You absolutely love camping. And you know you love a good hike. And the time has finally come to combine the two. That’s right, it’s time to take the next step to do an overnight backpacking trip. But what’s a good place to start?
Recently, we had our first overnight backpacking experience, and it was the absolutely the best learning experience. Nic and I decided to just go for it one night. We didn’t go with experienced friends to help us. Nope. We just went. But we researched a couple things before, took in the nature during, and reflected after.
Before the Trip:
Some things to pay attention to: mileage, fees, and location. MILEAGE: A pleasing first backpacking trip is just a small hike. We happened to find the perfect 2.1 mile roundtrip trail, Mirror Lake in the Mount Hood National Forest. FEES: While most backpacking campsites don’t have an fee for the actual campsite, they will have fees for permits in order for you to park or camp overnight. LOCATION: When researching where to camp, note any do’s or don’ts about where to camp. If near water, some campsites make not allow camping within a certain amount of feet. It’s important to follow these rules in order to preserve the natural habitat for everyone else to enjoy.
Pack and Prepare
So you know what to pack for a day hike, but what else do you need? Some majors include: a tent, sleeping bag, extra layers, a light, and more food and water. Unless you’re planning on PB sandwiches the whole time, you’ll want to bring a yummy dinner. We veggified our backpacking dinner with our own homemade roasted mix. Another great option is getting freeze dried or dehydrated backpacking food in order to quickly make delicious hot dinners with just hot water and little pack-in. Our favorite is Backpacker’s Pantry because they have awesome vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options for any backpacker!
Some small things you may not think about: lighter, paper towels, bag for trash(PACK IT IN, PACK IT OUT!), and hand sanitizer.
During The Trip
It’s important to store your food away from your sleeping area. The Trek website suggests to store your food 250 feet or more away (downwind!!) from your tent in order to prevent encounters with wildlife. If you live in a bear-centric area, they have helpful and detailed information about bear safety here. Clean your dishes right after eating to help keep smells away that may attract wild animals.
Other than that, enjoy the world of nature, and don’t forget to plan out your timing with extra time to spare so you aren’t setting up camp or cooking your dinner in the dark. You’ll want to see those cool views.
Take advantage of the absence of light pollution to try and find the Milky Way!
After The Trip
It’s vital to keep your camping gear in tip-top shape. Get your gear ready for the next time you go. This includes drying our your tent to prevent musty and moldy smells from forming. It’s also always a good idea to also clean your dishes again. Overall, make sure things are clean and ready to go in case your next adventure has little time for you to plan!
What was your first overnight hiking trip? Share your experiences using #nacforadventure or tell us in the comments below!
Til our next adventure…