6 Practical Backpacking Tips That Could Save Your Life

backpacking tips

backpacking tips

If you’re looking for a healthy way to get outdoors and explore nature,  hiking and backpacking fit the bill. The U.S. alone has over 18,000 miles of hiking trails. 

Although backpacking is safe, preparation is key. If you’re inexperienced, acquaint yourself with lifesaving tips before you hit the trail. 

Read on for 6 practical backpacking tips that could save your life!

1. Carry the 10 Essentials

Preparation means carrying the right equipment. There are 10 things you should always have in your pack:

  • Water (and purifier)
  • Food
  • Pocketknife
  • Lighter/matches
  • Map and compass
  • Sunglasses/sunscreen
  • Headlamp
  • Raincoat
  • Extra clothes
  • First-aid kit with a whistle

Always have water purification tablets and keep matches in a water-tight container. 

A sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and small tent are also good gear, even for day hikers. If you get lost, you’ll have a warm, weather-safe place for sleeping. 

2. Start Small and Local

Hone your hiking chops on small trails in local areas, if possible. Keep to the low-risk trails until you’ve got some experience under your belt. 

Choose popular trails that have other hikers so someone can help you if you have problems.

3. Sign the Register

Most major trails have trailhead registers. Sign the register before starting up the trail. If someone reports you missing, park rangers will know where to look if you’ve signed the register.

Let a trusted friend or relative know where and when you’re going hiking. Let him know your planned route with detailed information about when and where you plan on finishing your hike.

4. Understand Your Equipment

Your 10 essentials are only as good as your ability to use them. A map and compass are worthless if you don’t understand them. 

There are subtle points to reading a hiking map. Do you understand the contour lines? 

Learn how to use your compass and map together so you can get a bearing of where you are on the trail. Compare the trail to the map at regular intervals so you know where you are on the map. 

5. Your Cellphone

Bring your cellphone but don’t rely on it! Many hiking trails don’t have cellphone service. There’s also no electricity in the woods. 

Take a small battery backup. 

While on the trail, stop often, turn around, and take a few photos of where you came from. If you get lost, this is invaluable information for finding your way back. 

6. Check the Weather

Don’t guess when it comes to the weather. Check the weather every day for several days before your hike or backpacking trip. 

Most people hate canceling plans but you shouldn’t hesitate to cancel if the weather looks bad. Heading into bad weather on any hiking trail is dangerous. 

Backpacking Tips for a Safe Trip

Preparation and information are your best friends when it comes to backpacking. These backpacking tips will help keep you safe while on the trail. 

Always take the 10 essentials, and consider taking a tent, sleeping bag, and pad. Start with small, local hikes for experience, and always sign the trailhead register. 

Understand your equipment, and don’t rely on your cellphone. Check the weather and cancel if it looks bad. 

Looking for more great survival tips? Keep reading our site