Planning your first overnight hike

Your first overnight hike can seem like a lot to figure out, but with a little bit of research and preparation you’ll be setting up camp like a pro in no time. Once you get the basics figured out camping on the trail will open up a world of trekking possibilities that you may not have realized existed. Camping can be a great way to experience nature and enhance your hiking experience but there can be consequences for inadequate preparation. Luckily this article is packed full of tips to help you avoid all of the mistakes that i faced in the beginning.

Figure your shelter out

There are several different methods people use for sleeping on the trail. Depending on on where you’re hiking there may be pre made shelter available. I know when hiking the Appalachian trail there are many lean-to’s along the way for trekkers to use on there travels. These are great and will for sure keep you dry in the event of rain but i don’t like to use them as my first option. The reason for this is that there are many other hikers on the trail and in my experience those lean to’s get claimed by other hikers pretty quick. for this reason i always pack my own tent or hammock so that i am guaranteed my own shelter if need be. The choice between whether to use a tent or hammock when hiking is a matter of personal preference. I make my case for why i think hammocks are the best camping option in my post 5 Essential tips for hammock camping but both options are perfectly fine. Whichever option you choose just make sure you have also planned for the possibility of rain when packing your shelter.

Figure out your food and water

Having the nourishment that you need is one of the most important components of multi day hikes. Don’t under estimate the strain that a day of trekking can put on your body. By the time your setting up camp your body is going to be expecting some food and water to make up for a day of hard work. In terms of water your cant really go wrong with a Camelback. If that’s too much to carry and you will have access to water on your hike there are plenty of filtration options to purify stream water into perfectly good drinking water. When it comes to eating I personally like to stick with foods that are going to give me the energy I need to wake up the next day and hit the trail strong. Granola bars and beef jerky are 2 fan favorites among campers. These both provide quick energy and do not require any sort of cooking. If you have a backpacking stove (which i cannot recommend enough See my post 5 Reasons you need a backpacking stovethen dehydrated meals are my favorite option. Dehydrated meals give you the luxury and nourishment of a home cooked meal whenever you want. There are a million possible options for food just make sure that you have given your food selection ample thought and remember you’re going to be using more energy than usual when your hiking for several days straight. (click link below to check out backpacking stoves on Amazon)

Know where your sleeping

This one may seem basic but i know when i first started i personally under estimated how difficult it could be to find a good area to set up camp (particularly if your using a tent). For this reason i recommend you have some idea of where on the trail your sleeping. Get a map of the trail look at how you want to break your hike up and decide where along the way you’re going to set up camp. This to me is actually part of the beauty of overnight hiking. You have the freedom to wake up wherever you want along the trail and be hiking within 20 minutes of waking up (just be sure not to disturb the area you set up camp in).

Research your trail

This is something i recommend for any hike but it is particularly important spend a little bit of time on your research when planning anything over night. You want to make sure that you don’t find yourself on a trail that is above your skill level. Hiking is definitely about pushing yourself and striving to get better but its also about having a good time and and taking some time to reflect on things. When choosing the best overnight trail for you be sure to look into the skill level, the length of the trail, obstacles that the trail may have, etc. This information is typically readily available on google. I personally always go into forums and read other people’s experiences on the trails to determine whether or not that particular hike is right for me.

Pack enough clothes

If you are familiar with my posts you know over packing is probably my biggest concern when it comes to hiking. You don’t want to be too heavy and end up tiring yourself out 2 hours in. If there was ever anything i would suggest to be a little over prepared for it would be clothing. Nature can be unpredictable. Temperature can change rapidly especially when you start dealing with elevation change. Rain can come out of nowhere and the clothes on your back can unexpectedly get soaked. Because rain can be so unpredictable a good rule of thumb is to never pack cotton clothes. Cotton and hiking have a dysfunctional relationship and should interact almost never. Additonally I always make sure to have extra clothing, socks and underwear. This has been a life saver countless times on my travels and i’m sure that once you go on enough hikes you come to the same realization.

Hiking isn’t an exact science. As you continue to get deeper into it you’ll find new variables that you begin to account for when planning your trips. Like anything in life the more time and practice you put into it the better you’ll get at it and the more rewarding it will become. In addition to this post please ensure you do your research and make sure you have accounted for all the essentials. Your first overnight hike can be a little scary to think about but if your reading this it sounds like your on the right track for a successful trip. Good luck on your journey and most importantly have fun with, That’s really what it’s all about. Thanks for taking the time to read this. If you found this interesting or helpful make sure to subscribe, i post articles like this twice per week to try to help spread the hiking knowledge for anyone out there looking to get more into it.

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