By Kristina Eaton
Long term camping and hiking trips require more than just a good pair of boots. From thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail to trekking in the outback for weeks at a time, here are 8 tips to prepare, plan and remain positive on your upcoming long term camping and hiking trip.
Know the Laws
Most laws surrounding long term camping and hiking trips are in place to protect the wilderness, so it’s important to be familiar with them.
Use the Internet to study up on the laws concerning campfires, food storage and camping in each area you intend to spend time in. Some thru-hiking trails even require a permit for use, so get in touch with the right authorities to make sure you aren’t breaking any laws. There’s nothing like spending the last of your cash on a silly ticket instead of a bus ride home.
It’s hard to enjoy the scenery when you’re doubled over under a pack full of useless stuff.
When packing for a long term camping and hiking trip, a good rule of thumb is to pack everything you think you need and then get rid of half of it.
Once you’ve narrowed down the items you can’t live without, figure out which of those you can replace with a lighter item that has multiple uses. For example, a collapsible rubber bowl can double as your coffee cup and dinner bowl, a light tarp can serve as a very efficient shelter and wind-proof clothing will keep you warm while cutting down on the number of heavy layers you need to pack.
Eat and Drink Well
If you’re training for your long term camping and hiking trip, which you should be, start paying attention to your pace and caloric intake. Use this information to plan how often you’ll need to resupply during your trip as well as with what kinds of foods.
Next, decide if you’d rather send yourself resupply packages or stop at grocery stores along the way. Take into account that you might tire of the food that you packed in those resupply boxes at the beginning of you trip, but also that small roadside grocery stores might not have exactly the items that you’re looking for. Many thru-hikers end up with a combination of both strategies.
Drink water and lots of it. Make sure it’s sterilized. You really don’t want a stomach bug sending you off of the trail and into the hospital.
Track Your Budget
If your resupply strategy has you stopping to shop during your long term camping and hiking trip, get your budget in order before taking off. Always include at least an extra 20% for splurges and emergencies and keep track of your spending along the way.
Even if you’re planning on shipping or having someone ship you supplies, you should always have some cash on hand in case one of your shoes springs a leak or you absolutely have to have a giant ice cream cone in the town you just hiked 20 miles to.
Heed the Weather
You’re going to be out in the elements for 99 percent of your long term camping and hiking trip, so pay attention to what you’re in for.
Be realistic when comparing your pace to your expected start and finish dates. Research common weather patterns and, most importantly, don’t risk your life in unexpected inclement weather just to stay on schedule.
Listen to Your Body
Your body is your most important piece of gear on a long term camping and hiking trip. Don’t neglect it.
Start from the bottom up by taking good care of your feet. Many campers and hikers will say that wearing clean, dry and comfortable socks and shoes is one of the best ways to ensure a successful long term camping and hiking trip.
For good measure, also remember to take as many rest days as your body needs and never, ever ignore an injury. Eat as well as you can while out on the trail and stay hydrated.
Listen to Your Mind
After your body, your mind is the next most important aspect of your long term camping and hiking trip.
Be realistic, but not pessimistic. You are going to get dirty. You are going to get tired. You are going to miss the comforts of home. You are going to want to give up at some point. Positive thoughts will carry you along your journey even when you think your body can’t anymore – so don’t forget to pack them.
It’s Not a Race
It’s often been said that comparison is the thief of joy, and that’s just as true for your long term camping and hiking trip as it is for anything else in life.
Don’t over exert yourself. Don’t change your pace to fit in with other hikers and campers. Travel in a way that is best for your mind, body and spirit and you will have the most amazing time of your life – especially if it doesn’t go exactly according to plan.