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If you are looking for a grand adventure, then a well-planned backpacking trip is the best way to find it because there is nothing quite like taking the long trail up a mountainside or through a gorgeous forest. However, while it may seem easy to just buy a backpack and start walking, there are many considerations and things you must do to prepare for a backpacking trip.

We are here to help. Whether you are an experienced hiker or you are just starting out, we have some great tips and pieces of advice that can be lifesavers during your next backpacking trip.

Prepping Before the Trip

If you are preparing for your first backpacking trek, then you will want to take some time to get your body and mind in tip-top shape so you don’t get out there to find out that you weren’t truly prepared. For starters, you will need to choose the right backpack.

If you are planning a long hike, then you will need to buy a pack that has all of the essential elements, including a top-loading design, extra pockets, and a water bladder pocket so you can always stay hydrated. Try on different packs and make sure that it is comfortable because you’ll have it on your back for long periods of time. 

Next, you will need to get in shape and prepare your body for the long journey backpacking. You are going to want to practice by walking a lot in the months and/or weeks leading up to your hike.

You will want to aim for at least 10,000 steps a day. Once you get used to the motion, you’ll need to kick it up a notch by walking up and down hills or stairs so you can get your body used to that movement. As a final step, add weight to your backpack and walk with it a lot until you build up your muscles.

As part of your training, you will want to find and purchase shoes or boots that are comfortable and durable enough to last throughout your adventure without falling apart or hurting your feet.

When shopping for boots, make sure to try them on before you buy. You’ll want to find boots that are snug around your entire foot but not too tight, and you should have a little bit of wiggle room for your toes.

You do not want them to be loose, or they could end up hurting your feet. Once you find what you need, wear them during your training.

Understand How to Prevent Risks While on the Backpacking Trip

It is important for both new backpackers and seasoned pros to brush up on the common risks and dangers that can occur out on the trail because if you are always prepared and you understand the potential dangers, then backpacking can be a very peaceful endeavor.

For starters, you never know when someone will trip or get hurt in some way, so it is essential to be protective and pack a first aid kit. Your kit should include basic hiking materials, such as gauze, bandages, sanitizer, and sunscreen, along with any necessary medications.

A common threat that can become a reality during a hike is the potential of ticks and other pests. It is important to know how to combat and prevent ticks, which includes wearing long pants, using insect repellant, always staying on the designated trail, and avoiding walking through long grass whenever possible.

Make it a point to stop at regular durations throughout your hike to check for ticks. Always look at the common hiding places, such as the back of the knees, between your legs, and around your waist. 

You will want to have a pair of tweezers in your first aid kit, and if you find a tick, use them to pull the head of the pest upward using even pressure. Once you are sure it is removed, clean the area with antiseptic.

It is also a wise idea to research the trail ahead of time, so you don’t run the risk of getting lost or becoming stressed. If information is available, then get a general idea of the course that your trail will take and always follow all posted signage. Make sure that your phone is fully charged, and bring an extra charger so you can call for help if necessary.

What You Eat and Drink is Essential

How you fuel your body before and during the backpacking trip is incredibly important, so you have the physical strength to get through your journey. As you prepare for a backpacking trip, make an effort to change your diet and avoid the fast foods and overly sugary treats that can hinder your body and prevent you from enduring extensive periods of activity. 

Continue this diet up until the day of the hike. In the morning, make sure that you have a smart and solid breakfast. This is truly the most important meal of the day because by including fruit, dairy, and whole grains, you get the essential nutrients that your body needs, which helps to control your blood sugar levels, manage your weight, and most importantly, provide a natural energy boost to keep you going during the hike. You should bring other nutritious snacks like granola and trail mix so you can stay nourished and energized until the end.

Of course, you also need to drink plenty of water during your expedition. By staying hydrated, you replace the fluids that you flush out by sweating, and drinking water also helps you to stay alert. As a general rule, try to drink a half-liter of water for every hour of walking in moderate temperatures. 

As you can see, there is a lot to consider before you head up the trail during your next backpacking expedition. Follow the guidance provided here, and you will stay in great shape during your next adventure.

Going out in the wild and isolating yourself from the city noise and your ordinary life is so freeing, but terrifying at the same time. There is so much you need to learn about backpacking outdoors, and tons of small details that can make your first time the best one ever, or the most disastrous one. The following article is made specifically for you and your needs. 

