What to know about the backpacking community before getting out on the trail?

If you’re just getting into backpacking, there are a few things worth knowing about the hiking community. This includes what inspires people to go backpacking, the history of backpacking, where to find inspiration for trips, how to get involved in backpacking, what rules you should follow, and how to backpack if you have a disability.

What inspires people to go backpacking?

People are most often inspired to go backpacking by images or accounts of stunning locations or experiences enjoyed by others on certain trails. Other sources of inspiration might be books or movies about backpacking, a desire to connect with nature, or a desire to get fit in a healthy and sustainable way.

What do people like about backpacking?

Backpackers enjoy backpacking for the reasons listed below.

  • It’s great exercise.
  • You get to spend time in beautiful natural environments while doing it.
  • It’s a great way to make new friends.
  • It’s a great way to see the world.
  • It’s a destresser.
  • The sense of accomplishment.
  • The adrenaline rush.
  • It gets you away from those screens.
  • The challenge.
  • The wildlife.
  • The mental health benefits.

When did backpacking become popular?

Backpacking as a recreational activity finds its origins in recreational or adventure travel, particularly with the “Beat” or hippy generation of the 1950s and 60s. These travelers ventured to countries such as Afghanistan, Iran, India, and South America, often trekking for days on foot with nothing but what they could carry on their backs. 

When these young adventurers returned to their homes in Europe and North America, many continued the trend of long-distance travel on foot on home turf. 

How does backpacking benefit physical health?

According to the American Hiking Society, the main physical health benefits of backpacking include stronger muscles and bones, improved heart health, improved respiratory health, a stronger immune system, reduced risk of diabetes, lower blood pressure, and weight loss.

How does backpacking benefit relationships?

The following list summarizes how backpacking with friends or family members can help strengthen your relationships.

  • It teaches you to enjoy the little things
  • It lets you – or forces you – to unplug from your workday life
  • You get to spend quality time together
  • You have to problem-solve together and communicate
  • It teaches you to be patient with each other
  • You share beautiful, challenging, and enriching experiences together. 

Can you get addicted to backpacking?

Yes, backpacking brings many benefits and positive experiences, all of which can make it addictive for some. Some of the reasons backpacking is so addictive are highlighted in the list below.

  • It releases endorphins, which make you feel happy
  • It gets you in good shape
  • It can be goal-oriented (and you get to define ‘success’)
  • It removes you from stressors (work, technology, and even home)

Can going backpacking get boring?

No! One of the beauties of going backpacking is that there are almost countless trails, so it’s a great way to see the world, experience new cultures, and explore various stunning landscapes.

How to know if backpacking is for you?

The only way to know if backpacking is for you is to give it a try! We recommend starting small by backpacking a shorter trail near your home, then branching out into something a little more challenging with an experienced friend.

What are the origins of backpacking?

The first known backpacker was Ötzi the Iceman, a mummified man discovered in a glacier in the Austrian Ötztal Alps in 1991. Ötzi was found beside a backpack, or sorts, made with animal skin and cloth, and scientists dated his remains to 3400–3100 BC.

Backpacking as a mainstream recreational activity took of in the In the 1950s when young European travelers ventured east to countries like Afghanistan, India, and Nepal, getting around by car, train, bus, and foot with nothing more than the pack on their back. 

Backpacking on hiking trails was first popularized in the US by trailblazers like John Muir in the early 1900s, though it didn’t become a popular recreational activity until the 1950s and 60s.

What gear did backpackers historically use?

Early recreational backpackers in the typically used canvas, external-frame backpackers, wool clothing, leather or canvas boots, rain ponchos, carbide lamps, and canvas tents.

How has backpacking evolved over time?

The historical chronology of backpacking has seen it evolve from mainly commercial ventures (early exploration), to spiritual quest (the Beat and hippy generations) to recreational activity (modern times).

Who were early pioneers of backpacking?

Some of the earliest backpacking pioneers include John Muir, John ‘Walking’ Stewart, Myron Avery, Emma “Grandma” Gatewood, and Earl Shaffer.

Who are modern famous backpackers?

Some of the most famous modern backpackers include Andrew Skurka, Bill Bryson, Cheryl Strayed, Heather “Anish” Anderson, Buddy Backpacker, and Jennifer Pharr Davis.

Where to get backpacking inspiration from?

You can find backpacking inspiration in many sources, including social media (TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube), digital press media, film, old-school print media (magazines), and fellow backpackers.

What are popular backpacking websites?

Below are some of the most popular backpacking websites.

  • TrailJournals
  • Backpacker
  • GORP.com
  • AllTrails.com
  • GoBackpacking.com
  • Backpacking.net.
  • Hiking Dude
  • Andrewskurka.com
  • Backcountry Banter
  • Outside

What are good sites for backpacking routes?

