Backpacking the Trails

backpacking the trailsBackpacking involves hiking the trails and really about experiencing the wonders of the outdoors. You start at a trailhead and start hiking the trail system — in a national park, national forest, wilderness, etc. As you are hiking, you really start to appreciate nature and the beautiful views.

Backpacking doesn’t have to be a long mileage trip — it can be a short one too. The goal is to reach a campsite or decide where to dispersed camp. Then have a good time at camp, looking at the stars — if you can. The next day, you continue hiking, either to the next campsite or back to the trailhead.

Backpacking the trails can’t be possible without a backpack — hence the word backpacking. It’s about experiencing the outdoors in the backcountry. You have to figure out what kind of trail loop you will take or will it be a one way trip — like a thru-hike.


The Backcountry

Backpacking is all about hiking in the backcountry. The backcountry is a place where there is no modern conveniences — no roads, no people (except you), no cell signal, no restrooms, and no established campsites. The only campsites you will find are primitive campsites — a clearing in the woods and maybe a firepit. That is where you setup camp for the night. Being in the backcountry can be exciting as you experience solitude and enjoy the surroundings.

Backcountry

You’re alone with no distractions from everyday life. But you have to be cautious of bears or other wildlife and watch your footing as you hike — as help may take a long time to reach you. That’s why it’s a great idea to bring a satellite messenger or a personal locator beacon (PLB) transponder.


The Backpack

In order to go backpacking, you need a backpack. Not just any backpack as you would use for work or school — you need a backpack for backpacking outdoors. They come in many sizes — they’re measured by liters — it could be from 40 liters to 100 liters. Usually, the average liters people carry are from 50 to 70. Whether you’re going ultralight or fully loaded — a backpack is obviously needed to hold your gear, food, and more.

Review Formula


Hiking the Trails

Hiking is the primary activity of backpacking. Really it’s an elaborate word for walking — but with a backpack on your back. You follow a trail and depending on the terrain — it can be easy or challenging. But everyone is up for a challenge, right? OK, maybe not everyone.

Hiking TrailThe trails can be well marked and easy to follow — as in the Great Smoky Mountains. Other times, it can be difficult to follow a clear path — and it’s why the trail system has blazes on the trees — as in the Cranberry Wilderness in West Virginia. Usually it’s either blue, yellow, or some kind of color.

Even so, it’s a great idea to bring a compass, map, and even a GPS. but a GPS is not absolute necessary. In most cases, the trails are usually easy to follow. Just have fun hiking along and taking in nature.

The Loop

When you go on a backpacking trip, you have to decide what trails to take. In other words, you need to make a loop from the trailhead, follow some of the trails, and reach back to the starting trailhead. In figuring out what trails to take, you need to keep in mind where you will camp, how many nights camping, and the miles you think will work for you.

For example, day one, I may do 8 miles, reach camp. Day two, I may do 10 miles, reach second camp. Day three, I may do 5 miles back to the trailhead and end my backpacking trip. And that would be my loop.

Thru-Hiking

Of course you may not be doing a loop and instead may be doing a thru-hike — hiking point A to B on a one way trip. Thru-hiking is different than doing a ordinarily loop. It involves hiking for miles on end, weeks on end, and may take several months to complete. A good example of thru-hiking, would be hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. That’s a long distance — and so it will take a few months to complete. Most people don’t end up finishing the thru-hike in one trip.

But hiking the Appalachian Trail is an extreme example of a thru-hike. Thru-hiking can be a whole lot shorter. For example, the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail in Pennsylvania. It usually takes 5–7 days to complete and is about 70 miles.


Camping

Once you’ve decided enough hiking for the day. It’s time to setup camp. Find a place that is clear and get your tent or hammock out. Setting up shelter is the first priority. Then find a place away from your campsite, to hang your bear bag — at least get it ready. You still need your food to eat dinner or whatnot. Once your done eating for the night — hang the food and any odorous items in the bear bag. You don’t want any odorous items at your campsite.

