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Any tips for first time backpacker!!!

Hello, Matthew here! I was wondering on some tips you guys can provide me for backpacking in Georgia for next year! I want to figure out what items to buy and get everything situated for next year this year and also how much ideally should i need to save up for all the gear!!!!!


Thank you in advanced!!!

10 Replies

Borrow before you buy to see what you like (and don't like).  Packs, tents, hammocks, etc. 

Post a lot of questions on here and heed the advice.  There is a LOT of knowledge and experience here and the folks love to share it.  Take advantage of that.

Find a moderate trail and use it to try out / break in new gear before you take it on a 10, 20 or 100+ mile trip.  If it sucks, better to find out on a 5 mile day hike that a 5 day, week or month hike.

If you haven't already, join REI.  Take advantage of the sales and the garage sale areas in the store.

Make sure someone knows where you're going and when you should be back.  I print a map with GaiaGPS with my route and checkpoints and give a copy to my wife, I put one in the floorboard of my vehicle and keep one in my pack.

Drink before you're thirsty.  Eat before you're hungry.  Stop before you're tired.

Have fun.  You'll see things innnature that most people never get to see.  Waterfalks.  Huge trees.  Weird critters (bugs, birds, people 🙂 ).  Take a momemt to enjoy it and appreciate it.

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

I agree wholeheartedly with @nathanu about borrowing or renting before you buy... if you can. Not always easy to find people to borrow from - especially if none of your friends are into the activity.

I'll add this - when you do start buying, there is "the big three" - your shelter, your sleep system, and your backpack. Some people say you should get your tent first, some will say get your sleep system first, and others will say it doesn't matter. But almost everyone agrees that you should get your pack last.

Personally, and this is just my opinion, get your sleep system first: sleeping bag or quilt, mattress, and pillow (if you want). That will help you determine the size of the tent you'll need/want. Not the only deciding factor but knowing how long and wide your mattress is helps to determine if a tent is too small on the inside.

Then buy your tent.

Finally, get your pack. You don't want a pack too small or not stout enough to carry your gear. But nor do you want too large of a pack (although extra space is a good thing). But having your tent and sleep system first allows you to ensure you get the right sized pack.

Next, if you don't know how to read a paper map and use a compass, take a class or study up online. It's not that hard but you will want to have a paper map and compass wherever you go. And I am a HUGE proponent of GPS and using it but a failsafe backup could end up being a literal lifesaver.

Go to YouTube (or ask here) and learn about planning a backpacking trip - the things to know beforehand, etc. Check out REI's article on backpacking for beginners.

Two more things and then I'll shut up: 1) Learn the 10 essentials and the seven Leave No Trace principles and 2) don't allow yourself to get overwhelmed. There's a lot to know but learning this stuff can also be a lot of fun. Come here often ask questions, and welcome to the backpacking lifestyle.

“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.” (John Muir)

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

@Dad_Aint_Hip nailed several things I missed, teamwork makes the dream work 🙂

One thing I would add on the topics of sleep and shelter, if you've never done either tent camping or hammock camping, try both before you invest too much on either (time or money).  I do both  depending on expected terrain, weather and whatever mood I'm in while packing and love both.  I was a tent camper first but absolutely love my hammock now, especially in hot weather (cold butt syndrome is nice of its 80F+).

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

For that matter, how much day hiking experience de you have?  That is a good beginning, especially when comind with car camping in between hikes.

I would buy the tent last, among the necessary equipment necessary for overnights.  I had backpacked for several years efore eventually getting a tent.  you can do amazing things with a tarp as some string and this is a worthwhile skill in itself.

Boots (footwear) - absolutely critical.  Be sure you feet are happy!!

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

I’m not sure if anyone said this yet but definitely a bear bag if your hiking in! We camped along part of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia last fall and had bear prints all around our site and on our car. 

Okay, my tip:

The last thing I say as I leave the trailhead is - Whatever I forgot, I can do without. (Because I am gonna have to.)

Thank you all for the welcoming tips and advice!!!!!

I am not terribly experienced (at least not in thr last 30 years) but, get good, well fit, durable, comfortable boots/shoes and socks. It won't really matter what other gear you have if, after 10 miles, you have hamburger feet. At REI stores  they have these little rocky looking inclines so you csn feel what the boot  is like on a sterp downhill. Cool idea. Good luck.

A couple of points to add:

  • Don't rely too heavily on YouTube.  Remember, lot's of the people (not everyone) posting on YouTube are in it for the "likes".  They tell you what worked for them with authority even if they don't really know what they are talking about and they tend to leave out the bad.  That's not the case with everything on YouTube, but think things through and remember what works for one person may not work for you.
  • The first time you to out backpacking, go with someone with some experience and do a trail on the easier side so if things start going cockeyed, you have some help and an easier way out.  That being said, having a buddy along also means you can share a tent including splitting the weight ie one person carries the poles and stakes and the other carries the body and fly.

Good Luck and Enjoy!

Found Myself Outside