In the following, you’ll find out nearly everything you need to know to experience an ultralight backpacking adventure. We say nearly, because there is so much to talk about, and we cannot possibly fit that in one article. You’ll be making small mistakes along the way, but we’ll make sure that they won’t ruin the whole experience for you. 

Grab the essentials 

Backpack 

Investing in a comfy backpack is really important because it’s the main thing that you’ll be carrying with you all the time. The backpack should be adjustable, with foamy cushions to avoid any pressure points, and preferably a strap that will wrap around and support your torso. The material should also be high-quality, and bonus points for you if it’s waterproof. 

Ideally, the backpack should have one main compartment and multiple smaller ones. This will help you organize better, and you won’t have to unpack everything just to see where the matches are. Small compartments are also important for storing snacks that you can enjoy along the way.

Tent 

The tent is a long-term investment, so don’t be afraid to spend a bit over the top for it. Of course, you shouldn’t just barge in the store and purchase the most expensive one. Find a tent that will suit your needs. Do you want to share it? Are you going to hike in the winter? Do you want the light to enter it? Once you know your personal preferences, you can even pick the color.

Tents that are bigger are more expensive but they can fit you and another person or two. Smaller tents will give you more warmth, as well as enough space and comfort. The tent should also be made of waterproof material and should be thick enough not to get ripped by the tree branches surrounding it. 

Sleeping bag

Sleeping bags come in a variety of shapes and sizes and they are the second important long-term investment you’ll be getting. You don’t want to spend the night sleeping on the tent’s flooring because it will be cold and you’ll feel every stone and branch under the material. Not to mention the back pain you’ll experience in the morning. 

Sleeping bags vary in terms of their usage. You can opt either for a camping sleeping bag or a backpacking one. If you plan on pursuing both activities, then you should invest in the latter one. It’s a lot lighter and you can fold it to better fit in your backpack. The second major difference is in the filling. You can choose between down-filled or synthetic sleeping bags, depending on your preferences. Also, it’s up to you what shape of sleeping bag will you take, but we suggest you the mummy one for the snuggling feeling.

The right clothes

Don't underestimate the importance of having the right clothes on your backpacking adventure

Don’t underestimate the importance of having the right clothes on your backpacking adventure

Forget all about denim and your favorite cotton tee with a cute application in the front. You should also avoid no-show socks, dark colors, and silky outfits. Opt for breathable materials such as merino wool, nylon, polyester. Light colors will absorb less heat, and especially during the summertime, that’s exactly what you want. No matter the weather, it’s a great idea to wear a waterproof jacket with you. An extra set of clothes in your backpack is mandatory, especially if you sweat a lot.

In terms of shoes, hiking sandals or boots that cover your ankles work the best. Depending on the terrain, you can also choose to wear comfortable walking shoes. The shoes should be comfortable, and the right size for you. During your walk, your feet will swell, and you don’t want your boots rubbing your feet and forming blisters and wounds. 

Don’t forget the details

Small details can make it or break it for you. Apart from enough food and water, you need to pay close attention to small things that should find their way in your backpack. On your list, you must have a power bank for your phone. Matcher or lighter should always be stored in your smaller compartments unless you feel super confident about starting a campfire without them. A pocket knife can find many uses out in the wild as well. 

Bringing a basic first aid kit and knowing emergency first aid can be of great use, no matter if you’re backpacking alone or with friends. There are articles online, and your local hospital would gladly walk you through a quick course of first aid. You may not need it at the moment but might find yourself in a situation where somebody needs help.

I’m sure we all have that person in our lives who is ready to hit the road now that travel is opening up again. Explore our list of travel gifts for the women in your life while they dream of future adventures.

Budget Travel Gifts for Women – Under $20

Any item from this list would make a great stand-alone gift or stocking stuffer. Or, why not create your own gift basket full of useful gadgets for the savvy traveler in your life?

1. Sleeping Bag Liner – One of our favorite travel gifts for women – washable, compact, and soft. We’ve loved having these in hostels and guest houses just to ensure hygienic peace of mind. Plus – these handy liners mean that your sleeping bag will stay clean since you can just remove the liner and throw it in the wash. This version is silky soft and stays durable after washing.

