What to know for planning a backpacking trip?

Before you set off on a backpacking trip, you need to know a few things about planning. This includes how to choose a route, whether you need backpacking insurance, how to budget for your trip, whether to consider a backpacking tour, and how to backpack solo. 

How to choose which backpacking route to take?

Below, we’ve listed some considerations that will help you choose a backpacking route.

  • Budget. Some destinations are pricier to get to than others.
  • Time. How long do you have?
  • Distance. How many miles are you in good enough shape to tackle?
  • Elevation gain. How much elevation gain will you put in on the route? Are you fit enough for this?
  • Difficulty. Mellow, moderate, or gnarly?
  • Weather. What are likely conditions in any location at the time of year you plan on going?
  • Wildlife. Will you have to deal with bears, moose, bugs, etc., and are you happy to do so?

What are popular backpacking routes for beginners?

The following is a list of popular beginner backpacking routes.

  • Rim to Rim, Grand Canyon
  • Tuolumne Meadows area, Yosemite National Park
  • White Mountain Hut to Hut, New Hampshire
  • Glacier Gorge, Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Rae Lakes Loop, California
  • Point of Arches, Olympic National Park

What are popular intermediate backpacking routes?

The most popular intermediate backpacking routes are listed below.

  • Lost Coast Trail, California
  • Zion Narrows, Utah
  • Wonderland Trail, Washington
  • The Wind River Range, Wyoming
  • “O” Circuit, Torres del Paine, Chile
  • Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
  • Annapurna Sanctuary, Nepal
  • Everest Base Camp, Nepal
  • Markha Valley Trek, Ladakh, India
  • Alta Via 1 & 2, Italy
  • The Walker’s Haute Route, France and Switzerland
  • The West Highland Way, Scotland

What are popular backpacking routes for experts?

The most popular backpacking routes for experts are listed below.

  • Continental Divide Trail
  • Pacific Crest Trail
  • Appalachian Trail
  • Arizona Trail
  • Colorado Trail
  • John Muir Trail

What are popular backpacking routes abroad?

Some of the most popular backpacking trips abroad are listed below.

  • “O” Circuit, Torres del Paine, Chile
  • Alta Via 1 & 2, Italy
  • The Inca Trail, Peru
  • Camino de Santiago, Spain
  • Te Araroa, New Zealand
  • Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
  • Annapurna Sanctuary, Nepal
  • Everest Base Camp, Nepal
  • Markha Valley Trek, Ladakh, India
  • The Walker’s Haute Route, France and Switzerland
  • The West Highland Way, Scotland
  • The King’s Trail (Kungsleden), Sweden

How to find permits for a backpacking route?

Permits for backing trips can typically be sourced (well in advance) on the websites of the state or national parks you will be backpacking through. 

How to estimate supplies for a backpacking trip?

The best way to estimate the amount of supplies you’ll need for a backpacking trip is to calculate the number of calories you’ll need per day, then multiply this by the number of days you expect to be on the trail. Then create a food or meal plan that meets your caloric needs – just be sure to add 5-10% extra just in case. 

How to choose a camping spot when backpacking?

Below, we’ve listed some tips to help you find a suitable and safe camping spot when backpacking.

  • Stick to designated camping sites wherever applicable
  • Choose a spot at least 200 ft from the trail and water sources
  • Look for areas already used as campsites to minimize impact
  • Find a spot near a water source (you’ll need it for hydration, cleaning, and cooking)
  • Choose a spot with shade in warm weather and exposed to the sun in cold weather
  • Choose a spot sheltered from the wind (unless you’re in a buddy location)
  • Don’t pitch your tent on fragile plantlife
  • Don’t pitch too close to other backpackers (unless they invite you to)

How to physically prepare for a backpacking trip?

The best way to train for backpacking is by hiking. Ideally, you should hike consecutive days and gradually build up your mileage and pack weight to let your body get used to hiking greater distances with a heavier load.

If there are no hiking trails near where you live, you can do some general conditioning for backpacking at home or in the gym with exercises like jump squats, step-ups, KettleBell deadlifts, squats, lunges, and calf raises.

How to mentally prepare for a backpacking trip?

