Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive
Be stunned by the beautiful vista, not an uncrossable river. An hour of guidebook research and a phone call to the rangers can make all your surprises happy ones.
- Choose a destination within driving distance, so you can reschedule if bad weather threatens.
- Stick to well-marked routes with easy terrain, established campsites, and plentiful water.
- Plan on hiking no more than 5 to 7 miles a day.
- Learn when the bugs are biting, if you need permits, what weather to expect, and where you can find a post-trip beer.
- Let someone at home know your plans, and stick to your route so you'll be easy to find if necessary.
[Resource] The Basic Essentials of Backpacking
, by Harry Roberts ($8)
Thanks to today's lightweight equipment, a backpack loaded with all your weekend supplies should weigh less than 35 pounds.
- Rent a tent. Many outfitters rent shelter, packs, and other gear. It cuts initial costs and lets you experiment before buying.
- Pamper your feet. Prevent blisters and other foot woes by getting lightweight boots that are slightly larger than your street shoes and matching them with wool hiking socks.
- Pare your threads. Pack clothes for a 24-hour period, on trail and in camp, and wear the same stuff all weekend. Throw in extra socks to keep your feet happy.
- Cook like a pro. Get a lightweight canister stove and one or two standard fuel canisters for a long weekend.
- Sleep like a baby. Bed down on a sleeping pad that's 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches thick, and with dimensions that don't leave your limbs dangling off the sides. Likewise your bag should match your frame--try it in the store--and should be rated at least 10°F warmer than the temperatures you expect.
- Go a little luxe. It's not a monastery out there. Sneak a luxury item into your pack: a deck of cards, a Lexan bottle of vino, a good book, or camera gear.
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