Backpacking Tips and Advice

File a trip itinerary, including route, number in the party, amount of food, expected return time and destination emergency contact information with a friend or family member. Make sure that the person knows to look for you if you don’t check in by the agreed-upon time.
Obey all private property signs and get permission to cross private land. Close gates after you pass through them.
Remove anything valuable from your car, and leave your glove box and center console open, so would-be thieves aren’t tempted to break in.
Line your backpack with a heavy-duty trash bag. Put your sleeping bag and clothes inside the bag and roll it closed to keep the water out. Once your gear gets wet in the backcountry, it will never dry out.
When you repack your backpack each morning, keep often-used items high in the pack, and put items you’ll only use at camp that night deeper inside.
Layer your clothing. Wear synthetic or wool long underwear as a base layer (you can get different weights depending on the climate), an insulating sweater or fleece layer, and a windproof, water-repellent layer on top. Add or remove layers as you warm or chill. Just avoid cotton clothing during cold, rainy weather, since it provides no insulation once it gets wet.
Wear synthetic, wicking sock liners under your synthetic or wool socks. They'll keep your feet warmer and dryer, and they’ll reduce blisters.
Unless your route sticks to well-marked trails, know how to use a map and compass before you start on your trip.
Make sure your boots fit properly. Improper fit causes blisters and may contribute to frostbite by limiting circulation. Don’t start your trip with new boots; break them in at home.
10  Begin and end your days with a hot meal. But during the day, stick to ready-to-eat snacks and simple-to-prepare cold lunches (unless it’s really cold out). You'll save time and hassle by not having to unpack your stove and pot. And when you stop, remember to add an extra clothing layer to keep warm.
11  Never feed wild animals, no matter how cute and cuddly. They won’t be so adorable when they gnaw through your new backpack after you go to bed, looking for more treats.
12  Purify all water before you drink it, either by heating it to a rolling boil, treating it with iodine or other purifying chemicals, or pumping it through a filter/purifier.
13  The best water sources are bubbling springs or tributaries that flow after rain or snowmelt. Major rivers are often contaminated with industrial and agricultural pollutants.
14  If you find yourself getting cold and tired, eat an extra snack and drink water. Digesting that food will generate energy and warm you up.
15  On longer trips, take a freeze-dried meal as a quick and easy dinner. If it’s rainy or you’re especially tired, you’ll appreciate having an easy-to-prepare meal.
16  If you get really lost, stop, start signaling and wait. Wandering makes you harder to find, wears you out and leads to panic.
17  If you must cross a stream, it’s safer to cross in a pair or threesome, with group members circling up like a football huddle. Shuffle your feet as you move across to avoid getting a foot caught, and loosen your pack’s shoulder harnesses and waist belt. If you fall, drop the pack immediately. You don’t want to weigh yourself down midstream.
18  Don’t cross moving water that’s deeper than your waist – you’re in danger of being swept away. Move up and down the bank – maybe up to a mile each way. You’ll probably find a better, shallower spot.
19  Don’t cross streams barefoot. Wear camp shoes, sandals or hiking boots (they’ll eventually dry out).
20  If you feel yourself getting a blister, stop immediately. Cover the hotspot with a piece of duct tape or athletic tape. If a blister’s already formed, cut a donut of moleskin to tape around it.
21  Walk through puddles instead of going around them, to reduce the amount of trail damage. Likewise, don’t cut across switchbacks.
22  A headlamp makes a great hands-free light source when hiking after dark or doing nighttime camp chores, such as preparing dinner, setting up tent or writing in a journal.
23  Drink plenty of water. In fact, drink more than you think you need. Your urine will be almost clear, and you’ll have to go frequently if you’re properly hydrated. To answer the call of nature in the wild, find a spot that’s at least 200 feet off the trail and farther than 200 feet from a water source.
24  When defecating in the wilderness, use a camp shovel to make a six-inch-deep hole. Do your business, bury the toilet paper and cover the hole. Brush ground covering back over the spot to return it to its undisturbed state.
25  When setting up camp, pick a flat, leafy area for the tent. It’ll be softer and will drain better, so you won’t wake up damp.
26  If you’re going to build a fire, use an existing fire pit. Collect fallen wood for burning, and avoid cutting live wood. If there is no pit, build your fire in a shallow hole and bury the ashes when you break camp.
27  Store food and snacks overnight only in food bags – not in your pack, pockets or tent. Hang your food bags from tree branches so wild animals won’t pilfer them at night.
28  Have a pair of sacred socks and shoes for camp. Put them on in the evenings, once there’s no chance you’ll get them wet or dirty. Your feet will thank you, and your mood will brighten, no matter what the weather.
29  If you sleep cold, eat a snack before bed, sleep in a light layer and wear a stocking cap.
30  Don’t use soap in a body of water, like a stream, creek or lake, even if it’s biodegradable soap.
31  Wash pots with straight water or a small amount of biodegradable soap. Dump them out by broadcasting the water over a wide area, away from your sleeping and food prep area.
32  When you brush your teeth, spit out the toothpaste in a mist – like giving a ”raspberry.” That allows it to biodegrade quickly without making a gooey, soapy mess.
33  Unzip your sleeping bag in the morning to remove moisture, and shake the bag to restore loft.
Check back here now and again. We’ll be adding tips from time to time