2. Portable Phone Tripod with Remote – Looking for that perfect travel gadget for the solo female traveler in your life? This tripod can be used as a mini selfie stick or to capture a solo shot in the midst of an awesome backdrop. Plus, this tripod will help them capture the perfect night shot, which requires that the camera is perfectly still. This version has adjustable legs plus a Bluetooth remote to snap pics from afar.

Backpacking gifts for solo travelers

3. Waterproof phone case – Great for the female traveler who enjoys the great outdoors– rain or shine.  Some waterproof cases are advanced enough that they allow you to take underwater pictures. This universal waterproof case fits all varieties of smartphones and keeps phones perfectly dry, even underwater.

4. Scarf with hidden zipper pocket – When we first learned about hidden pocket scarves, we were thrilled to finally leave the old-fashioned travel belt behind! A hidden pocket scarf is a stylish decoy and is even more subtle than the traditional travel belt. We love this one with two well-concealed pockets and a variety of colors and patterns to choose from.

5. Door Stop Security Alarm – Help ensure peace of mind with this doorstop alarm. If the door is opened unexpectedly, an alarm will sound. This one is an affordable and high-quality version.

6. Quick-dry Travel Towel – A quick-dry towel is an essential item on any woman’s travel packing list. Help get their travel kit started with this budget-friendly but high-quality option. This version includes 3 various sizes, perfect for camping, hiking, or long backpacking trips.
7. Portable Luggage Scale – On more than one occasion, we have been desperate to calculate our luggage weight before the airport to avoid excessive baggage fees. A portable luggage scale has solved our problems and prevented us from frantically reshuffling our luggage items in the airport departure hall! This version by etekcity has never failed us.

Travel Gifts for Women in the $20-$50 Range

8. Portable Power BankIt’s a backpacker’s worst nightmare: scrambling to find the hostel address while your phone’s battery slowly ticks lower and lower. An external power source is one of the most useful gadgets for female travel lovers. The Anker Power Core 10000 is our favorite in terms of power capacity and compact size.

9. Scratch Off World MapHelp the world traveler in your life display their past adventures and get inspiration for where to head next. We have had this one hanging in our living room for years and love taking it down to commemorate when we travel to new places.
Scratch-off map, a fun backpacker gift

10. Travel Size First Aid Kit – For minor injuries, a travel-sized first aid kit is a practical and savvy choice. This one has the most bang for your buck in terms of items, affordable price, and compact size

11. Sleep Eye MaskWe wouldn’t dream of boarding an international flight without our own personal sleep mask. It makes all the difference when it comes to avoiding jet lag and adjusting to new time zones. It blocks out light and helps us achieve deep sleep – even when our airplane seat neighbor insists on staying up all night watching movies. This version comfortably wraps around your head and is contoured to the face for a comfortable fit. 

12. Adjustable Travel PillowThe next generation of airplane pillows, this one is made with memory foam and can be molded into different shapes to be used for your neck, lumbar, or leg support. The cover is removable and washable, making it one of the best backpacking gifts.
Practical backpacking gift - a neck pillow for long journeys

13. Outdoor Bluetooth SpeakerWe love this version which has a 100-foot wireless range, and which produces crystal-clear stereo sound.

14. Books to inspire travel – While the COVID pandemic still lingers, help soothe their Wanderlust with a travel-themed book like National Geographic Destinations of a Lifetime, or 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. These also make gorgeous coffee table books to display their love for travel when the woman in your life is just relaxing at home.

15. Lifestraw Water Filterspractical for camping, hiking, or traveling in places without safe drinking water. The lifestraw is a light-weight but life-saving addition to any backpacking kit.
Lifestraw - a potentialls life-saving backpacker gift

High-End Travel Gifts for Women

16. Apple Air Podsdefinitely on the pricey side but one of the newest travel gadgets for women and digital nomads who don’t want to have to deal with a mess of cables on the road.

17. Wireless HotspotThis 4G/LTE portable wireless hotspot is perfect for the digital nomad, travel blogger, or offroad adventurer.

