Getting Ready for the Backpacking Season

Planning on completing one of North America’s long distance trails this summer? Or is it your first year of backpacking? No matter if you’re planning a thousand-mile hike or just ten, preparations can start now.

Training for backpacking? Do I really need to?

The answer is probably not if you’ve been active all winter on backcountry ski trips, cross-country outings, or snowshoe journeys. But if you’re getting up off the couch after a winter’s nap, training those weakened muscles helps avoid injury as well as makes the trip more enjoyable.

Training doesn’t necessarily mean hitting the gym. While walking on an elevated treadmill or using a stairclimber with a weighted pack works, you can also achieve the same effect by going up and down a long set of outdoor stairs. Each week, add a little more weight and increase the number of sets of stair climbs.

Stairway to backpacking success! (Photo: M.Kopp)

You can also load up the backpack for regular day hikes with good elevation gain to build up your strength and endurance as well. Remember, green exercise is good for you!

Your Gear

Check it over before the first trip. Are all the zippers working on your tent? Sleeping bag? Does your sleeping pad still hold air – or is it in need of repair? Are your hiking boots in need of waterproofing? Does your waterproof, breathable jacket and/or pants need cleaning? Does your stove work efficiently? Are you headlamps charged and ready for action?

Your Food

If you’re planning on dehydrating some of your meals, it’s not too late to get started. Buying extra vegetables and fixings for beef jerky when they’re on sale and drying ahead of time helps save time when planning and packing for your next outdoor adventure.

The more you do now; the better the trip.

So, what are you waiting for?  The backpacking season is right around the corner.

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