Most backcountry hiking essentials aren’t essential when you’re close to home. However, you’re obviously stepping up your game. You’ve been out in the woods more and more and are starting to go on longer and longer adventures. We know the feeling of wilderness addiction all too well.
There’s going to come to a point at which you cross a line from the front country to hiking in the backcountry. You might have already stepped out of the ‘safe zone’ a few times without even realizing it.
The backcountry isn’t always days of hiking away. Depending on where you are, you might be able to drive most of the way, and in just a short hike be quite far from help. Always be aware of how remote your hiking trail is. Keep these backcountry hiking tips in mind any time you are far out and off the beaten path.
Backcountry Hiking Tips
You’re going to be on your own and relying on yourself. So make sure that you know how to prepare for backcountry hiking. This means taking more ‘just in case’ supplies. That includes emergency fire starter, a water purification pump, first aid kit, extra warm layers in case of storms, and a more careful consideration of food and water.
Beyond the things you bring along, though, you’re going to want to prepare your mind and body for long backcountry hiking. It’s good to push your limits, but make sure you choose trails you can safely manage. Moreover, make sure you know your route, as well as all your options for camping, refilling water, and escaping to safety, should anything go wrong.
No matter how much you have studied your maps, you’re going to need good route finding skills for backcountry hiking. Trails are often less maintained, more confusing, and more prone to natural changes like erosion, wash-outs, and animal intervention, so to speak. Taking a wrong turn deep in the mountains can put you in a perilous situation if you’re not careful and attentive.
The most important part of finding your way when you’re deep in the woods is to slow down and take your time. Rushed decisions are rarely the right ones. This is especially true if you are tired, hungry, frustrated, or scared. Make sure that you do your route finding with a clear head.
If you are afraid you have lost the trail, then don’t panic. You would be best served by a break, a snack, some water, and a bit of time to think. Rushing off in search of solutions rarely gets you where you need to go. And you definitely don’t want to get any farther off track than you may already be.
If you hadn’t noticed yet, basically all essential backcountry backpacking tips are about safety in the backcountry. That’s for good reason. If you’re far from help and don’t have cell service, a minor injury or mistake could become a serious problem.
The number one rule of hiking in the backcountry is don’t get hurt. That means hike more slowly, place your feet more carefully, and don’t take unnecessary risks. Don’t jump when you could step, don’t run when you could walk, and don’t get so carried away with having fun that you do something rash.
Most accidents in the backcountry happen in the afternoon. That’s because you may be tired, hungry, and focused more on getting to camp then on where you’re going. Always remember that fatigue is the number one cause of accidents. Keep yourself hydrated, fed, and focussed.
Last but not least. Always have an emergency plan when you’re backcountry hiking. Someone at home should know where you’re going and when you plan to be back. You should always know your safest and fastest route back to civilization, should you have to pull the plug.
Unfortunately, the most important backcountry tips are all big downers. But don’t spend all your time worrying about what could go wrong. Remember to enjoy the beauty of the experience and maintain a positive attitude.
After all, if you’re not enjoying the journey you might as well have stayed home and watched Netflix.