18. Kindle Paperwhite1 Kindle can replace over 10,000 books. Your backpacker can load up thousands of titles, from casual reads to pass the long journeys, or travel guides. When space is essential, a kindle can be one of the most valuable items in their pack. This listing on amazon comes with a stylish leather cover in a variety of colors.
Practical backpacking gift - an e-reader!

19. Noise-cancelling headphones – The plane, train, or bus journey is sometimes the only chance a hard-core backpacker has to relax and recharge while on the road. These high-quality noise-cancelling headphones come in handy on long journeys when you just want to zone out.

20. DSLR Camera – One of the best starter DSLR cameras, this Lumix version is the top-rated model among amateur photographers. It is compact and packs a punch in terms of features, which can help the backpacker in your life take their travel photos to the next level.

Ultimate backpacking gift - a DSLR camera

 

21. Beginner’s Travel Telescope – Or the best gift of all during quarantine, a telescope to explore the night sky. This highly recommended amateur star-gazer model might help soothe the earthly wanderlust by allowing your backpacker to explore the craters of the moon, the moons of Jupiter, or the rings of Saturn.

22. GoPro Camera – One of the ultimate travel gifts for women, a GoPro camera is still the preferred way to document adventures among the travel community. The durable and compact GoPro cameras produce high-quality images and videos that can capture intense activities from sky diving to deep-sea diving.

And the Best Gift Travel Gift for Women: The Gift of Future Travel!

23. Travel Gift Certificate: Give the gift of future travel to the backpacker in your life by giving them a gift card to use on Get Your Guide, a tour and activity company that offers 35,000+ different experiences around the globe. The travel gift card is valid for up to 3 years from the date of purchase and can be redeemed for any of the experiences on Get Your Guide’s site for any time in the future when travel and backpacking become possible again!

Have you Caught the Travel Bug Yet?

If just scanning this list has gotten you excited to get out there and travel yourself, browse our extensive list of country guides for ideas on where to go next. Or scan our blog for inspirational travel itineraries, budget tips, and more!

If you’re new to backpacking, it can be hard to know what gear you need for days on the trail. Backpacking and outdoor sports are more popular than ever, and you’ve probably seen a huge number of companies advertising their hiking backpacks and touting all the spectacular features they have. While these backpacks are great, and they are necessary for some things like backpacking, you won’t always need to choose best, shiniest product on the market.

In some cases, yes, you can use a regular backpack for backpacking. If you aren’t doing any serious trips, won’t be in poor weather conditions, or just need to carry some extra things on an impromptu trek in the woods, a regular backpack is more than sufficient. However, if you are going for multiple days, carrying a lot of weight, or in bad weather, you may be thinking about choosing from the different types of backpacking packs.

Like always, that answer will vary based on your plans, distance traveled, and needs on your trip. A good rule of thumb is that under 5 miles, your regular backpacks will work relatively well. Beyond that, you’ll begin to notice discomfort, and may start wishing for the features of a proper backpacking packs. 

How Do I Know If I Need a Backpacking Pack?

How Do I Know If I Need a Hiking Backpack?

You may want to consider upgrading from a regular backpack if you’re taking longer backpacking trips and need more capacity, or you’re noticing discomfort due to the style of backpack you have chosen. Most types of backpacking packs have extra padding, straps, and a more ergonomic construction compared to a backpack you may just use for school books.

This means you can carry your gear for longer periods, and higher amounts of weight will be more comfortable to carry. If you’re backpacking for more than a day, or your pack is getting to be on the heavier side, you should probably start looking into a more suitable option than a regular backpack.

What features should I look for in a backpacking pack?

The most imperative thing is to simply plan for the trip you are taking. If you’re on a day hike, you need a much different pack than you would for backpacking. If you’re carrying heavy weight or traveling great distances in a day, a school backpack will likely become uncomfortable or challenging to use effectively. If your regular backpack is lacking in technical features or isn’t cutting it on your longer hikes, look out for backpacks with features like those listed below:

  • Top loading design
  • Extra pockets
  • Additional padding
  • Waist and/or sternum straps
  • Adjustability 
  • Water-bladder pocket/Hydration reservoir
  • Sleeping bag stash
  • Attachment points and/or tool loops
  • Raincover
  • Ventilation features
  • Greater variability of sizes
  • More comfortable weight distribution
  • Removable daypack

I also recommend a waterproof option if you expect a trip in less than perfect conditions. One positive is that many backpacks made for general use have hiking features, and there’s a good chance you may have a North Face or Osprey bag you use already around the house. If that’s the case, you’ve already got a great tool that will hold up to a lot of your needs.

