When beginning your decision process on going backpacking you would think that your tent and other gear is most important. However, there is something that is more imperative that you do first. You can look at gear and different weights of tents, but if you are not physically fit then the weight of your tent is going to be irrelevant. For this reason instead of starting out with selecting tents, the different fabrics, etc. I have decided to begin with preparing for the hike. In future articles you will find information on tents, fabrics, and other essential information. It would be great to say go out, buy a tent and go backpacking. However that would leave out the preparation stage. It would be like constructing a building without a blueprint. Let me provide you with some of the ground work.
One of the greatest ways to be prepared is to get physically fit and stay in shape. Physically fit includes getting a clean bill of health from your doctor including but not limited to the condition of your heart. This is vital because once out in the wilderness there will not be an option to call 911. Do not think that you can strengthen yourself physically on the day of your hike, because you will be greatly disappointed finding out you cannot endure the hike. Whether you are a beginner or are experienced in conditioning make sure you have stretching as part of your routine to avoid injuries when exercising. For those of you who are not in shape, begin slowly by creating a routine for exercise. Walking, swimming, cardiovascular, and weights are a great place to start. For all backpackers do not lose sight of the importance of your preparation for the hike.
This includes the comfort of the backpack you will be carrying. Insure that the backpack you are purchasing will be a good fit. Start off by making your backpack five pounds heavier than what you expect to carry on the hike. Now put the pack on your back and walk for several miles, maybe around your neighborhood to see the comfort level. Once satisfied repeat the same exercise again, but this time by going for a day hike on a trail and see if you get the same satisfaction.
Take further precautionary measures in your training for possible adversities that you may encounter out in the back country. Observe how you lift because improper lifting can cause injury, always lift with your legs. Your backpack is a piece of equipment you will lift often. Slinging it onto your back can cause injury. Instead, try having your companion hold the pack while you slide your arms into the shoulder straps. If you are going solo then find a place to set your pack down, for example on a stump. Then squat down, put your arms through the shoulder straps and then stand using your legs. Our next article will contain essential information and first aid tips while on the trail.