backpacking tips

5 tips for first-time backpackers

If you're a first-time backpacker, the prospect of heading out into the wilderness might seem exhilarating but also a little daunting. If so, this article is for you.

Below, we offer you five essential tips to kickstart your backpacking journey and ensure a smooth and safe transition into the world of outdoor exploration.

1. Start Small and Gradual:

  • Choose Beginner-Friendly Trails: Begin your backpacking odyssey with trails suitable for beginners. Look for well-marked, shorter routes with moderate terrain. Research local trails or national parks that cater to novice hikers, allowing you to acclimate to the backpacking experience without overwhelming challenges.
  • Overnight or Weekend Trips: Consider starting with short overnight or weekend trips. This allows you to familiarize yourself with the basics of backpacking without committing to an extended expedition. Gradually increase the duration and complexity of your trips as you gain confidence and experience.

2. Invest in the Right Gear:

  • Essential Gear: Acquiring the right gear is crucial for a comfortable and safe backpacking experience. Invest in quality essentials such as a well-fitted backpack, a reliable sleeping bag, and a durable tent or shelter. Research and choose gear based on your specific needs and the expected conditions of your trips.
  • Rent or Borrow: If you're unsure about making a significant investment in gear initially, consider renting or borrowing equipment. This allows you to test different gear options and figure out your preferences before making long-term commitments.

3. Master Basic Navigation and Map Reading:

  • Learn Navigation Skills: Familiarize yourself with basic navigation skills such as reading maps, using a compass, and understanding trail markers. Knowing how to navigate ensures you stay on the right path and enhances your overall safety in the wilderness.
  • Start with Established Trails: Begin your journey on well-established and marked trails. As you gain confidence in your navigation skills, you can gradually explore more remote or less-traveled routes.

4. Practice Leave No Trace Principles:

  • Respect Nature: Backpacking comes with a responsibility to leave nature as you found it. Adhere to Leave No Trace principles, which include packing out all trash, staying on designated trails, and minimizing your impact on the environment. Respect wildlife and fellow hikers by maintaining a low-impact presence.
  • Educate Yourself: Take the time to learn about the specific Leave No Trace guidelines for the areas you plan to explore. Being mindful of your environmental impact contributes to the preservation of natural spaces for future generations.

5. Prioritize Safety and Comfort:

  • Plan and Communicate: Before embarking on a backpacking trip, thoroughly plan your route, check weather forecasts, and inform someone reliable about your itinerary. This ensures that someone knows your whereabouts and can assist in case of emergencies.
  • Pack Essentials: Carry essential safety items, including a first aid kit, emergency shelter, sufficient water, and extra food. Be prepared for changes in weather and unexpected challenges by packing accordingly.


Embarking on your first backpacking trip is a thrilling step into the beauty and serenity of the great outdoors. By starting small, investing in quality gear, mastering basic navigation, practicing Leave No Trace principles, and prioritizing safety and comfort, you'll lay the foundation for a rewarding backpacking experience.

Remember, each journey is a learning opportunity, and as you gain confidence and expertise, you'll unlock your full potential. And if you need any food or gear to take along, you can always buy it right here at Hiker's Gold.

Back to blog