What different types of backpacking packs are there?

Generally, backpacking packs are defined by their size and style. The 3 different types of backpacking packs are the external frame, internal frame, and frameless backpacks. As far as size, they are measured in liters and you will often see different sizes listed as Daypacks, weekend backpacks, multi-day backpacks, and extended trip/expedition packs.

The different styles of the frame can be confusing, especially if you don’t have experience backpacking or rucking. Frameless backpacks are very light with flexible construction and are designed to carry light loads. A frameless backpacking pack lacks any rods or frame sheets to distribute weight.

Yes! You can use a regular backpack for hiking

They generally don’t hold more than 40 liters and are not meant to carry a heavy load. Internal frame backpacks are the most popular type of backpacking pack available, and feature a more rigid construction that distributes weight more, and keeps the backpacking pack from collapsing. They’re often made with a frame-sheet on the inside. External frame packs feature a frame often made of aluminum on the outside, with a harness attached to it.

They’re used for carrying very heavy loads. They are not as commonly available in modern times, but some companies still offer this style due to their highly adjustable style, and customizable nature.

Sizes are often defined as follows: daypacks (1 day or less) are what you use for very short adventures, and often hold under 30 liters. A weekend pack (1-3 days) measures about 30-50 liters. Multi-day backpacks (3-5 days) hold 50-80 liters, and extended trip backpacks (5+ days) hold 70+ liters.

Depending on your needs and what outdoor sport you perform, you obviously may need a larger or smaller pack. For instance, if you’re a climber and need to carry ropes, shoes, harnesses, protection, and so on, a bigger backpacking pack may be necessary.

Many people also prefer small packs in which they carry very little gear so they can travel faster. You can choose a smaller pack if you’re disciplined about what you pack and comfortable with a lack of supplies. The reverse also works, if you want a more comfortable experience and you’re alright with the extra weight. 

Each option has its advantages, but the average hiker will be perfectly fine with a mid-sized, internal frame backpack. This is what makes up the vast majority of the market, and most people won’t need anything beyond that. 

What brands to look at for a backpacking pack?

I can’t give you a fully comprehensive list of brands that will suit every need you may have backpacking, but generally, you’ll see excellent products in outdoor stores, or from the companies, you commonly associate with outdoor products. Ideally, I would recommend going to a local outdoor store and seeing what packs fit you comfortably and suit your needs, but researching products online is a great option. You should choose your backpack based on your specific needs.

With all the different types of backpacking packs, there are a massive number of brands, and I’m just going to list a few. If you choose a backpacking pack from a brand that isn’t listed, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad option. I still recommend looking for reviews online or checking forums for information. Another great method is to see what type of pack people in your area or sport use. A few brands to check out are below:

  • Osprey
  • REI
  • North Face
  • Patagonia
  • Hyperlite Mountain Gear
  • Granite Gear
  • Mountainsmith
  • Deuter
  • Mystery Ranch
  • ULA Equipment

One thing you may have noticed is that many of these companies make “regular” backpacks that you may see daily. For me, seeing North Face, Osprey, Patagonia, and REI packs on a school campus was never uncommon. I even use a North Face backpack when going on short hikes or to carry gear when bouldering. My North Face pack is just a mid-sized backpack with hiking features, and it works great if I’m not on a longer trip.

A “regular” backpack from an outdoor gear company generally has several hiking features like waist straps, extra pockets, and so on. If you’re just going on some moderate hikes where you need to carry a bit of gear, you probably already have a backpack in this style that you can use. 

Should I choose an internal or external frame pack?

Generally, most hiking backpacks these days are internal frames, but there are still some models featuring an external frame. If you aren’t aware, external frame packs are a style of a backpack that features a frame on the outside of the pack, generally constructed out of aluminum or composite material.

There’s also often space on the frame above or below the pack itself so you can attach larger gear like backpacking tents or sleeping bags. They were once the standard for backpacking, and they’re generally meant to be used for heavier loads. You can sometimes find external frame packs for a cheaper price compared to internal frame packs, but since internal frames are so common now that isn’t as true as it once was. 

