from human exploitation. It can last from a week to a month to even more depending upon where you choose to backpack and what your plans are.
In North America, tents are used as shelters while, in Europe, mountain huts are widely preferred. Backpacking takes the term tramping in New Zealand where it means hill climbing or walking over a rough terrain. Tramping is done in overnight huts. Also known as hill walking in Britain, the backpackers use all kinds of accommodation in addition to camping.
A good and experienced backpacker will backpack in a way that he has a minimum to no impact on the environment. To avoid getting lost and losing track he prefers staying on established trails. There is a four sided rule while you backpack
– Leave nothing but footprints
– Take nothing but pictures
– Kill nothing but time
– Keep nothing but memories
Every backpacker must abide by these four golden rules and remember to not disturb nature in any possible way.
Preparation is the key to planning and having a great backpacking trip. If you fall short at any point, then things can go wrong in a way you never intended. Moreover, you can only have a remarkable trip if you have thoroughly prepared for any and every situation. There can be unexpected changes in the weather conditions. You can come upon extremely rough or difficult terrain, heights, and dangerous water crossings. You might encounter dangerous animals. Lack of proper basic amenities of food and water can lead to exhaustion due to heat, dehydration, fatigue and altitude sickness. You can also have a fever or an injury. The backpacking gear consists of all the survival gear that includes food, water, shelter, bedding, first aid and clothing. You cannot pack anything and everything especially if you are going on a solo backpacking trip because weight plays a major role in backpacking. You cannot afford to carry heavy items as that will tire you fast. Therefore having adequate survival gear and the skills to use them properly is of the prime importance of a backpacking trip.
Here are a few tips on how to prepare for every aspect of a safe and an equally exciting backpacking trip.
- Choose accommodation appropriate to the expected conditions: Campsites have the camping gear transported by car or boat that is not the case in backpacking. You have to carry it all in your gear. If the area you are backpacking in has a lot of backpackers then it known as a hike-in campsite. It has a fire ring, an outhouse and a map with the information about the nearby routes and trails. The hike-in area is in a small patch that does not have heavy vegetation.
If you are backpacking alone on a secluded route, then you have to find a plain area for camping yourself. When backpacking in Europe, you can look for Alpine huts that are scattered all over the mountains. In the backpacking area near Yorkshire Dales and Lake District, the backpackers have to come down to stay in hotels and farmhouses.
In many areas in the Great Britain, there are bothies present. A bothy is a basic shelter. It is left unlocked at all times so that it is available for use to anyone who might need it. They are free accommodations for backpackers.
On the safe side, it would be better if you carry a lightweight tent with you in your backpacking gear.
- Pack adequate equipment: Backpacking is all about walking through nature with the right equipment with you at all times.
– Backpack: The first in the list is a good quality backpack. It should be proper in its size and should fit you perfectly well. You don’t want to keep adjusting your backpack while you are on the move.
– Clothing: Having the right clothes with you is essential while backpacking. You need to be aware of the routes you will take during your trip, whether you will go to someplace cold or snowy or not. In any case, you must be ready for all weather conditions including sunny, rainy, stormy and if that’s the trail you are taking, snowy.
– Map: Have a map of the area you intend to cover while backpacking. Also double check with someone who knows the area about what is what so that you don’t get confused on your way.
– Sleep System: Having proper sleep system is necessary because night is the only time you get to refill your energy bar. You cannot afford to lose that time to struggle and discomfort. Pack a sleeping bag or maybe a foam pad.
- Pack lightly: There is nothing worse than having the feeling of carrying a huge and heavy bag of bricks, especially when your intention is to enjoy yourself. Backpacking means walking uphill and downhill through rough terrain, rocks, and heavy vegetation. You have to carry all that you need in your backpack. You cannot afford to make it heavy. A thumb rule says that a fully packed backpack should not weigh more than 25% of the total weight of the person. There is always a lighter and better option for every item that you intend to take on your trip. Of course, it will cost a little more but will have the durability and utility of traditional equipment.
