Planning Your Hike while Backpacking

Planning your hike 1

By Janessa Tice Miller

Planning your hike should consider some key things before you head out on a backpacking trip. Doing this correctly from the start will help ensure your hike goes smoothly and safely.

Planning Your Hike Route & Daily Mile Goal

Before you can do anything else on a backpacking trip, you need to plan the route that you will hike. It could take on the form of a long through-hike, a week on a trail, or just a night or two out in the wilderness. Whatever the case, you need to narrow down your route and prepare.

Once you decide where you are going, you should plan how many miles you would like to hike within each day. Be realistic! It’s important that you know your own physical limits, and realize how many miles you can or cannot hike. It’s a good idea to try out a few day hikes first, just to test out your own stamina.

You don’t have to hike the exact number of miles each day, but you will want to hit very close to your goal.

Get Familiar With Your Route Each Morning

Planning your hike 3Before you ever leave on your trip, you will want to be familiar with the layout of your full trip. But the intricacies of the day ahead must be looked at individually before you head off in the morning. Make sure you are not wasting your time by taking an ill move, and check on how far you need to walk each day, and where you aim to camp. You should always carry maps of your route with you to assist in this process.

It’s also important to be continually aware of and checking on water sources. Some days you may need to hike a bit further than normal. Or you may need to readjust your route slightly if water levels are down, for example. So always keep a larger goal in mind, but focus on the day ahead on each individual morning.

Take Consistent, Scheduled Breaks Throughout The Day

If you are planning your hike to go all day, experts say you should consistently stop to rest. With each rest stop plan to grab a protein-boosting snack, drink some water, and sit down to rest or take a quick nap.

The length of your rest will depend on your own body and the amount of miles you are hiking. Some people like to take 5-10 minute breaks every hour. Others take 15-30 minutes every two hours. Some people just sit down and grab a snack. Others always take off their shoes and enjoy a 15 minute nap.

The point of these rest breaks is to give your body the boost it needs to stay healthy and energized. You can play with different systems to figure out what works best for your own health and hiking style. Then ensure to be consistent in whatever you choose.

Make Sure Someone Knows Where You Are and When You Plan to Return

Before you leave, you need to make sure that someone knows where you’re going and when you should be back. This is most important when planning your hike. It is a preventive safety measure that is always wise. If you go missing, someone will know where and when to look for you. Camping for Women’s free P.I.N. (Planned Itinerary Notification) is something that is specifically designed for this purpose.

It is also important to make sure that you have obtained any permits or passes you might need for the area you are planning to hike. In many places, these permits are also an added safety measure. This is because the authorities know when a person has not appeared that should have left a trail.

Planning your hike 6

There is also a range of other online resources to assist you to prepare, including this one.

Multiple Contributor at

Janessa Tice Miller lives in a 17ft Casita Travel Trailer with her husband as they travel full time across North America. She loves making her home in beautiful places and exploring nature from a canoe or trail. When at camp or on the road, Janessa spends her time reading, writing, and completing college courses online. Follow her travels at and on Instagram.

12 thoughts on “Planning Your Hike while Backpacking

  • March 18, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    I love hiking but, since I suffered from spine TB it is still weak so can’t do it sometime now. Amazing tips though

    • March 18, 2017 at 9:39 pm

      Hope that it will get better soon to allow you to enjoy hiking again. All the best.

  • March 17, 2017 at 3:14 am

    Both camping and hiking are my most favorite thing to do. Love this post!!

  • March 15, 2017 at 4:29 am

    We love hiking! Unfortunately, our last hike wasn’t very well planned. We’ll use these tips next time.

  • March 14, 2017 at 8:03 pm

    I want to backpack more! The one time I did it my group had an amazing time. This is helpful for a novice like me!

  • March 14, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    Great tips. I would love to go backpacking or hiking someday. Just not have the time at the moment.

    • March 14, 2017 at 10:05 pm

      You should really give it a go Jen. Truly you have no idea what you are missing! I’m sure you will love it.

  • March 14, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    These are some great tips. I have not hiked ever with a backpack because I never had the confidence. I guess I can give it a try with your tips

  • March 14, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    Hiking is really an amazing way to connect with nature while keeping fit. I always seem to run out of water whenever I go hiking.

  • March 14, 2017 at 8:26 am

    Hiking is a lot of fun but you’re right it takes some preparation. You have some great tips posted.


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