Nine times out of ten before someone has considered what type of kit they are going to take they have an idea of where they would like to go. We have all been there, sat in front of a computer screen or sat behind a till fantasizing about ditching the 9 to 5 and go explore what’s unknown to you, this is the starting point for everyone who has even thought about backpacking. So you head to your nearest bookstore, take a look at their travel section, find the books that you deem interesting or useful, then whip out your phone and buy them on Amazon for half the price.
You start doing your research, you commit to an area, place or trail and also you have a rough idea of when you want to explore this new path. It’s at this point when you start thinking about your kit and it then dawns on you the fantasy that you’re chasing might be out of reach so it’s back to the drawing board or you give up altogether. Now does that scenario sound familiar? It should do because everyone has done it.
So how do you combat this? Especially if this is the first time you’re thinking about going on an adventure? Well firstly let’s take a look at the “where” scenario, Say you got the idea of visiting Canada...now Canada is a rather big place! Based on the type of hiking you normally undertake this should deem the type of exploring you really should do. Say for instance you have never step foot on a hiking trail before, your first Candian backpacking adventure should not be walking from east to west that would probably kill you.
So again using the idea of Canada find a place or places that are close by with trails that will suit what you are used to walking, use that as a foundation then build up from it. For example, the first time I went to Canada I was with my partner, at the time she wasn’t massively into hiking so I choose Vancouver as the perfect destination, they have amazing trails in close proximity, the city life is awesome and the mecca that is Whistler is only an hour or so away! And using that as a foundation for the both of us not only did it get my partner into hiking but we also got to experience new things that were within our reach of budget, time and fitness level.
If you start thinking like this then you won’t be put off when an adventure you want to take is too expensive or the time frame doesn’t work with you, you can pick it apart and create something that is more realistic for you and doing this means you won’t feel defeated if fact you will feel more excited about what lays ahead because you have well and truly catered your own adventure. So yeah really think about where you want to go then break it down even more.
So you know where you want to go and you know it’s manageable now is the time to think about “when” you would like to go. You really need to do your research of the area or areas that you want to explore. Find blogs and forums from people that have done what you want to do, don’t just think to yourself… I like summertime so yeah I want to go on an adventure in the summer, doing this without proper research can be fatal, especially if you are visiting another country.
Check weather reports that go back several years, see if there have been any differences in weather patterns, just because it was sunny at the same time last year doesn’t mean it will be again, doing some weather research you might uncover that out of the five years you researched three of those years there were sporadic heavy downpours, that way you know you might need to pack some wet wear gear instead of shorts and tees. Depending on the time of year you want to backpack will determine how much room you have in your pack, if you want to go light then summer really is a win for you, if you want to go during the winter then expect to haul a 65-litre pack on your back, which depending how rainy it is where you are will also determine how heavy you pack will become.
Now you could go down the lightweight route for a winter backpack but this will cost serious money, great you can get all your winter kit in a 45-litre backpack but you can’t afford the bus ride out of town. Just like finding out where you want to go, try to figure out the foundations first. Look at the type of hiking you’ll be doing, now do the trails work best during dry or wet months? Are you confident navving at night time? Especially if it’s a place you’ve never been to before? You need to start with questions and give yourself realistic and truthful answers. Doing this will mean you will find your perfect place to backpack and also the perfect time to do it.
So yeah, in a nutshell, have a rough idea where you would like to go, think to yourself can you in fact do the type of trails? check out a rough time when you would like to do, then look at what kit you might need to take with you, then just keep going back and forth until the perfect backpacking adventure is planned out in front of you.