Backcountry Camping Tips

Backcountry Camping Tips
You've already tried car and RV camping. You've camped at commercial campsites that had a convenient restroom and water supply. Now, you want to explore the road less traveled. Backcountry camping, also known as primitive camping, is a wonderful way to explore the remote and secluded areas of our national forests. However it requires some advanced camping skills.

Develop a Camping-Specific Fitness Program

Unlike traditional camping, most backcountry camping trips involve moving from site to site. Climbing uphill while wearing a backpack involves, strength, endurance and balance. Thus, about two months prior to your backcountry camping trip, you should begin a camping-specific fitness program, which involves strength, endurance and balance exercises. Some people put the treadmill on an incline, and wear a backpack while training.

Pack a Detailed Trail Map and GPS

Keep in mind, in backcountry camping, you are less likely to hike on paved or marked trails. As such, its easy to get lost. If possible, use a topographical map, and learn how to read it. Check the map periodically.

Pack a First Aid Kit

While commercial first aid kits are fine, you might want to add additional items, such as rubber gloves and a CPR mask. You should also consider bringing along a mountain first aid book.

Water Tips

Each person will need about 1.5 liters of water a day. Remember to bring along water filters, because drinking directly from the stream could be dangerous. Cooking water should be boiled for five minutes and treated with purifying tablets.


Do not chop down trees for firewood. Use the wood from trees that have already been downed.

Beware of Bears

Pack your food in bear-safe containers, which can be found at camping stores.

Article Written By Lisa Mercer

In 1999, Lisa Mercer’s fitness, travel and skiing expertise inspired a writing career. Her books include "Open Your Heart with Winter Fitness" and "101 Women's Fitness Tips." Her articles have appeared in "Aspen Magazine," "HerSports," "32 Degrees," "Pregnancy Magazine" and "Wired." Mercer has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the City College of New York.