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5 Things To Pack for a Backpacking Trip

Whether you're planning an afternoon backpacking trip or spending months on the trails, the sport has shown to help people increase their physical fitness, lower stress, and feel happier in their lives. It's also an excellent way to bond with other people. Of course, if you've never gone backpacking before, you might be wondering just what you need to bring.

1. Portable, Non-Perishable Food

These days, packing food for your backpacking trips is much easier. Many camping foods are made in pouches that allow you to pour boiling water directly into the pouch and eat it from there, which means you create minimal dirty dishes to clean up after a long day of hiking. Gone are the days of franks and beans (unless you love them!). These days, you can find chicken alfredo, beef stroganoff, vegan recipes, and much more in ready-to-eat pouches. Typically, you'll save these types of meals for the evenings. During the daytime, you'll need easy-to-grab items that will help you keep your energy up. Think meal replacement shakes and high-energy foods like protein bars and trail mix. Remember to pack an extra day's worth of food to ensure you're prepared if you get delayed.

2. Plenty of Water Options

You'll need plenty of water to stay hydrated and safe while you're backpacking through your favorite trails. Of course, you want something eco-friendly as well. Skip the heavy plastic water bottles for something that is reusable, stands on its own when full, and rolls up to save space when empty. Paired with the right water treatment options and a river or stream, and you'll have plenty of safe drinking water whether you're on the trail for hours, days, or longer. As with food, be sure to bring enough extra supplies to last in case you are delayed.

3. Sleeping Items

At the end of a long day of hiking, you want to get a good night's rest to prepare for the next day. At the bottom of your backpack, pack your sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and pillow. Put them in a waterproof compression sack to protect them from the elements and take up less space in your backpack, then fill in the gaps on the side with loose clothing that you won't need to wear throughout the day. This keeps the shape of your pack while making the most of the space that you have. If you don't have a waterproof compression sack, using a regular one and lining your backpack with a trash bag will also help to protect it from the elements.

4. First Aid Items

Always keep a first aid kit at the top of your backpack. This way, it's easy to reach if you have an emergency situation. You can buy items separately and create your own first aid kit, but it is often more convenient and more affordable to purchase a pre-made kit. A good kit will contain a variety of wound care items, including antibiotic ointments, antiseptic wipes, gloves, and butterfly closure strips. It should also contain sterile dressing bandages, gauze bandages, and adhesive bandages in a range of sizes. Other first aid items to consider include adhesive tape, alcohol swabs, and pain medication.  

5. Personal Items

When it comes to personal items to take on your backpacking trip, it depends on what's important to you. Do you have prescription medication that you need to take with you? Perhaps you'd like to keep a journal about your trip. Hygiene items such as deodorant, soap, and a towel are also important. Consider what you need and what you want to take to determine how to best use your space. 

From the Appalachian Mountains to the Grand Canyon, there are hundreds of beautiful trails across the United States. Whether you're on a beginner's trip or you're a pro at backpacking trips, always be sure to pack only what you need most. This way, you can spend more time enjoying the trails and less time worrying about keeping track of your items.

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