Backpacking as a beginner?

I would like to start getting into backpacking. It's starting to get nice out and I'd like to plan a little trip. I've been hiking/camping before but never backpacking. I basically just want to do a short one night thing being it would be my first time. I understand the basics of what I would need for gear etc. But any other advice would be great.

Also, my plan would be to go just myself and my dog. I do have a pistol I would carry along if it's permitted where I decide to go. Is this unwise? Is backpacking alone really that dangerous?

Like i said, I wouldn't be going really far or anything. I just want to go for a short little day and a half trip to get a feel for it.

Any tips/advice/ideas would be appreciated!


3 Answers

  • 6 years ago
    Best Answer

    Backpacking is great. I hope you have lots of fun.

    There is a reason adventures are called adventures. There are risks, and the more you know and are prepared to respond to them, then the safer you can be.

    A pistol is a good idea. I prefer a 357 mag for most woods. Your biggest risk is probably from people.

    Your dog may help, depending on the breed and the dog. You don't want one that chases deer or brings bear back to you. They do hear, smell, sense things typically before you do, so a great early warning.

    Bears, keep a food-clean camp. Suspend your food about 20 foot up between trees and 100 feet from camp. Know how to read them. Search youtube.

    Hypothermia or hyperthermia is probably the largest risk. Stay dry and will hydrated.

    Water: finding, filtering, purifying

    Food. I like to keep my simple and be able to eat most of it without required cooking, like nuts, oatmeal and Top Ramen. The simplest I've done is to simply make a half a loaf of sandwiches. I like cheese, and peanut butter mixed with honey. Trail mix is handy, and some jerky for savory. You can slice some jerky into the ramen. For times when you need more calories, a bottle of olive oil is handy. I like mine in the oatmeal and soups, any dish really. You can even just take a swig if you need some energy. The oil can be flavored ahead of time if you like with garlic and herbs.

    Cinnamon is great in the oatmeal. Honey is very versatile too. Together they help with insect bites.

    Fruit for an overnighter is easier and healthier than dried fruit. Oranges or apples pack well. Dried fruit doesn't melt like chocolate. Peanut MMs are an option.

    Youtube has a lot of info. Search for Dave Canterbury for some basics. He's good at camping, basic navigation. Others are better when you want to cover more ground.

    5C's of Survivability Quick Run Down1; conserve hydration and energy by having difficult to duplicate

    Youtube thumbnail


    10 Piece Emergency Kit: compass, sighting/emerg signal mirror, 3x3' cotton bandana, candle/headlamp, cloth-sail needle 3-side magnetized emerg compass, cargo/duct tape

    Youtube thumbnail


    Self-reliant living, useful plants, DIY, emerg prep, survival skills, kits, tips

    Check list, day hikers is usually sufficient:

    British 10 essentials with rifle

    Youtube thumbnail

    In my pockets when camping/hiking; otherwise in the survival-pouch:

    Medium locking pocket knife carbon steel for striking ferro rod

    2 Bic, lockable lighters

    On a key ring: whistle, P38 can opener, micro-lockable light, small compass

    Map when hiking/needed, detailed contour

    Belt pouch:

    1 30gal garbage bag for emergency rain gear, shelter, and sun-water stills

    3 1qt zip lock bags: hold other things, dry TP, emerg water containers/purify in direct sun light 6hrs

    Iodine for fast water purification, healthier than bleach

    2 more lighters, ferro rod & magnifying lens for fire starting

    Compass with mirror, emerg signaling; Suunto MC-2G is best pick and has a lens to start fires, Silva works (no lens)

    Large metal spoon

    Superglue for emergency repairs, including stitches and blisters (research vet use)

    Hard candy

    Fish hooks & line

    Cordage, thin, 3ply bank line

    Sail needle, large, magnetized (emerg compass), used with paracord strands for sewing repairs, blisters

    Flashlight, 2 AA with headband, extra batteries, spare bulb is in handle

    Butt pack, one big compartment, wide belt, no bottle holders, collapses small, light weight, loops for attaching larger coat

    (with me on airlines (minus knives), a pillow when camping)

    I rarely leave camp without it when in remote areas

    1st Water bottle, metal for boiling water (plastic when flying, it may get tossed)

    1 50gal 3ply drum liner

    Food: nuts, trail mix, protein bars, lunch

    Paracord 10', seven strand

    Handkerchief, 3'x3' 100% cotton, filter water, shade neck, char for tender, emerg sun hat/glasses

    Underlayer shirt, thin, warm, long-sleeved

    Knife sharpener, small

    Bug repellant, natural: tree oil, geraniol or oil, lemon eucalyptus

    Thin warm long-sleeved top

    Optional, or in daypack:

    Wool gloves & baklava for emerg overnighters

    Rain gear, light-weight, hooded-top & bottoms

    Summer: ball cap, sunglasses, sunscreen

    Sheath knife (6" heavy blade, full tang, full guard)

    Drag rope handle (2' 3/4" or 6' 3/4" around waist), calls

    Light-weight handgun, 22mag like a Smith 351 PD, or 357mag on my belt, ammo


    Daypack, hiking:

    Water: 2nd bottle and 1 gal-collapsible canteen or camelback

    Sealable 1-gal bags, store clothes, emerg water bags

    Floatation: pack may fall in stream/water, you may need to swim across some water

    Dry bag, doubles as bucket and extra water carrier

    Paracord 20' and bank line 50', shelter, traps, etc.

