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Newbie looking for backpacking advice

Hello, my sister and I will be doing our first ever backpacking trip in late Oct. We are going to hike the Georgia portion of the Bartram trail.  Does anyone have any overall backpacking pointers or advice from hiking this trail.


4 Replies

That's a long section for a first hike!  Not saying you shouldn't try it, but you might want to make sure you have some bail out options. Not to be melodramatic, but on a long trip you might find that you really hate what you're doing, or your equipment isn't appropriate, or it gets really cold and rainy and you're showing signs of hypothermia.  (You do know the signs of that?)

Can you predict the weather by watching the sky and other methods?  Handy skill to have, so you don't suddenly find yourself drenched to the skin with the temperature is dropping.  It doesn't take much of a temperature drop in those conditions for things to get dangerous fast.  I'm in the Georgia mountains, and even now night time temps are in the mid-50's.

Make sure you know your gear very well, and that it's appropriate for expected conditions.  I'd recommend an overnighter or two to help dial it in before the long trip.  One mistake we all have made, and sometimes still do, is "packing your fears".  I've been hiking for decades, and I still fall victim  to tossing this, that or the other into my pack "just in case".

Sorry to sound grim, but if this is a first ever backtracking trip, you may be biting off more than you can chew. I'd hate for you to end up having a miserable time of it.  I'd hate it a lot more if you got yourself into trouble!  Do you have time to do that trail in shorter sections, with a little time in between to regroup?  You might enjoy that a lot better.



Retired medical technologist and engineer
REI member since 1978
Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Definitely do some shorter trips first, in order to get the kinks out of your gear and find out what works for you.  Physical conditioning is a good idea as well.  How well developed are your navigation skills?  First aid?

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

Hi @Lisa3865 - congratulations on gearing up for your first backpacking trip! It's one of my most beloved activities, and I hope you and your sister will love it too!

While we won't be discussing the Bartram trail in particular, you may really enjoy and benefit from attending our free Fall Backpacking Basics Virtual Class this Wednesday, September 15th. It's an informative and fun way to learn how to plan and pack for a trip, what to expect, tips & tricks, and gear needs.

If you can't attend this Wednesday, we've got lots of upcoming REI Virtual Classes that you may also enjoy, with many new topics and classes being added frequently. 

And don't forget that we offer free Virtual Outfitting as well, where we can discuss your particular needs and get you geared up to have a great time!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

@Lisa3865 My best advice for those just staring out:  Beginner Backpackers should pick Beginner Trails.  While I'm not a rookie anymore, I still consider myself a beginner and therefore I'm still trying to be smart about which trails I tackle for now.  As far as gear - you'll have to figure out what works for you and where you put your priorities on what you want your gear to do for you.  Just do LOTS of research on that.  As far as skills - research and classes definitely help, but nothing beats just getting out there and getting experience (which circles back to my first point).  Best of luck!