Me along a glacier hiking trail in Alaska -- photo by David Young
Hiking can be a great adventure as you will be able to experience the awesome power of nature. You can hike through the Appalachian Mountains, or scale the glaciers of Alaska, all with just a backpack. Knowing how to prepare your backpack is essential to any hike and may help you survive in an emergency situation.
Finding the right pack is important as it will be strapped to your back for hours at a time. You want to make sure you try a pack on before you buy it. The pack needs to fit comfortably against your back and provide adequate lumbar support. Most packs can be adjusted to fit the user’s needs, but it is still important to try it out. Finding a pack which is water resistant or water proof is preferable. Putting on wet clothing after a long day’s hike is a miserable experience.
Once your pack is purchased it is time to prepare it for the hike. If the pack is waterproof that will make life easier. If the pack is not waterproof, line the inside of the pack with a large trash bag. The outdoor lawn bags work well due to its thickness and durability. Stuff the pack with lighter objects on the bottom and heavier objects on top. Make sure the pack can be synched down tightly so objects do not move around during the hike and make the pack uneven. By doing this you will keep most of the weight on the shoulders and upper back. This part of the body is able to carry and stabilize weight better than the lower back. Make the pack work with you, not against you.
With this packing idea in mind, it is important to pack the right things. The clothing should be based on the time of year and the location of the hike. Keep in mind, even in the summer months the evenings can become much cooler without the warmth of the sun. If you are going to camp along this hike the necessary camping equipment must be packed as well. For more information on how to prepare for camping, refer to the article Simple camping preparation.
During the packing it is easy to get carried away and before you know it, half of the house is stuffed in your pack. It is important to bring only what you need for the hike. The pack may seem manageable at home, but once on the trails, it will seem to get heavier with every step you take.
While it is important to not over pack, there are a few items you should take with you anytime you set off into the wilderness, no matter how far you are going. These items are:
- Compass (map, if available)
- Fire starter (matches, lighter, flint and striker, etc…)
- Water! Water! Water!
The last thing to keep in mind when packing, is to keep any item you will use regularly, easily accessible. For instance, keep a water bottle on an outside pouch or lash it to your pack. Nothing is more frustrating than having to stop and empty your pack every time you need a drink of water.
Keep these simple steps in mind and you will be able to enjoy all nature has to offer without worrying about your backpack.
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