Whether you’re heading out for a day-hike to bag a few birds or gearing up for a week of trekking through the woods in search of a buck with a legendary rack, you need a backpack. What sort of backpack will depend on what kind of trip you’re making? For a short hike, a small backpack or even a fanny pack might enough. If you’re going to be spending the night under the stars though, you need to give some serious thought to your backpack.
Expert hunters offer all kinds of tips for beginners, and one of the simplest is to get the right backpack. Regardless of how long your trip is, the recommendation most often bandied about is to aim for a total weight that is 20% of your body weight. This means a man who weighs 200 pounds should carry 40 pounds in his backpack. Yes, that includes the weight of the backpack itself.
The longer the hike, the more food, and water you’ll need to carry. You’ll also need to carry more toilet paper (unless you like leaves). Toilet paper doesn’t weigh much, but it takes up space. Other essential items will subtract from your total as well. 20% isn’t a hard and fast rule, so you might go over it occasionally. Nonetheless, the weight you can carry on a long trip is limited and that means you’ll have to cut wherever you can in other areas.
Long, multi-day backpacking trips are more rigorous than you might think and it never hurts to apply some of these tips to prepare for a long hike. You need to train for it the way you would train for a marathon or any other endurance related sporting event. Follow a planned workout regime to get in shape. Put yourself through a nine-week “boot camp” each year prior to the start of your backpacking season.
Start wearing your backpack during the last few weeks of your self-imposed “boot camp” to get used to having it on. Fill it lightly at first, gradually increasing how much weight is in it each day.
Pack your backpack from scratch each day. Do it as if you were going on a day hike the first few times, then start packing it for progressively longer multi-day hikes after that. This will give you experience packing and unpacking so you can learn the best way to store things in your pack. It will also give you practice in choosing what to take.
At the end of each workout, practice cooking with your camping gear, using the food and water you carried that day. This will give you some much-needed practice cooking when you’re tired. It will also teach you how your body responds to freeze-dried camping food. It’s better to find out if a particular brand or meal gives you diarrhea when you’re at home than when you’re running out of toilet paper on top of a mountain somewhere.
The right backpack is an essential element in all of this. You can find the one that is right for you by reading through this easy review. There are as many different backpacks as there are reasons for using them. Some will have extra pockets for water bottles, gloves, and other small items.
For long trips, you want a backpack that rides high on your shoulders with a waist strap to cinch it tight so it doesn’t flop around. Long-range backpacks also have space at the bottom for tying your sleeping bag to it. This frees up more space inside the pack for the rest of your gear.
When you’re outside there is no escape from the weather. Some manufacturers have started taking this into consideration by including built-in rain covers. The rain cover stays in its own compartment, then unfolds to cover the pack when it’s raining. After the rain stops, the cover can be folded back into its place. Soggy camping gear is no fun, plus, water adds all kinds of weight to your load, so this is an innovation whose worth can’t be overstated.
The right backpack is worth its weight in gold when you’re a hundred miles from nowhere. Knowing how to use it and being comfortable with its weight on your shoulders is worth even more. Get the right pack, practice with it, and you’ll be ready to go hunting!