Camp Fire

The bears can easily smell it — so get the food and stuff away from your campsite. In the morning, go retrieve your bear bag, cook or eat breakfast, and enjoy the rest of your trip backpacking the trails. But, while you’re at camp, just enjoy your time and take a look at the stars.


Summary

backpacking the trailsBackpacking involves hiking the trails and really about experiencing the outdoors. You start at a trailhead and start hiking the trail system. You really start to appreciate nature and the beautiful views, as your hiking. Backpacking doesn’t have to be a long mileage trip — it can be a short one too.

The goal is to reach a campsite or decide where to dispersed camp. Then have a good time at camp, looking at the stars — if you can. The next day, you continue hiking, either to the next campsite or back to the trailhead. Backpacking the trails is a fantastic thing to do and feeling the sense of solitude in the backcountry is amazing. What are you waiting for? Start your own backpacking adventure and embrace the outdoors!

READ MORE ABOUT THE BACKCOUNTRY

Now you know what Backpacking is about — What about the Backcountry?


What Do You Think About Backpacking?
If you have any questions or comments about backpacking, please leave them in the comments below. I will be more than happy to help you out.

6 comments

  • Terri~

    Great site! I have always wanted to do backpacking, spend the night and make it last just a couple of days. I guess my big question is this…what do you bring for food typically for an overnight trip where you are hiking 2 full days? It also never occurred to me to hang the food items in a bag out of the way of your campsite in case of bears or other predators. Yikes! Thanks for your information.

    • Hi Terri,

      Thank you for your comment. Yes, you always want to hang your food, after you’re done with it, away from camp. Having a bear at camp, where you sleep, wouldn’t be fun.

      The food you would bring, when you go backpacking, would be dehydrated freeze dried food — brands like Mountain House. Basically, you just boil water at camp and add into the food pouch and 7 minutes later, you have a hydrated hot meal. Other foods to bring are anything that you can find at your grocery store — that all you need to do is add water. Examples might include: mac n’ cheese, mashed potatoes, ramen noodles, etc. For breakfast and snacks, you can bring granola bars, trail mix, pop tarts, cookies, jerky, and the list goes on. Oh, a Snickers bar is a great morale boost when on the trail.

      As for me, I like to take maybe honey buns, cinnamon rolls, oatmeal, ramen noodles, Mountain House dehydrated meals, and snacks like I mentioned. As you have read, you can be really creative when deciding what foods to bring.

      Mike

  • NemiraB

    Hello here. It seems that you are really enthusiastic about backpacking and being ready to explore new destinations. I wonder if you travel by yourself? It is safe being alone in the wild country? Maybe crazy people do not wander around looking for easy target. You talk about stars. I think that seeing stars is a luxury to those who live in cities. Previously we camped with friends, but never alone. I guess bad news on TV make us feel unsafe everywhere. Thanks for the tips and described benefits hiking on the trails. All the best, Nemira.

    • Usually I’m on my own. Yeah, it’s safe — safer than walking around a run down neighborhood. Obviously, you’re safer with more people. That’s why I carry a GPS Satellite Messenger, like the Spot Gen3. As far as “crazy people” on the trail, well I never ran into one. Peace, Mike.

  • Lanta Eco News

    This sounds like a wonderful adventure and a great way to disconnect from the modern world and recharge your batteries. You would have to really know what you’re doing though, be good at planning and navigation. The bears sound very worrying! Have you encountered them before? It sounds like it would definitely be necessary to do some research about how to react if you do come across them. Do they steal food from the bear bags often? I can imagine that waking up to find your breakfast has been stolen by a bear must be pretty annoying!

    • Yes, it does require a lot of planning ahead of time. As far as concerning the bears, very rarely, will they be a problem with people. Although, I did encountered a bear at a hotel in downtown Gatlinburg, Tennessee. I must have been within 20 feet and almost walked into it. Thankfully it went away — the only thing the bear did was made a grunt/snuff sound. Lastly, if you hang your food the proper way, they won’t be able to get to the bear bag or claw at it. Thanks for your comments and questions.

      Mike

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *