Tips for beginner backpackers

Posted on 20 May 2024 By Nomvelo Masango

Are you new to backpacking? The idea of independent travel with one’s belongings in a backpack can be quite intimidating. However, it can be equally as fulfilling.

Wherever you may choose to backpack, you will require all the advice and guidance you can get for the success of your first experience.

Backpacker destinations

Picture: Unsplash / Engin Akyurt

Here are a few helpful tips to ensure that planning for your first backpacking experience is less stressful:

Work on your fitness  

Backpacking can be quite challenging and requires good fitness. Training for your backpacking trip beforehand is highly advantageous. After all, the experience is most enjoyable when you’re in good shape. Some great ways to prepare include working out at the gym, or going on hikes which are progressively harder. Getting fit for backpacking will ensure a great and successful experience overall.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Start small and be careful

As a beginner, it is wise to not bite off way more than you can chew. Start with a short backpacking trip which is either one or two nights long. This will help you get a feel of backpacking as a whole. It will also make you aware of the necessary improvements and preparations for your next trip.

Additionally, it is advisable to not go alone. Whenever you’re attempting something new in the outdoors, it is best to attempt it with others by your side.

All about the gear

Packing for backpacking can truly be one of the hardest things to do as a beginner. The gear which you use for your trip makes all the difference. Thus, it is wise to ensure that your gear is lightweight and of a high quality.

Try and stick to essentials such as your lightweight sleeping bag, water, reliable tent, clothes and an emergency kit. Another important aspect of preparation is testing your gear beforehand. This will ensure that you are adequately prepared. Do you know how to use your mini camping stove? Are you able to set up your tent without difficulty?


It is important to bring the correct type of food, and in the correct amount. When backpacking, you need a lot of energy. Since you will be hiking and burning a lot of calories, food will help you to refuel and recover. High-calorie and high-protein foods are ideal. Look into items such as breakfast bars, bagels, dried fruit, oats, tea and nuts.

Moreover, you want to ensure that you get all the nourishment you need without your backpack being too heavy. Thus, it is wise to pack smart and be aware of the space which your food will take up. Additionally, ensure that you bring basic kitchen supplies which you will use for food preparation. A lightweight set designed for camping is ideal.

Polish up on your navigation skills

When backpacking, you are likely to go further into the wilderness than you would on a simple day hike. For this reason, it is essential to understand basic navigation skills. They will come in handy should you get lost.

Carry a physical map with a compass, and know how to use them. It is also wise to look into some GPS apps which you can download on your phone. Ensure that these are downloaded beforehand as you may not always have signal throughout your backpacking journey.

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ALSO READ: Destination Fun Facts: Kenya

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