Listed below are some of our favorite sites for info on backpacking routes.

  • AllTrails
  • Adventure Alan
  • Andrew Skurka
  • BasecampMD
  • Besthike
  • Caltopo
  • Summitpost
  • Trail Groove

What are good backpacking sites for camping spots?

The best sites for backpacking camping spots are often the national park or state park websites for the area. In the case of long-distance trails such as the AT, CDT, PCT, Arizona Trail, or the Florida trail, camping spots are listed on the trail websites.

What are popular backpacking movies?

Some of the most popular backpacking movies include Mile…Mile and a Half, Into the Wild, A Walk in the Woods, National Parks Adventure, The Way, Tracks, and A Walk in the Woods.

What backpacking movies are based on true stories?

Some popular backpacking movies based on true stories include Wild, A Walk in the Woods, Tracks, Into the Wild, and The Way.

What are popular backpacking magazines?

Listed below are some of the most popular backpacking magazines.

  • Backpacker
  • Outside
  • Trail
  • The Great Outdoors
  • Trek and Mountain
  • Adventure Journal

Which magazines interview backpacking experts?

Outdoor magazines that occasionally feature interviews with backpacking experts include Outside, The Great Outdoors, Backpacker, and Adventure Journal.

What are popular backpacking novels?

The list below includes a selection of backpacking novels, a rare but entertaining alternative to standard non-fiction backpacking books.

  • The Hike by Lucy Clarke
  • Never Go Full Pai by Jeffrey Eng
  • The Hike by Susi Holliday
  • Lily’s Mountain by Hannah Moderow
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coleho
  • Hold For Hiker Trash by K.A. Hrycik

What are recommended reference books for backpacking?

Below we’ve added a list of the best reference books for backpacking.

  • The Backpacker’s Field Manual: A Comprehensive Guide to Mastering Backcountry Skills
  • Medicine for the Outdoors
  • Wilderness Navigation
  • Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills
  • The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide

What YouTube channels focus on backpacking videos?

The list below features some of the top YouTube channels for backpacking videos:

  • Spiguyver Backpacking
  • Evan’s Backpacking Videos
  • Nature Calls Outdoors
  • Gab & Maya Backpacking
  • BackPacker Steve

What video recommendations showcase backpacking trails?

BackpackingTV’s EpicTrails: SevenBest Thru-Hikes of the World and Darwin On the Trail’s Community, and The Hiking Rev’s My PCT Thru-Hike are all great example of YouTube videos that showcase backpacking trails.

What are popular backpacking documentaries?

Our favorite documentaries about backpacking are Mile…Mile and a Half, It Is the People, and Do More With Less.

What are popular backpacking documentary-style movies?

Our favorite documentary-style movies about backpacking are Mile…Mile and a Half, It Is the People, and Do More With Less.

What are popular backpacking podcasts?

The list below includes some of the top backpacking podcasts.

  • The Dirtbag Diaries
  • Training for Trekking
  • Backpacker Radio
  • Wanderwoman
  • The Backpacking Podcast
  • Wild Ideas Worth Living
  • Hike ‘n’ Pod
  • Hike by Lori Prima
  • Outside Podcast
  • Outside Voices Podcast
  • Hiking Thru
  • The Firn Line
  • She Explores
  • Trail Tales: A Thru-Hiking and Backpacking Podcast
  • The Trail Show

Which podcasts interview backpacking experts?

Wild Ideas Worth Living by outdoor retailer REI and the Outside Podcast both feature interviews with hiking and backpacking experts.

What are popular backpacking blogs?

Below are some of the most popular backpacking blogs.

  • Bearfoot Theory
  • Young Adventuress
  • Bald Hiker
  • Hiking Dude
  • Roar Loud
  • Hike Like a Woman
  • Nerd Nomads
  • PMags
  • Alastair Humphreys
  • Mark Horrell
  • Girl on a Hike

What backpacking blogs focus on overcoming adversity?

The most notable are the Disabled Hikers Blog and Hike for Mental Health.

How do you get involved with backpacking?

The best way to get involved in backpacking is to join a group or club, but you can also start your own club, take a course, attend events, take part in challenges, volunteer for trail maintenance, or check for extracurricular programs at your school or college.

Why join a backpacking club?

The following list highlights the main reasons for joining a backpacking club.

  • Make new friends.
  • Meet like-minded people.
  • Helps you hike regularly and safely.
  • Motivation and inspiration.
  • Ridesharing.
  • Learn from others.

What are top backpacking clubs in the USA?

The following list contains the top backpacking clubs and groups in the USA.

  • The AmericanAlpineClub
  • The Sierra Club
  • InterMountain Alpine Club.
  • Women Who Hike
  • Black Girls Trekkin
  • Latino Outdoors
  • Unlikely Hikers
  • LGBT+ Outdoors
  • Disabled Hikers

What is a backpacking tour?