    Metal cup, only needed if you're boiling wild food, or easier to boil water for bottles

    Leather gloves, with wool inserts very versatile

    First-aid: tweezers (splinters, ticks), bandaids, single-edge razor, polysporin,

    pain pills, antihistamine, large safety pins, tampon (big puncture wound, tender, plastic sure fire), in qt bag

    Baking soda with a little salt & salt sub (potassium): for teeth, anti-diarrhea, emerg rehydrate, mixed with honey for stings, research 25 uses

    Duct tape 10', Gorilla brand, repairs & first aid: bandage blisters, wrap sprained ankle

    25 uses:

    Nitrile gloves, emerg waterproof gloves, cold rain/streams, resists chemicals/blood

    head-bug net

    Socks, wool, doubles as mittens

    Spare AA batteries

    Swim suit/shorts (with top makes for complete change of clothes)

    Optional: Leatherman, small vise grips or pliers are handy for cooking canned food in the fire

    Bivy water-resistant bag and/or rain poncho/tarp

    When fishing: gear


    Large cargo bag for sleeping gear & butt pack for day hikes, or even the daypack

    Middle layer jacket, or coat

    Sleeping bags: I have two: 2lb (summer), 4lb (Fall), combine for winter

    Pad, optional unless it snows

    Tent or tarp

    Optional change of clothes, could be left in car, nice to get back to car with more water, food, and a change if wanted

    Hope these help. Enjoy!

    • ExploringLife
      Lv 7
      6 years agoReport

      You're welcome!

      I did notice you are a woman. There is more motivation for someone to do something bad to you, and you may not have quite as much strength to get something done, so be more aware and smarter about what you do to compensate. Never be in la-la land, even when you're sleeping.

  • T F
    Lv 4
    6 years ago

    I backpack solo all the time but, like most anything, there's a learning curve. So the fact that you seem to want to keep it relatively short and easy is the right way to go.

    So it's nothing more than checking out your local trails and letting it rip. Most areas will have forums on line where hikers and backpackers hook up to share trip info and stuff. Obviously, state/national parks and forests will give you a ton of information about where you can go.

    The main things to think about are obviously weather and water. More than likely, you'll pack far too much on your first trips. After a while you'll learn more about what you really need. Pack weight is a major consideration. Also make sure to check out any fire restrictions that might be in effect. Some only allow campfires in iron rings and in some areas they're banned altogether at certain times of the year.

    Personally I'd suggest not going with your dog until you have the routine down a bit more. Remember, when you're backpacking solo you don't have a safety net so try to do everything consciously. As an example, it's easy to move to quickly when you're making your food. Knock your food off the stove in to the dirt and you're going hungry. Not paying attention on the trail, twist your ankle, and you have a problem. Backpacking solo has taught me to be a much better hiker and more cognizant of my surroundings.

    Backpacking alone is not dangerous as long as you understand that you are responsible for you. To tell you the truth, I far prefer it than going with a partner. Actually heading to Sequoia in the morning for a few days and get to deal with a snowstorm that is rolling through. Should be interesting.

    In terms of animals and such, nothing to worry about. If you're in bear country you'll need to learn how to hang a bear bag that will contain ANYTHING with a scent. And in terms of guns? No man. I've never understood that. If it's bears you're worried about then carry spray. Far more effective and way lighter.

    Pack out EVERYTHING. Nothing gets left behind and, for me, that includes toilet paper. Make sure to know where you can crap too (away from water sources)

    The first time you go you'll probably freak out a bit at night. Every noise sounds threatening. But remember, it's probably just a rabbit. :)

    Great that you're looking to go it alone man. It's worth it. Believe me.

  • chris
    Lv 7
    6 years ago

    Back packing is a blast that is for sure, so lets go over your multiple questions,

    1. Your dog. That is fine but most wildlands require you to keep it on a leash. also get a dog backpack so fido can carry his own food. Leashes are not for your protection but mine most folks don't like being attacked by fido. It is for that reason,

    2. That I carry a small pistol, a .38 sub compact to dispatch loose dogs and crazy drug nuts wandering the forests. You will also need to have a CCW permit if hikeing in any national park in order to carry a handgun.

    3. Where to go is simple use a trail finder,

    More advice needed? look here tons of info,

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