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Backpacker Magazine –

Backpacking 101

Trip-planning tips, gear lists, safety advice, and other essential wisdom ever hiker should know.

Maybe you're ready to try backcountry camping after an inspiring visit to a national park. Maybe you want to introduce your kids to the great outdoors. Or maybe you're a longtime hiker who just needs a refresher after too much time away from the trails. Whatever your goal, this guide to getting started as a backpacker will help you enjoy a lifetime of safe, scenic, and satisfying adventures. With more than 100 smart tips, it answers all the questions: what to eat, where to go, how to read a compass, and much more.

NEW SERIES: Professor Hike - The author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Backpacking and Hiking, Jason Stevenson, answers all of your camping, hiking, cooking, training, you-name-it questions.

Backpacking Basics - Take these 21 trail tips to heart, and you're virtually guaranteed a good hike. bp101_planicon
Pretrip Planning - Do the research, here's how.
Hikes - Not sure where to go? Find a hike here.
Gear Lists - Packing lists for all conditions.  
Kitchen Kit- When cooking in the backcountry, don't leave home without...  
Repair Kit- Don't let a busted strap or a deflating tent ruin your trip.  
Survival Kit- Be prepared for adversity with these pieces of gear.  
Toilet Kit- For your travel companion's sake, pack what's on this list.  
Personal Kit- For your travel companion's sake, pack what's on this list.  
First Aid Kit- A homemade ensemble of the most essential elements for pretty much any hike.
Organize a Backpack- Become a bona fide pack rat with these essential tips.  


Getting the Right Gear - We've made it easy to find great gear for great getaways. bp101_gearicon
Boots - No question, boots are a hiker's most critical gear.
Clothing - When dressing for a wilderness trip, you can't take your apparel decisions lightly.
Packs - When shopping for a new pack, do what any savvy home buyer would—analyze your situation, then prioritize your needs.
Tents - Carrying a tent is necessary insurance against crowded lean-tos, wild weather, and bugs.
Accessories - Don't be be caught without these essentials.
Waterproof Your Wilderness World - A complete guide to buying gear  that will keep you dry—no matter what.


Pack More Power - A nutritionist explains why hikers need protein.
Eating Well - Easy ways to improve nutrition and flavor on the trail
Gorp Recipes - Winning entries from BACKPACKER Readers
Menu Maker -Your guide to eating right on the trail.


Hike Farther, Hike Stronger - The latest, greatest strategies for building strength, endurance, speed, and flexibility. bp101_fiticon
Climb Like Ed - The sky’s the limit with a fitness plan and
climbing tips from world-class mountaineer Ed Viesturs.
Get Trail-Fit Indoors - 4 indoor workouts that'll keep you outdoor-ready.
Four Week Fitness Plan - 30 days to a killer trail body.
Multi-Day Fitness - Train for a long trip with these great endurance tips.


Stay On Course - Six simple tips for backcountry navigation bp101_skillicon
Align Your Compass - If you only learn one navigation skill, this is the one that will unlock the wilderness.
Compass in Action - How to raise your navigation skills from novice to master.
bpk101 Map Contour Lines - Understanding topos: Part 1.
bpk101 Map Symbols and Colors - Understanding topos: Part 2
bpk101 Map Care - Trail tested advice for using and protecting paper topos.
Act Fast - Smart (and stupid) responses to 18 sudden threats.
Using GPS - Become a GPS guru.


The First 30 Seconds - What you can do to thwart a panic attack in five common crisis situations. bp101_surviveicon
Don't Guess–Calculate - When close won't cut it, use these trail-tested tips to hit the mark..
Survive a Night Without Gear -When a day hike turns into an overnight, learn how to take care of yourself.
Build A Never-Fail Campfire -Where campfires are allowed, it's important to know how to build–and put out–flames properly.


bpk101 Leave No Trace Principles - Guidelines for leaving your campsite as pristine as you found it. bp101_lnticon
bpk101 The Low-Impact Hiker - 7 strategies for keeping the backcountry beautiful.


Hypothermia 101 - Advice for preventing and treating this deadly condition bp101_firstaid
Snake Bite First-Aid - Folk remedies only make the victim's condition worse, know the facts
Rash Poison Ivy - How to keep the rash at bay
How to Treat a Blister - Take care of a common ailment in four easy steps


bpk101 Stay Dry Anywhere - Tricks on how to stay dry and keep your gear dry bp101_warmicon

Sleep Warmer - Eight easy ways to stay warm at night


Escape From Unfriendly Natives - Tips for avioding bears, skunks, snakes, and ticks. bp101_bugsicon
How to Keep Bears Away
Learn your black bears from your brown bears then figure out how to keep them away from your camp.
Thwart Mosquitoes - Take a cue from the locals, who fight back on multiple fronts.
Hang a Bear Bag - How to stop bears from robbing you blind.


Star Star Star
Apr 08, 2014

to WEBmaster: please fix the first line of this article:
"ever hiker should know." how to spell!

Star Star Star Star Star
Jul 16, 2013


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Star Star Star Star Star
Nov 30, 2012

Thank you for sharing:)

Oct 30, 2012

In your heading above, it says "essential wisdom EVER hiker should know" Please fix your typo..

Sep 02, 2012

Don't forget to forget anything you ever read from Backpacker Magazine BEFORE you even begin to think about an outdoor trip. The BM mission statement states they want to be "trusted", and they were for many years. Lately though, Dorn, Hostetler and the bunch have gone whacky. Fly fishing advice not relevant to backpacking?, clean your leather boots by tossing them in a washing machine? - no wonder they don't list a customer service phone number, it would be flooded by complaints. Go ahead Dorn, unleash your inner compass - how do you get to the Galiuro Mountains??, pg.71 09/12?? Oh, GPS set for southern hemisphere? Gorman doing handstands while looking at his compass??

Aug 24, 2012

AZ Hiker
Aug 09, 2012

Read Felix! the Sugar Glider Be Safe Hike Smart (Amazon) before you hit the trail! Learn what survival items to keep in your vehicle, how to navigate your way with and without a map or compass, and how to get rescued. A fast, easy read that could save your life and will definitely make your adventure more safe and enjoyable!

AZ Hiker
May 31, 2012

And don't forget to read Felix! the Sugar Glider Be Safe Hike Smart (Amazon). Learn essential hiking skills, trail ethics, and how to navigate your way with and without a map or compass. A fast, easy read that could maybe save your life and will definitely make your hike more safe and enjoyable!


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