How to Get Ready for an 900-mile Backpacking Trip

On Sunday I’m heading out to hike an 900-mile route in the Great Basin of Nevada. And in this email I want to share with you the exact strategies I used to help me prepare my mind and body.

This route traverses 26 mountain ranges and 19 basins. It travels through barren, harsh, remote, and beautiful landscapes. Water sources are unreliable and resupply points are sparse.

After many long distance hikes, here’s my current process that allows me to prepare for soul-expanding adventures so that I can embark on my journey with confidence, resilience, and excitement — and I know it will help you do the same.

*I research the route and the expected conditions*

Will I need this extra shirt? Do I need down pants? How much water carrying capacity do I need? Perhaps, like me, these are the types of things you ask yourself before a hike.

The answer to each of these questions lies in researching your route so that you know what to expect and you don’t have to guess. When you research the expected conditions, like climate, terrain, sun exposure, wildlife, weather patterns, and water availability, you know how to choose your gear and uplevel your skills so that you can head out with so much more confidence.

*I assess the potential route risks and create a safety plan*

A key component of backcountry travel is assessing and mitigating risk. Risks can fall into many categories including weather, injury, navigation, wildlife, human interactions, water, snow, and solo hiking. Mitigation strategies include gear selection, skill acquisition, practice, and education. I mentally rehearse worst case scenarios and create back-up plans. Additionally, I train my mind to remain flexible and adaptable in the field.

*I optimize my physical health with proper training and a diet that creates resilience*

Creating optimal physical health before a trip is multifaceted. It involves creating a physical training plan that creates cardiovascular fitness, mobility, strength, and includes training specificity. Building up slowly is essential to a smooth transition to full time exercise and to avoid injuries.  

Beyond physical training, I get my body as healthy and resilient as possible through a nourishing diet, optimizing gut health, and prioritizing sleep and stress management. These practices reduce overall inflammation in the body, build up nutrient stores, and ensure I’m going into my adventure strong.

A long hike is depleting for the body and going in with a full battery improves the likelihood that I’ll stay healthy and finish my hike successfully. It also allows me to have better energy and stay more present while I’m out there.

While it’s possible to come off the couch and start hiking big miles, I’ve been on trips where hiking partners have incurred injury and had to get off trail due to lack of training and overall health. It’s always unfortunate to see someone spend months planning an adventure just to go home after a week.

*I cultivate a mindful state of resilience and anticipate success*

And finally, with all of this in place, I decide that I am capable and resilient. Like anyone else, I have fears and doubts that come up when I’m planning the next big trip.

When that happens, I reflect on the preparations I’ve undergone, reflect on the many times I’ve been rewarded for doing things that felt scary, and I trust in my ability to figure it out (whatever “it” may be in the moment).

>>This is my one precious life and I want to live it fully.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing posts on what’s in my backpack for this trip, a run-down of my food bag, as well as other strategies I’m implementing to keep me healthy and happy on my hike.

To me, the gear, the food, the health, the skills are all a means to helping me get outside where I remember who I am and stay present once I’m out there.  

Are you ready to be fully prepared for your next trip?

The following online courses were created from my experience and process of preparing for backpacking trips. There’s a course for physical preparation (Adventure Ready), navigation, backcountry safety, and backpacker nutrition. I invite you to check them out if you’d like guided support in any of these areas.

Here’s a bit more about each and who it’s for:

Want to embark on your next backcountry trip fully prepared physically, with your health battery topped off?

Our flagship course, Adventure Ready, is your guide to complete physical preparation for optimal strength, energy, and resilience on your next adventure. Learn to master your mindset, optimize your gut health, dial in your diet, and reduce overall inflammation so that you have better energy, faster recovery, and improved immunity when you hit the trail. Stay present to your experience and enjoy nature without the distraction of aches and pains.

Want to know what type of foods (and how much) to pack for optimal energy and endurance on your next trip?

The Performance Nutrition and Meal Planning for Backpackers Course teaches you how to use nutrition to lighten your pack and hike more miles with improved energy and faster recovery times. It guides you step by step through how to determine your calorie needs, your ideal macronutrient ratios for backpacking, choosing a resupply strategy, and how to translate that into backpacking meals and a meal plan for the trail.

Want to feel at home in the backcountry?

When you have a methodical process for assessing and mitigating backcountry risk, walking onto the trail is as comfortable as walking into your living room. The Backpacker Academy Stay Safe in the Backcountry Course allows you to embark on your next adventure with a complete backcountry preparation plan, knowing that you’ve thoroughly evaluated and prepared for the risks unique to your route.

Want to become a better backcountry navigator?

Imagine embarking on your next adventure with a deeper understanding of the various tools for backcountry navigation and the knowledge of how to use them. The Backpacker Academy How to Become a Better Navigator Course teaches you how to use observation, logic, and topography to help yourself stay found.

What backcountry adventures await you this summer?

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