If you are an avid day hiker but haven’t ever tried a backpacking excursion where you spend time sleeping along the trail as you go, you should definitely consider doing so. Backpacking is such an incredible experience that will bring you closer to the natural environment. However, it does take some preparation because you are carrying everything you need to live for however many days you will be spending on the trail. Here are a few fundamental tips to get ready for an awesome backpacking hiking trip.

Choose the Trip Wisely

The first thing you need to do is to figure out where you want to hike and for how many days or miles. You can definitely sign up with a group that has a guide and other like-minded hikers to help with directions, meal preparation, and cleanup. You can also plan your own itinerary. Either way, you will want to choose a trip that is in line with your level of fitness and with what sights you want to see. Make sure to download trail maps that show distances, terrain conditions, and areas designated for camping.

Condition Yourself and Your Gear

It is so important to practice walking with a full pack because that is what you will be doing for a day or many days. Fill your pack up with the amount of weight you think you can carry, and just get outside and walk. Make sure you walk flat spots as well as hills, so you know how to distribute your body and pack weight while walking. Balance is important. While you are conditioning, do so in the footwear you will be donning during the trip. You have to break in your hiking boots, so you don’t end up with blisters and chafed skin after the first day of your hike. That could ruin the entire trip. You might also waterproof your boots.

Pack Accordingly and Well Ahead of Time

Make a list of everything you think you will need for the trip. I mean everything. Consult with your local specialty or sporting goods store for what is recommended to take along. When you have made a list, place all the items on your bed or living room floor and start editing. Only bring what will actually fit inside your pack that is absolutely necessary, such as clothing that can be layered for all weather conditions, a sleeping bag, tent, camp stove, first aid kit, water bottles, compass, trail maps, and dehydrated food, etc. Be prepared to edit a few times.

There are so many things you can do to prepare for a backpacking hiking trip, including basic online research about the trip. But being physically ready and having the correct gear for the conditions are probably the most important. Don’t forget to give a family member or friend a complete itinerary of the trip before you go so they know where you are along the way. Most of all, have a great time.