A daypack backpack trip can be enjoyed by anyone. Does your interest in hiking seem like a passing thing due to uncertainty about how to begin? Do you have fears that prevent you from experiencing all that nature has to offer? You should know that all hikers had “issues” on their first few hikes that dissipated with experience and learning along the way. If you are overzealous and make rookie mistakes that you’ll soon regret, you will give up your hiking dreams. Why not be armed with facts and suggestions that will make you feel confident and like you’ve been hiking for years? Let’s examine how you can bypass the rookie stage. These 8 common mistakes will save you time, physical agony and frustration. Don’t you just want to get out there and have a successful first hike?
The very best way to break into hiking is on ½ day or one day hike. Like any new venture, it makes sense to take it slow in the beginning. If you over pack your hiking backpack, or attempt too much time in the wild at first, you won’t make an occasional blunder, you’ll feel overwhelmed and like it’s too much work instead of pleasure. Most of the work is in preparing and educating yourself. Sound boring? It shouldn’t be, because knowing is always better than guessing.
Food, Clothing And First Aid
- A daypack backpack in the 11-20 liter range is perfect for beginner hikes. Get yourself a quality bag specifically meant for outdoor hiking. A college book bag will not provide the durability from the elements. You will find yourself still using your daypack once you move on to longer hikes as a separate bag within your larger backpack for side trips. You won’t be wasting money on a temporary backpack. It can also be put aside when you take longer treks as a dedicated “go bag” for natural disaster emergencies.
- CLOTHING: Pack for many weather conditions. Here’s where a little internet searching is helpful. Check out the forecast hour-by-hour for the day before your hike and the day of your hike. Weather can be unpredictable, so you need to be prepared. Figure out where you will hike and if you’ll be climbing to higher elevations where it may be colder than when you begin.
Wear layers that you can remove or add to when you become too warm or it gets colder. Choose moisture-wicking clothes like you’d wear at the gym. Cotton is not the friend of hikers, not in shirts, pants or socks. It absorbs and does not dry quickly, leaving you vulnerable to rashes and blisters which will not be pleasant for walking. You’ll need to bring a water repellent jacket and a sweatshirt for sudden rain or a drop in temperatures.
Socks should be wool or polyester, even in summer. Never cotton due to moisture retention. Wear supportive boots or shoes that are broken in and are very comfortable. Don’t buy new ones that you haven’t worn before. You will need to break them in for a day or two before your hike so they can adapt to your feet. Wear them with your hiking socks when you break them in. Wouldn’t you rather discover any potential problems or discomfort at home instead of on the trail?
3. A daypack backpack will accommodate all your food for the day, plus a little extra. If you’re taking a sunrise hike, you’ll need breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you’re going on a ½ day hike, eat breakfast at home, then take lunch and dinner.
TRAIL FOOD TO PACK: Trail food should be lightweight, never in cans. Eliminate store packaging and put the contents in individual Ziploc bags. For a short hike, you won’t need the whole bag or box of anything. Stick to foods not requiring refrigeration and sample size packets of condiments. Some suggestions for breakfast is a bagel with individual size cream cheese in a packet. Lunch can be a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, tuna in a packet (found in all grocery stores.) with pita bread or crackers. Take sturdy fresh fruit like an apple or grapes. Just don’t let it get crushed onto your clothing.
For dinner, you can cook rice at home and add some fresh veggies and a packet of chicken with balsamic dressing and carry it in a plastic sealed container. Focus on carbs and protein for good nutrition and energy for the hike. Protein bars and trail mix make the perfect snack on your trek. Plan to stop and rest with a snack twice, in addition to meals, on a day hike and once on a ½ day hike. For more food ideas, do an online search for backpacking meals. Adequate nourishment is vitally important to keep your energy up. Don’t be in a hurry to get to a destination, take your time and feed your body.
4. WATER CONSUMPTION is extremely important when you hike. You will sweat and lose electrolytes that have to be replenished to feel your best. Hiking in the sun will deplete your fluid levels in your body. Dehydration is serious and no one is immune to the consequences. You need to consume ½ liter or 16 ounces of water for every hour of hiking. Does that sound like a lot? It’s not, because your body requires it. Some backpacks have a sleeve compartment that you can take a water bladder with fresh water from home and has a drinking tube system.
