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Beginning Stages of Backpacking - Advice or Guidance?

It has been so long since I have been backpacking I would consider myself a beginner.  All of the gear has changed/improved I will be starting over.


I am about 5 years from retirement and as a gift to myself I am planning on attempting a thru hike of the Ice Age Trail or as an Alternate the Potomac Heritage Trail.


Looking for light advice or guidance on Getting myself ready, opinions of the trails, gear, anything else anyone might want to share as motivation or to help me prepare for the upcoming journey.

4 Replies


what gear do you have?  It might not be as obsolete as you think.  A lot depends upon the location and season when you will be out.

It is best just to get out there and get yourself in shape and accustomed to the routines.  Gear is secondary.  I shake my head in disbelief at what I hauled into the wilderness back when.....

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one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.


 When are you planning on going?


Old gear is not bad gear. It might be a little heavier but probably stronger and will last longer. To get into shape in an urban environment, walk, walk, walk, and take the steps rather than an elevator whenever you can. As far as starting over, while your experience might have been years ago, you probably know more than many newbies out on the trails today.

aka "Boonerelli"

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

As I aged, I found that carrying a 38 lb pack was bad for my spine.  I didn't want to invest in ultralight gear as it's too expensive for me but I did find a lighter weigh pack (Granite Gear from Massdrop) & tent (Eureka Spitfire) that was in my price range.  I try and keep my backpack trail weight to 28 to 30lbs at the start of the trail head.  Research what you want with 1st 2nd & 3rd choice and look for deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  Water is heavy so consider taking enough to get you to the next water spot to refill.  Go for a test hike with your fully loaded pack to see if your old frame will tolerate it.  🙂  If your fully loaded pack is heavy, I  would suggest  renting a light weight backpack and tent.