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Backpacking newbie trying to tag along with like minded people

Hey Guys,

I am new to backpacking. As a newbie backpacking can get really overwhelming especially due to the idea of being on your own and of course there's all this gear you have to buy. While I am getting some really good help from the REI store folks but due to the covid 19 situation all the activity classes are not happening. Is it a good idea to look for someone who I can tag along for the first couple of backpacking until to get a hang of it? Unfortunately, none of my friends are up to it so yeah I am on my own.

For a quick background, I live in North Texas and I have done a lot of small to medium day long hikes in Zion, Bryce, Smokies and Rockies NP's so I have some experience. I also like outdoor and nature adventure so that's why I am putting in some money to buy all the necessary equipment and gears for backpacking. Any help in finding like minded people to tag along would be really helpful.

22 Replies

@trails This is so exciting! If you have Facebook, I would recommend joining some of the hiking and backpacking groups that are centered around the area you're looking to backpack in. You should be able to find some people to join there!

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Sure and I was talking to someone in the REI's today and they also suggested joining some local FB groups. It is definitely exciting but needs careful planning and the first couple of times are not going to be easy unless I have an experienced backpacker with me. So I will try and thank you.

@trails no problem!

I'm only 23 but I have a lot of experience backpacking, especially in the backcountry, in a variety of environments and locations (I'm actually planning 2 backpacking trips for the next 2 weeks right now!). So don't be afraid to shoot me a DM or comment and ask me any other questions you might have. I'm always happy to help!

Here are two other REI Conversations posts that you may find helpful (I've commented on both as well):

Essentials while carrying light

Suggestions for backpacking meals

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Ideally, you would have an experienced mentor to advise you.  Lacking that person, there is lots of good advice on this site and others.  Consult them and consider carefully.

IMHO, the three most important items to consider are the three B's - Boots, Bag (sleeping) and Backpack.  Your footwear must be suitable for the conditions you will encounter and keep you stable and pain free.  hiking with blisters is no fun at all!

You sleeping bag must keep you comfy in the conditions you encounter because adequate rest is crucial.  Along with this you need suitable insulation underneath and something overhead, like a tarp, or in severe cold or wind, a decent tent.  A tarp, properly used, is surprisingly adequate, but likely you will get a tent.  That can come later.

The backpack must be properly fitted and comfortable, and of adequate capacity.  The major pack manufacturers today make decent products suitable for their intended use.  It is probably better to be a bit too large than too small.

Hopefully you already possess the items discussed in the "Ten Essentials" - they are useful sometimes on even the shortest day hikes.  This would include adequate clothing, especially a hooded, wind and water resistant parka which is breathable.

Cooking can be  accomplished with a single steel or aluminum mug or a more elaborate cook set costing well into three figures.  You may already have something suitable.

You could cook over an open campfire, but you will soon want something more dependable.  Again, a wide range of options, from homemade alcohol stoves to $100 items.

Any piece of outdoor gear must be effective for its intended uses, reasonably safe if used properly, as light as possible, and durable and dependable.  If you have to choose between something that meets these criteria and something cheaper that does not, go ahead and spend the bucks.  Some dark night you will be glad you did

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
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First of all thanks @hikermor for the elaborate reply. At the moment, I am talking to some of the local REI team figuring out the right type of gears I need. In the upcoming weeks hopefully I will get the necessary gears. You're right about the three B's. I am currently trying to wear my hiking shoes when I visit the local REI and where I need to really walk a couple of miles as well as buying items e.g. last week I bought the Osprey Agnes Aether 60 or 70 some backpack that was too big. That prompted me to walk into one of the local REI's and they suggested some stuff. I have Deuter AC lite 50 + 10 backpack, Sea to summit ultralight sleeping pad and I am still debating about the tent and sleeping bag.

For cooking, I am thinking about the Jet something or MSR stove kit. Will take my backpack to the REI shop and get fitted once I receive it. Man there are so many things to consider but eventually I will get there.

@trails good choice on the Deuter backpack! I use Deuter and absolutely love the brand!

For the sleeping bag I use REI Co-op's Joule 21 sleeping bag. It's a bit expensive, but totally worth it and has done wonders on both warm and cold nights! Here is a link to the men's version of the bag (the Igneo 17).

For a tent, I would recommend REI's Half Dome or Quarter Dome series. If you think there's a chance you will backpack with another person (with whom you don't need to social distance), or you foresee wanting to have extra space/gear storage inside the tent itself, I would invest in a 2-person tent. Otherwise, I'd suggest a 1-person tent. Personally, I alternate between my ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 1-person (also a tent I highly recommend) and my REI Half Dome 2-person tent.

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
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@bryndsharpI also have a lynx 1 that I used for several years. Other than being a little on the heavy side, it's a great tent for one person. Tough, easy to set up, fairly tall for sitting up in, and I never had any rain problems with it. Used it in all four seasons. I moved on to an REI Quarter Dome, mostly for the weight but also for a little extra height. I'm more than pleased with it, and I'll be using it for a long time. I would recommend either of these for someone just starting out, probably the biggest factor would be their budget.


Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

@trails Thanks for reaching out!

Welcome to the community! You're going to find lots of folks with good advice here. If you haven't yet, we encourage you to jump on the backpacking board and take a look there. You'll find lots of good advice and newcomers to backpacking. Here are a few threads that we think you'll like:

Feel free to check those posts out and ask any questions you would like. The best advice I could give you is the adventurers credo: 'Don't let the first time be the first time.' Which is to say, practice with your gear before you hit the trail on your first backpacking trip. Learn to cook with your stove at home, pitch your tent in your backyard, and inflate your sleeping pad in the comfort of your living room. 8 miles from civilization is a pretty hard place to realize you don't really know how to use something that is really important to your trip.

Hopefully this helps, thanks!

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Thank you REI team and @REI-JohnJ I will definitely try out everything once before I go but the nervousness is there. I have done a lot of hiking but this is something totally different. I am going to checkout the links you suggested. Thanks for your suggestion and guidance.