A backpacking tour is a guided backpacking trip with a group and a group leader or guide. In most cases, the group will follow a pre-planned schedule and transport and accommodation will be arranged.  

Why join a backpacking tour?

Below, we’ve listed the main reasons to join a backpacking tour.

  • Less planning and stress.
  • You can rent gear.
  • Make new friends.
  • Safety.
  • Learn new skills from your guide.

Where to find backpacking buddies online?

The best places to find backpacking buddies online are Meetup (there are thousands of location-specific groups), Facebook hiking groups, or the “Hikers & Backpackers” Slack channel.

Where to find backpacking buddies in person?

To find backpacking buddies in person you can hit the trail and meet them on the way, take a course, or put out the word in local outdoor stores. If that fails, you can join nationwide organizations like REI, NOLS, The American Alpine Institute, The Sierra Club, Women Who Hike, and Outward Bound or regional groups like the Appalachian Mountain Club.

What makes for a good backpacking game?

A good backpacking game is anything that will keep you and your backpacking buddies entertained during those long days on the trail or evenings in the tent.

What are some good backpacking games?

The list below includes some of our favorite backpacking games.

  • Uno
  • Monopoly Deal
  • Two Truths and Lie
  • Backgammon
  • Stinky Pinky
  • Would You Rather…

What are backpacking events?

Backpacking events range from backpacking club meets or organized hikes (Fjallraven US Classic) to book readings or outdoor festivals (like Kendal Mountain Festival or Banff Mountain Festival). Other events include challenges like the 52 Hike Challenge and the Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge.

Where to find out about backpacking events?

The best places to find out about hiking events are listed below.

  • REI Co-Op
  • 52 Hike Challenge
  • Sierra Club
  • Fjallraven US Classic
  • Eventbrite
  • Local hiking groups
  • Women Who Hike
  • American Hiking Society

Are there rules to follow when backpacking?

There are some basic rules all backpackers should follow. These include staying on the trail, respecting wildlife and plant life, yielding the right of way to uphill hikers, horses, and pack stock, keeping the noise down, never littering, never feeding wildlife, taking nothing and leaving nothing, keeping your dog on a leash, greeting and respecting other hikers, adhering to Leave No Trace principles.

What does ‘leave no trace’ mean when backpacking?

LNT or Leave No Trace is a set of best practices hikers, campers, and backpackers are encouraged to abide by in order to protect and preserve natural environments and wildlife populations.

What mistakes are made when practicing leave no trace?

The following is a list of the main mistakes backpackers make when attempting to practice leave no trace.

  • Straying from the trail. Backpackers often do this if inadequately dressed and attempting to avoid muddy sections on the trail, but doing so can widen the trail, causing soil erosion and impacting nearby flora.
  • Moving rocks. Making an unofficial cairn or stacking rocks could lead other hikers astray, or harm insects who are using the rocks for shelter. 
  • Keeping scented items in your pack. These will attract bears and other wildlife.
  • Peeing near a water source. Take the time to make sure you are at least 200 ft. from any lake, pond, river, or stream before you ‘go’.
  • Burning toilet paper or trash. This may save you from having to carry it out, but it could also start a wildfire, pollutes the air, and a few melted scraps of whatever you burn will probably be left over and attract wildlife.
  • Not storing scented items properly. Make sure your food and any other scented items (toothpaste, beauty products, medicine) are stored in scent-proof bags or containers to avoid attracting wildlife.

What is backpacking etiquette?

Backpacking etiquette is a handful of unwritten rules backpackers should follow, the most important of which we’ve listed below.

  • Stay on the trail
  • Respect wildlife and plantlife
  • Yield the right of way to uphill hikers, horses, and pack stock
  • Greet other hikers and backpackers
  • Keep the noise down
  • Never litter
  • Never feed wildlife
  • Take nothing and leave nothing
  • Keep your dog on a leash

What mistakes are made practicing backpackers etiquette?

The most commonly made backpacking etiquette mistakes are littering, failing to greet fellow backpackers, making too much noise, and not yielding the right of way.

Can anyone go backpacking?

To go backpacking, you only have to be able to walk (with or without assistance) and navigate in backcountry terrain. 

How to backpack with mobility issues?

Plenty of people with mobility issues get into backpacking using either simple or specialized equipment and aides. These include custom crutches or trekking poles, off-road wheelchairs, rollators, and ankle-foot orthotics.

What backpacking gear is available for people with disabilities?

You’ll find some examples of backpacking equipment for people with disabilities on the list below.

  • SideStix All-Terrain Crutches
  • Trionic Veloped
  • Terra Trek Chair
  • Custom shoes
  • Renegade Wheelchair
  • Freedom Chair