With a little effort and planning, anyone can enjoy the experience of a backpacking adventure. A well-planned trip will allow you not only to see beautiful sites but stay safe along the way. Here are a few insights and suggestions to help you ensure your backpacking trip is a safe one.
Never backpack alone
Always backpack in a group and/or with other travelers; there is truth to the adage, “there is safety in numbers”.
Gear and gadgets to keep you safe
In addition to packing the right clothes, food, etc., there are a few items no backpacker should be without. This includes:
- A first aid kid.
- A whistle to alert others in the area/in your party that you are in trouble and need assistance.
- Plenty of clean drinking water; even the clearest of streams can hold bacteria which can make you ill.
- A compass (that you know how to use).
- A topographical map of the area.
- Matches (packed in waterproofing).
- A pocket knife.
- Torch (flashlight)
- A bandana (can serve as a tourniquet if someone is injured).
- Insect repellent.
Also, be sure to invest in a good backpack that distributes the weight evenly across your back to help prevent muscle strain.
Planning your trip
A well-planned trip is a safer trip, so it is important to plan yours properly. This includes finding the right backpacking partners. If you are new to backpacking, ask someone who has the experience to join the group. Otherwise, select people who are compatible in terms of hiking speed, distance capabilities, and willingness. Also, consider the distance – some people like to pack lighter and go further while others prefer short trips.
Other planning activities include:
- Determine duration, timing, and destination.
- Learn the area (know where you are going) and study topographical maps.
- Check equipment and ensure everything is in good working condition.
- Check clothing to ensure it is in good condition and appropriate for the trip.
- Compare gear with hiking partners and share where possible.
- Determine sleeping points and book hotels/hostels/campgrounds.
- Plan your meals.
Other key advice includes:
- Do not bring a tent that has had food in it (bears will be able to smell it in the material).
- Leave a detailed itinerary with someone who is not going on the trip: route, inventory, sleep points, expected return.
- Log on (if/when possible) and blog or webcam to let friends/family know you are okay.
Consider staying in a hotel
When backpacking, one of your biggest concerns will be where to sleep and the safest place is in a hotel. We realize that for many who are on a tight budget, the idea of staying in a hotel can be a budget killer. But it does not need to be. There are sites online where you can compare cheap hotels in the areal so as part of your planning stage, look for hotel deals along your backpacking route. By choosing to stay in a hotel at least for part of your journey, you are ensuring that you are as safe as possible during periods of rest and sleep.