If you’re in the market for a hiking backpack and aren’t sure if you should get an external frame model, just consider what activities you will be performing, and how much weight you will carry. This type of backpacking pack is spectacular for long trips and heavy loads, but for an average hike, they are completely unnecessary.

There’s a good chance you’ve never even seen an external frame backpacking pack in a store. If you happen to try one and find it comfortable, there’s no problem using it, just keep in mind they’re generally for more serious adventures. Another thing to note, there are frameless backpacks as well, but they are generally designed for very light loads. 

Are there any alternatives to backpacking packs?

If you’re on a short trip but you don’t want to carry a traditional backpack, you may be wondering what alternatives are available. While backpacks are the best option for most scenarios, there are some alternatives. Shoulder/sling bags are a smaller option that can be easier to carry than a two-strap backpack, and they’re excellent if you don’t have much you want to carry.

Lumbar packs are another alternative. They sit in the lumbar area of the back and are smaller capacity options that may be more comfortable for you. Fanny packs are another good choice if you don’t have many pockets but you want to carry some essentials on the trail. Each of these options comes in several sizes from reputable outdoor companies, but it’s important to note that most of these products hold under 20 liters. 

Conclusion

It can be difficult to know if your backpack will work on the trail, or if you need to invest in a new type of backpacking pack to hike in. With outdoor sports being so popular, and more options available than ever, it may be tempting to choose a fancy hiking backpack for your next trek in the woods. Personally, I think that you’ll know when your pack isn’t working. For most of my days outside, a simple North Face backpack with fairly basic features is more than sufficient.

I can fit most of my hiking gear on or in it, and it’s comfortable for day hikes. Once you get into the range of multi-day trips, backpacking adventures, or have a lot of gear, it becomes apparent that a hiking backpack is necessary. Without the extra features, you’ll likely become uncomfortable, or leave out a necessary piece of gear. I always recommend further research, and it’s imperative to choose a backpack that is comfortable for you. If your bag isn’t comfortable, then there’s little chance you’re going to enjoy a great day in nature.

Most travelers dream of hitting the road with the most essentials packed into the lightest load. When planning to travel with only the necessities on your back, deciding what you need to bring on your trip can be an overwhelming process.

You shouldn’t carry too much unnecessary weight on your back or worse, heavy items that take up so much space that you miss out on packing essentials such as sunblock, insect repellant, or your handy pocket knife.

So before you hit the road, run through your backpacking checklist and start filling it up with some of this essential gear.

If you are a first-time backpacker, one of the most important things to start early on is a visa, and if you’re traveling to a neighboring country or going on an expedition with a group of people, it is important that all your travel documents are correctly collated.

Check iVisa.com to apply for your eVisa and Health Declaration.

Here is a list of items that you can pack that will make your trip a light one:

A durable backpack

Your backpack has to fit your body (height and torso length) properly and brave the elements like rain, dust, and a heavy fall if need be. Also, make sure to get a bag that has many zip-up pockets and compartments for optimal packing.

Sleeping bag

Sleeping bags come in a variety of sizes, either spacious or streamlined, and a wide range of materials. For a backpacker traveler, sleep is very important, so you won’t sleep well if you’re cold, so consider these key factors when picking one:

  • Rate of temperature: you should pick a sleeping bag rated a bit lower than the typical low temperatures you anticipate.
  • Insulation type: The big choice is between down or synthetic. Synthetic offers solid performance at an affordable price, but down is more sought after because it’s lighter and more compressible.
  • Weight: The quality of your insulation and the cut of your bag are big factors. When you are comparing weights also compare bags with a similar temperature rating.

First-Aid Kit and Toiletry Bag

Your personal hygiene and safety should come first, so your toiletries and first-aid kit are very important. Make sure to pack a bar of soap, disinfectant, hand sanitizer, toothbrush, and toothpaste, toilet paper, wipes, moisturizer, as well as any prescription medications you may need. Take along an SPF-rated sunscreen and lip balm.

Clothing and footwear

When packing clothing, pack according to the predicted weather. Keep in mind that gentle hikes on smooth trails usually require hiking shoes or trail runners while steep hikes on rocky, rugged trails will likely require a sturdy pair of hiking boots.