Backpacking: All about the Pack on Your Back3 min read
If the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day has you envisioning yourself backpacking through the lush greenery of Ireland, put down your Guinness, and pick up a pen. It’s time to make a list. Better yet, just bookmark this blog post.
After you choose an initial destination, or at least an arrival and departure point, you should research the area for basic information related to weather conditions, security and availability of health services. If you’ve never backpacked before, pick up a backpackers guide to help fine-tune your plan based on your destination. Amazon.com gives The Backpacker’s Handbook five stars, but there are several others to choose from.
As you count down the days to your adventure, you can busy yourself by gathering some basic essentials for your trip. Remember you will be carrying whatever you pack, so pack lightly, but don’t exclude the most important items:
1) One set of extra clothes. These clothes should be kept dry at all times and should ideally be made of a synthetic material (like nylon) that won’t absorb too much moisture and will dry quickly.
2) Food. Pack snacks that are light and not bulky, full of calories, and easy to prepare. You can stack up on freeze-dried backpacking meals, quinoa, pasta, grains or dehydrated fruits and vegetables.
3) Water. Bring water purification tablets and a canteen or aluminum water bottle that is easy to carry.
4) Sunglasses. If you’re going to be under the open sky, you’ll want to protect your eyes.
5) An all-in-one tool such as a Leatherman or Swiss army knife. Note that you don’t want to try to board an airplane with this in your carry-on. So check yours or purchase one once you arrive at your destination.
6) A fire starter and/or matches. These should be kept in a plastic bag to avoid moisture damage.
7) First aid kit. This should include an assortment of bandages, some pain killers, and an antiseptic to clean out cuts. You may need to include items specific to your destination, e.g. if you are going to an area that has a notable snake population, you will need a snake-bite kit.
8) Flashlight. Look for a pocket size flashlight or head lamp with a bright central beam.
9) Map. Find the most up to date version of a map covering the area you will be hiking through.
10) Compass. What good is map without a compass?
Some additional items that you could include are sunblock, insect repellent and a sleeping bag. Again, the extras will depend on where you are going. As with any trip, bring your common sense; it won’t take up any room in your backpack and can save you from most hazards you could encounter on your journey.