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Backpacking Gear for Beginners: Tips to Start

This post is part of the Backpacking Gear for Beginners course.

That’s the end of the gear section. You now have enough knowledge to be dangerous to your wallet and get some hiking gear. 

There are a few more things to keep in mind about hiking in general for your first, or tenth, multi-day hike. 

Start small

Rushing into long hikes will hurt. They’ll hurt your body, your wallet and your ego. Use small hikes to build up with weight and distance. 

If you want to hike ten kilometers for 4 days with 30 pounds on your back, work up to that. Start with 2 then 5 then 8 kilometer hikes. Add weight to those hikes and work up to 30 pounds for 10 for 1 day. Go for 2 days in a row with all your gear. Sleep at home in between and see how you feel. Rushing into the full weight and distance can be dangerous on a remote trail.

Test, Test, Test

Test everything you own. Get extra food and test it. Sleep in the backyard or on a short trail with all your gear. Put up the tent. Sleep in your sleeping bag. Hike with your clothes. Don’t use your gear for the first time on your big trip.

Buy used

Used gear can be just as good as new and half the price. Lots of people buy everything for one hike and then never use it again (but not you!). Sucks for them but good for you. Tents, headlamps, trekking poles, stoves, pots and sleeping bags can be lightly used and still have a lot of life left in them. 

Split gear with hiking partners

Many things like tents, tarps, and stoves can be shared with the group. Whether that’s splitting up tents into the parts or taking turns carrying the tarp and the stove, don’t make one person carry it all. 

Look for extra regulations

Some areas may have other regulations for hiking equipment like having bear spray or a bear canister. Confirm you have all the required gear and have paid for your permit if there is one. 

Lessons learned

Write down what you learned on your trip so you remember for next time. Whether that’s a hiking notebook you take hiking or a trip planning document on your computer you check for each trip. There are lessons every trip and it’s not fun to re-learn them every time.  

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