Two liters will be adequate during a ½ day hike. You should double that for an all day hike. You can refill a Nalgene bottle from a stream or lake IF you know there is a water supply on your trail. This is where research and maps come in very handy. If you can get fresh water on your hike, you won’t have to carry so much. Make sure you carry water purification tablets or drops to eliminate intestinal problems from bacteria in water sources. But you need to know for sure without guessing. Headache, nausea, fainting and fatigue will overtake you when you get dehydrated. Don’t let that happen to you. Take water consumption seriously.
5. Your daypack backpack adventure should be planned and mapped out before you step foot on the trail. It’s not wise to just pack and go blindly. Getting lost is not a good feeling. Carry a map and compass in your hiking bag. You can get maps of all local trails where you live, so check online. On your map, if you highlight the trail you are taking with its turns and topographical terrain, you will be certain of your path. Check for water sources along the way which will be indicated as such. You could use the GPS on your cell phone, but never rely on that 100% because signal can be lost or battery power could require a charge when you need it most.
6. Preventative measures like sunscreen and bug spray can help you from getting bad sunburn and getting multiple insect bites. Accidents like scrapes, bruises, blisters and a twisted ankle could happen to anyone at any time when you enjoy the outdoors. Being prepared makes all the difference in dealing with it then and there, or having to cut your hike short because you didn’t pack any first aid supplies. Adapting the Boy Scout motto of “be prepared” is good sound advice.
WHAT TO PACK FOR FIRST AID
Pack fabric bandaids, triple antibiotic cream, a few gauze pads of various sizes, antiseptic wipes, ibuprofen, tweezers, stretch Ace bandage, Pepto Bismol tablets and hand sanitizer. Include any meds you normally take throughout the day. You can pack these items in a small cosmetic bag or shaving kit bag. Even a plastic sealable bag will work. Keep these items in a readily accessible spot, preferably on the exterior of your backpack. You may not consider this a first aid item, but always pack a whistle hanging from the outside of your backpack. It can signal SOS or assist in getting you help if you need it.
7. Daypack backpack explorations benefit from having a few simple tools on hand. A multi-tool knife, like a Swiss Army knife, is something you’ll want along when you least expect to need it. Also, if you pack some duct tape wrapped around a pencil, you’ll discover an unbelievable amount of uses for this wonder tape, everything from backpack repair to wound closure. If you expect to be out after dark, a flashlight or a headlamp is highly suggested. You may want binoculars to see wildlife and birds.
During a day hike, it’s most likely you’ll have to go to the bathroom. Depending on where you hike, public restrooms may be at trail heads or ranger stations along the trail. If not, (check your map) you should bring a small trowel to dig a 6”hole for solid waste, then cover it back up when finished. You’ll also need some toilet paper and wet wipes for cleansing. The TP and wipes will need to be put into a sealable bag for disposal in proper trash receptacles as designated per your trail instructions. Do not bury these items with your solid waste. Hiker’s rule is that you never urinate on the trail, instead, at least 100 feet off trail and not near a fresh water source.
- Let’s get personal. You need to carry a form of ID and a credit/debit card plus some cash. The best place to store this is clipped to the inside of your backpack. You need to keep these items dry and out of the elements. If you leave it loose in a pocket, you’ll have to dig for it. Open the zipper of an inside pocket and use a metal clip to attach it to the pocket for quick access. Some hikers like to wear a money belt or neck pouch to keep their cash between layered clothing close to their body.
You should always carry a written card with emergency contact information on it such as, your name, address and someone’s phone number to contact in case of an unforeseen emergency. Be sure to inform someone you trust of your hiking plans such as where and expected time back home. Call or text that person once you are headed back home. You may feel more comfortable carrying your wallet, take a few moments first to de-clutter it keeping weight in mind because every ounce counts when you are carrying it on your back.
These daypack backpack expedition tips are suggestions for all hikers. Over time, you may discover other things you want to take along, which is often determined by how long of a hike you’ll be trekking. Before long, you’ll hear tips from other hikers on the trail and experience things for yourself that may alter these ideas. Your hike can easily be your customized plan along with these basics. The important thing is to execute a plan and stick to it the first few hiking trips until you are more comfortable with hiking in the wild. Please share this article with hiking friends and feel free to help others with hiking tips of your own in the comment section below. Nature Trail Backpacks wishes you a happy first and many hiking trips to follow.