- Food and Water: When you have been walking all through the day you are doing nothing but burning up a lot of calories and draining your energy. Backpacking by definition is an energy intensive outdoor activity. Thus, it is important to refill all the lost nutrients to ensure that you maintain a good health throughout your trip. You need essential food that has enough of proteins, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins. Don’t worry about gaining weight because that will not happen. In fact, you end up losing much more weight than before you started the trip.
Satisfaction is also a factor when it comes to backpacking because most people look for foods that make them feel full and satisfied after they have had it. What kind of food you carry depends mostly on the duration of your trip. The longer your trip, the more planning it requires, food and water wise.
– Food: For food you cannot carry canned foods or stored foods, especially if you are going for a week or a month long trip. That is not only heavy but is also not feasible. Therefore, people carry cooking kit and cooking fuel, camp stoves and cooking pots that are ultra light in weight. For consumption, they carry cold cereal, oatmeal, dried fruits, salami, sausages, pasta, rice, powdered milk and other beverages such as coffee and tea.
– Water: Adequate hydration is of paramount importance when it comes to successful backpacking. Therefore, people pack high-energy beverages such as tea, coffee, and other cocoa products. They carry a container of water and also a means to purify it before consumption. There are many risks of drinking the mountain water as it is. It might seem clean but sometimes, even the cleanest of waters require purification. Consuming water from rivers can cause illness and other water-borne diseases.
When it comes to packing food and water, weight again comes into consideration. Carrying cooking kits, fuel, cooking utensils and then eating utensils along with cleaning equipment for food and drinking vessel, purification unit, and separate hydration bags for water can add a lot of weight. Then you also need to carry raw materials for cooking them up before consuming them. After a day of backpacking, when you are thoroughly exhausted, you need to set up your camp and them take out time to cook food and then finally consume it. With so many problems that come with carrying separate food and water supplies it is only wiser to look for alternatives that substitute everything from cooking kits to cooking fuel and vessels for water to purification systems. You need to look for food that has high in energy, has low mass and volume, a long shelf life and deliver equal or even more utility than raw packed food. This substitute comes in the form of MREs.
MREs or Meals, Ready to Eat, are packed boxes that contain food and water. They eliminate the need for any cooking or eating equipment. Most MREs have rations for an entire day that is three meals, snacks, and a dessert in each meal. They also have plastic eating utensils along with a fork or spoon that makes them extremely light weight. MREs have almost 1200 to 2000 calories packed in each meal that you consume. They do not require any external heating, so you do not need any heating fuel.
You can consume a hot MRE at any time and any place. All you need to do is buy MREs that come with a flameless heater. There are MREs with self-heating functionality too. As soon as you open such MREs, the heating system is activated, and you can consume hot meals.
Each MRE is packed in a hermetically sealed environment. They are highly ruggedized and are specially designed to withstand the most extreme conditions. They are waterproof and impact resistant. These qualities make them a good choice for long outdoor trips because you don’t have to worry about them losing their nutritional value or going stale as long as they have been specified to last. You can buy MREs that last for three days, a week, a month to even a year.
As proper hydration is extremely necessary during backpacking, you should buy MREs that come with emergency drinking water supplies.
You cannot find MREs in retail stores. You can buy them in military stores. They are a better option for your backpacking or any other outdoor trip for that matter because
– You cannot cook food in areas where there is a restriction on campfires. MREs do not require fire.
– They are durably packaged.
– MREs offer variety in terms of food. Also, it is not bland as you would expect a packaged meal to be.
– MREs are easy to carry because you can readily access them and eat them while you are still moving.
– They are heavy because they have water too but are lighter when it comes to packing them against the cooking kits and other such equipment.
With so much that a single pack of MREs can offer you, there is no better choice than to pack them for your food and water supply in your backpack. As long as you have MREs you can never starve or be on the lower side of consuming the required nutrients during your backpacking trip.”