Backpacking is an exciting opportunity to explore the outdoors and discover new lands while having fun. No matter where your trip takes you, though, the most critical step starts at home with planning. The kind of accessories you carry and the destination to choose should complement each other to give you the most fulfilling experience. Here are five planning tips for novice backpackers.

Consider your destination

The first important step to take is to choose your backpacking destination. As a beginner backpacker, you may have to consult more experienced backpackers on potential recommendations when selecting a destination. Try to stick close to home or in a familiar area. This way, you reduce the chances of mishaps, such as getting lost. Even if you know a region like the back of your hand, a good map will be your friend!

Pack the essential gear

Your backpacking ambitions will determine the kind of gear to carry. When packing your camping gear, you will always want to have essentials, including a tent, a sleeping bag, some boots, a compass, and a set of personal equipment for your outdoor convenience. You may not necessarily need to buy these items, especially if you can rent them, but if you find yourself itching to backpack week after week, purchases may be worthy investments.

Plan your food

Food is just as important as anything else for your backpacking adventure. Among the top 10 tips for beginner backpackers is understanding the kind of food items to carry on your trip. Freeze-dried foods are generally recommended as they won’t spoil over short amounts of time in fluctuating temperatures. It would help if you also carried sufficient portions, depending on the number of days you intend to stay out, the strenuousness of the trail, and your personal dietary needs. For particularly adventurous backpackers, this may be an excellent time to try your hand at fishing or hunting—make sure you bring enough food to last in case you can’t catch anything!

Take safety precautions

Before embarking on your backpacking trip outdoors, you should always take a “safety first” approach. Beyond packing a first-aid kit, safety precautions ensure that you encounter as little risk as possible while traveling. Novice backpackers should avoid bad weather, dangerous wildlife, or trail security concerns. If you have your heart set on a location but worry that you aren’t quite ready for it, see if you can go with an experienced friend or in a group. 

Evaluate personal readiness

After all the logistics and planning involved, you should ensure your physical and mental wellbeing before the trip. Physical readiness has to do with ensuring that you are healthy and robust enough to stay outdoors for a couple of days. Mental preparedness will have you familiarize yourself with the trip and adjust your mindset to this new way of living—even if it’s just for a few days.