I Survived My First Backpacking Trip...And You Can Too!
One can never really prepare for their first overnight backpacking trip without knowing what to expect. Even with advice from friends you will still forget something.
"It's the experience where you really learn what backpacking is all about."
On a recent trip to Havasupai Falls, Arizona, I was one of those people who forgot almost everything I should have brought and somehow managed to still pack way too much. Friends who went on previous trips seemed to have learned their lesson last year and I, in turn, paid my dues this year. I felt terrible bumming things like sunscreen, bandaids and snacks in the last few days of the trip. With a heavy pack and shoes that were a little too snug, I had aches and pains and blisters galore. It made exploring the falls, heck- even walking- a challenge!
When I returned home I made a list of everything that I wished I had on the trip. I hope that someone can benefit from this checklist. I know next time I go on a long backpacking trip, I will consult this list before I pack!
If you have any suggestions that I could add to this list, please leave a comment!
Must Have Gear:
- Good quality hiking shoes - It's best to test out your shoes with different socks and similar conditions prior to your trip.
- Sturdy flip flops - Your feet will need a break and flip flops give your feet room to breathe. These were definitely something I forgot.
- Decent water shoes- If near lakes, rivers or waterfalls and plan to do some explorin', you won't want to get your hiking boots wet so invest in a pair of these.
- Hiking Sandals such as the Keen brand are a great substitute for water shoes.
- Wool socks- one pair per day you hike. Wool is dry-wicking and supportive.
- Bring various weights of socks and extra pairs. It's important to change your socks daily.
- Camelbak/ small daypack with hydration system
- Small pillow (an inflatable pillow is good to save room in pack)
- Air mattress- Of course this may not be "roughing it" so consider this optional, but it's very nice to have when you hike all day and need to get a good night's rest.
- Air pump- For said air mattress
- Sheet for mattress- If your trip takes place in warm weather, you may not need a sleeping bag and just a sheet will do the trick.
- Lightweight sleeping bag- You may need a sleeping bag in colder weather, or if the temperature undergoes a drastic drop at night.
Eating and necessities:
- Mini Stove/ Jetboil- Where we were camping, no campfires are allowed, but these stoves are great!
- Reusable water bottles
- Stainless steel cup to eat from - popular style GSI Enamelware Mug
- Sponge/ cleanser
- Toilet Paper and Wet Ones- I was thankful that our campsite had outhouses, because the area was packed with campers and no one wants to see someone peeping while they are taking a squat.
- Bathing suit
- Dry-wicking/ light weight clothing
- Towel- If you are swimming and it gets cold, you will wish you had a towel.
- Small towels- To clean off face, feet, etc. They come in handy.
- Bandana- It was great for keeping the sun off my head and sweat out of my eyes.
Communication and electronics:
- Waterproof camera or bag/ case for smartphone and camera
- GoPro, extra batteries and SD cards
- Cell phone and solar charger - although don't plan on having cell service
- Walkie talkies- This is good for communication in larger groups or with family members.
Food to Bring When You Can't Have Campfires:
Think of how many days you will be gone and how many meals or snacks you want each day. I failed to do this and almost ran out of food. Having enough food is such a huge deal. It could be life or death. If you can't have campfires, think of items you can make with boiling water. Freeze-dried food will taste good and get you by for a few days, but you will start to crave other types of sustenance. So bring it along!
- Ramen noodles
- Tuna packets
- Dried fruit, Craisins, Apricots, Trail Mix, Peanuts, Pringles, Preztels, Pop Tarts, etc.
- Gatorade or EmergenC packets (20 packets or more) You will go through them fast. After a few days, water starts to get boring. You will want some flavoring and need the electrolytes.
- A box of granola bars, cereal bars or protein bars.
- Freeze-dried meals- Moutain House, Wise Foods, etc. (3 per day- look at the serving size. Most feed 2 people, but some are 1 or 1.5 servings)
- Beef Jerky (2-3 bags)
- Apple Sauce
- Silverware- If one person brings a box of plastic utencils, it's great for a large group.
- Cup to eat from
- Beverage of choice
- Goal Zero/ solar USB charger for devices and to charge your music source.
- Insulated cooler bag
- Sugar- if you are bringing coffee
- Salt, pepper and condiment packets
- Aloe vero lotion
- DEET Bug Spray
- Moleskin blister pads
- Small chair
- Rope- Generally multipurpose, but it's great to have a clothes line if you are swimming a lot.
- First Aid Kit
- Sunscreen- Bring a large bottle because it will go fast.
- Old radio
- Playing cards and card games
- Trashbag- Keep in mind at Havasupai you will have to pack the trash out so try to limit what you bring and what will need to be thrown away later.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste/ mouthwash
And the journey was worth it in the end. Ahhhh!