You Should Be Prepping Now for Your 2021 Backpacking Trip. Here's How

By Mekenna Malan | March 22, 2021

Preparing for a successful backpacking trip or thru-hike takes time, planning and supplies.

COVID has introduced new complications for obtaining backcountry permits and gear, so it's more important than ever to be prepared well ahead of your departure date. Preparing now will help ensure your backpacking trip is a successful and safe one.

1. KNOW YOUR ROUTE.

Assess your skills and limits honestly. Use a guidebook to plan your route, or a paper map and a compass. If you aren't comfortable using a paper map, there are plenty of navigational apps you can use instead (we recommend Gaia, AllTrails or Guthook Guides - these maps can be downloaded and used while your phone is on airplane mode).

Once you've identified your proposed route, be sure to do the following:
- Research the best time of year to hike your route and get prepared for the weather conditions you will encounter during those months.
- Research the experiences of others who have completed your proposed route. Identify whether or not you're willing to encounter the same terrain and obstacles.
- Identify approximately how many miles you are planning to hike each day.
- Identify approximately where you are planning to camp each night.

2. IDENTIFY WATER SOURCES ALONG YOUR ROUTE.

One of the most important parts of route planning is identifying the water sources along your route. It is recommended that you drink at least four liters of water per day while hiking. Other factors to consider: How many miles will you have to hike between each water source? What is the temperature, sun exposure and elevation of the trail and how will that affect your hydration? Depending on these factors, you may want to bring along a water filter.

3. RESERVE ANY NECESSARY PERMITS.

Identify any permits you will need to acquire in order to hike and camp on your proposed route. It's important to reserve these permits in advance, especially if you're planning on hiking and camping in a popular area.

4. BUY YOUR GEAR.

In 2021, it’s more important than ever to buy the gear you need for your trip with plenty of time to spare. COVID-related complications have resulted in longer-than-usual wait times for outdoor products like tents, water storage systems and backpacks. When it comes to exposing yourself to the harsh elements you'll encounter on a backpacking trip, it's important to bring along gear you can trust. We've hand-selected a few tried-and-true products below that won't let you down.

Fjallraven - Abisko Friluft 35
Fjallraven - Abisko Friluft 35
Fjallraven - Abisko Friluft 35
Fjallraven - Abisko Friluft 35

Fjallraven - Abisko Friluft 35

Big Agnes - Anvil Horn 30 (650 DownTek)
Big Agnes - Anvil Horn 30 (650 DownTek)
Big Agnes - Anvil Horn 30 (650 DownTek)
Big Agnes - Anvil Horn 30 (650 DownTek)
Big Agnes - Anvil Horn 30 (650 DownTek)

Big Agnes - Anvil Horn 30 (650 DownTek)

Nemo - Fillo
Nemo - Fillo
Nemo - Fillo
Nemo - Fillo
Nemo - Fillo
Nemo - Fillo

Nemo - Fillo

Hydrapak - Shape Shift 2L
Hydrapak - Shape Shift 2L

Hydrapak - Shape Shift 2L

5. TRAIN TO DECREASE THE RISK OF INJURY.

There's nothing more disappointing than putting money and time into a backpacking trip that gets cut short due to an injury. Prior to hitting the trail, increase your endurance and strength by going on practice hikes a few times a week. It's a good idea to complete these hikes with a pack on. If you're a beginner, you can gradually increase the weight of your pack until the weight is comparable to what you'll be carrying on the trail. Stretch often in the weeks leading up to your departure, and here's a pro tip: use a lacrosse ball on the soles of your feet to stretch out the muscles there and prep them for long miles of walking.

6. HAVE AN EMERGENCY PLAN IN PLACE.

Know your outs. From point A to point B, identify the ways you can get back to civilization or get help if something goes wrong. It's a good idea to leave a detailed map of your route in your car before you start hiking. Be sure to tell at least one friend about your route and provide them with nearby emergency contact information if you miss a check-in. Lastly, it's highly recommended to bring along a personal satellite communicator as a last-resort option in case of an emergency.

7. RESEARCH "LEAVE NO TRACE" PRINCIPLES.

When engaging in any outdoor activity, it's important and ethical to reduce your impact on the land. Before you go, familiarize yourself with the seven LNT principles here.

HAVE QUESTIONS OR NEED ADVICE?

Whether you're a novice overnight backpacker or a seasoned thru-hiker, we've got the gear you need for your upcoming backpacking trip. We love hearing about your latest plans and are always willing to share recommendations for local hikes and backpacking trails, as well as tips and tricks to help your adventure run smoothly. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to call or come see us!

Shop all backpacking gear here.

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