Below we’ve listed some tips to help you prepare mentally for a backpacking trip.

  • Keep the self-talk positive
  • Set an intention
  • Set small goals
  • Don’t doubt yourself
  • Read trip reports
  • Expect a little emotional turbulence
  • Do a few practice hikes in bad weather
  • Eat some uninspiring trail food at home
  • Spend some nights in your tent before setting off

What is backpacking insurance?

Backpacking insurance is specialized insurance that covers backpackers in the event of injury, illness, theft, cancellations, gear loss, search and rescue, helicopter evacuation, and repatriation when backpacking abroad.

Do you need backpacking insurance?

If you plan on traveling abroad, it’s wise to invest in a good insurance policy. Standard travel insurance will protect you in the case of illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. Activity-specific insurance, on the other hand, could save you thousands of dollars in the event that you require a search-and-rescue team or helicopter evacuation, or injure yourself or fall ill in locations not covered by standard travel insurance.

What insurance brokers do backpacking cover?

The following is a list of insurance brokers that provide backpacking cover.

  • World Nomads
  • Safety Wing
  • True Traveller
  • Allianz
  • Battleface

What to budget for on a backpacking trip?

The main things to budget for on a backpacking trip are travel to and from the trailhead/terminus, gear, accommodation, permits, food, and toiletries.

What is the average budget for backpacking?

The average budget for backpackers who already have gear is around $10-15 per day for food. Multiply this by the number of days you plan to be on the trail, add on costs for travel, accommodation, and permits, and you’ll have a rough estimate of how much you’ll need to tick your trail.

How to plan a backpacking trip on a budget?

Below, we’ve listed top tips for backpacking on a budget.

  • “Ultralight” is great, but “lightweight” will work. Ultralight gear can cost a fortune, and regular lightweight backpacking gear won’t break your back.
  • Make your own meals. Instead of splurging on fancy, pricey dehydrated or freeze-dried meals, save yourself a fortune and make your own at home.
  • Skip the huts. Huts offer a nice touch of creature comfort on long trails, but they’ll blow a big hole in any budget. 
  • Don’t buy your gear at full price. Instead, wait for the sales, buy used gear, or borrow it from a friend
  • Buy calorie-dense food. Calorie-dense foods won’t just save you money, they’ll also help you reduce pack weight.
  • Buy a closed-cell foam sleeping pad. Inflatables are pricey and prone to punctures or random deflation when you least need it.
  • Don’t buy a pillow. Throw your clothes in a stuff sack and use this instead.

Where is budget-friendly for backpacking abroad?

Below, we’ve listed some of the most budget-friendly backpacking destinations.

  • Romania
  • Poland
  • Costa Rica
  • Nepal
  • Thailand
  • Mexico
  • Peru
  • Nicaragua
  • Morocco
  • Venezuela
  • Vietnam

How to save money while backpacking abroad?

Below, we’ve listed some tips to help you save money while backpacking abroad.

  • Be flexible with your flights
  • Buy gear when you arrive (if you’re sure it will be available)
  • Stock up on supplies when you arrive
  • Travel in the off season
  • Try hitchhiking

Why book a guided backpacking tour?

Some of the advantages of joining a backpacking tour or group are companionship, learning skills from peers, and safety in numbers.

Are guided backpacking tours worth it?

Guided backpacking tours are expensive but can be worth it if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of planning and logistics or don’t have the skills and confidence to backpack alone.

What are disadvantages of guided backpacking tours?

Some of the disadvantages are not choosing your own route, less privacy, and not being able to go at your own pace.

What to know for planning to go solo backpacking?

The most important thing to know before you go backpacking alone is that you are solely responsible for your own safety and well-being – basing your planning around this fact is the best way to get started.

What needs planned for when backpacking alone?

When backpacking alone, you will be responsible for all the planning and every other eventuality. When preparing for your trip, make sure you sort out a meal plan, route plan, identify resupply points, learn to navigate, are trained in first aid, and know what to do in the event of an emergency.

Are there trails to not backpack alone?

Trails that we wouldn’t recommend backpacking alone are any where you have a higher risk of injury, getting ill (at altitude, for example), being attacked by animals, or being attacked by humans.