How to Backpack Through the Back Country

How to Backpack Through the Back Country
If you want to get away from the crowds and discover some little-known spots of paradise, you will probably need to hike into the backcountry. Those willing to backpack far from indoor plumbing and tourist gift shops will discover a much more rugged, undisturbed setting. A smart backpacker knows that some precautions should be taken before abandoning civilization and heading off down the trail, and those who wish to preserve the pristine qualities of the backcountry always care for the land and carry out everything they carry in.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Backpack
  • Maps and navigation equipment
  • Food
  • Water
  • First aid kit
  • Bedroll
  • Flashlight
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Medication
  • Permit
Step 1
Find a good backpack. If you don't already own one, purchase a backpack that fits properly and holds enough gear for your trip. A salesperson at your local sporting goods store may be able to custom mold the straps for you.
Step 2
Get some maps of the area where you plan to backpack. The National Park Service offers detailed maps of backcountry areas found inside the parks. The National Forest Service or your local wildlife resources office carries maps for other areas.
Step 3
Pack navigation tools. In addition to a map, bring a compass. Some backpackers use GPS systems to help them navigate. You don't want to get lost in the backcountry.
Step 4
Obtain a permit. Many National Parks require a permit for overnight stays in the backcountry. The NPS has websites for each of its parks and permits can sometimes be purchased online. Otherwise, buy one at the visitor center before heading out.
Step 5
Pack necessities, but stick to the basics. You will want to bring plenty of food and water, sunscreen, insect repellent, medication, a bedroll, first aid kit and a change of clothing. In many areas you will not be allowed to have a fire, so make sure you have a jacket. Remember, if you pack it, you'll be lugging it for miles and miles, so make sure an item is really necessary before stuffing it in your backpack.
Step 6
Tell someone where you are going and when you plan to be back. Then stick to the plan. Injuries can happen in the backcountry and you may find yourself stranded with no cell service, unable to get out. If your friends or family know you are missing and where to look, your chances of a successful rescue are much better.
Step 7
Hike at a reasonable pace. If you are hiking at an altitude higher than you are accustomed, you may find yourself gasping for air. Don't overdo it. Take it easy and enjoy the hike -- getting there is half the fun.
Step 8
Eat and drink as you go. Your body needs fuel to carry that heavy pack and drag your body up that steep trail. Carry some energy bars or fruit and make sure to drink plenty of water. In high temperatures you can dehydrate quickly.
Step 9
Store food in a sack suspended from a tree. Bears and other animals are drawn to your food and toiletries. If you don't want to encounter them, keep your stuff stored away from the campsite.
Step 10
Clean up after yourself. Others want to enjoy the backcountry, too. Pack out all trash. If you have a campfire, make sure to extinguish it completely.

Tips & Warnings

To avoid unpleasant encounters with dangerous wildlife, make a little noise as you hike. Talk to companions, whistle or sing. Bears, moose and other animals that you might not want to come face-to-face with will stay out of your way if they hear you coming.
Follow the rules when backpacking in the backcountry. If the area doesn't allow fires, don't build one. Never hunt or fish without the proper permits.

Article Written By Cate Rushton

Cate Rushton has been a freelance writer since 1999, specializing in wildlife and outdoor activities. Her published works also cover relationships, gardening and travel on various websites. Rushton holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Utah.

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