Preparing for a backpacking outing can be a pain. There is equipment to collect, supplies to check, and meals to plan. What are your hesitations with preparing for an expedition? Do you tell yourself any of the following?
- My gear isn’t ready. I would probably need to run to the store. I might need to replace some items
- I would need to take some time to figure out where to go
- Backpacking is hard. Do I feel like walking up and down mountains all weekend?
A backpacker reluctant to prepare for the next jaunt could adopt the following strategies to enjoy more backpacking this year.
Reduce packing burden by preparing Grab & Go Gear
Pack your gear so it’s ready to go at any time. The thought of packing makes me groan. Who wants to review an equipment list, check the first aid kit, restock food, assemble the 37 items, and put them in the backpack? Packing is not fun.
Pack your backpack now, minus the food. That way, when you start to think about a return to the backcountry, it’s simply a matter of throwing some food in the pack. It’s one less thing to do before you can go backpacking.
Identify the next 3 backpacking expeditions
Always keep some trip options/locations in mind. Map out the details of how you would travel there, where would you park, what would you see, and how long it would take. Perhaps you could answer these questions during a frigid winter night when you are thinking about backpacking, but stuck at home. That way, when you do have a free weekend, you wouldn’t have to perform a literature search, weigh the options, and decide.
Create a list of trip goals
Look forward to trying something new on each outing. A backpacker could try a new piece equipment, prepare a new campfire dinner recipe, or strive to identify 5 new birds/trees/flowers. A backpacker could add a photo element to a trip by capturing sunsets, the night sky, or sunrises. New activities can make an excursion, even on a trail you’ve traveled, more enjoyable.
The First 40 Miles, a backpacking podcast, touches on this in episode 135, Dreaming of Trail Time. The podcasters discuss how to dream and identify goals.
Build in some down time
A backpacking trip doesn’t have to be a 15-mile a day grind up and down mountains. You could hike 5 miles (or 2 miles) into a spot, set up camp, and then simply experience the backcountry. Go ahead and end the day early and enjoy one or more of the following activities:
- Take photos so that you can tell the story of your journey
- Record the sounds of the wilderness
- Videotape a nearby waterfall
- Enhance your fly fishing skills
- Teach yourself fly fishing
- Write in your journal
- Start a journal
- Practice outdoor skills (e.g., start a campfire with just one match, master 5 new rope knots, navigate from point A to B with a compass)
- Ponder a difficult decision
- Take a siesta