5 mistakes I made as a beginner backpacker

I’ve been thinking about the upcoming backpacking season, my clients who are preparing for big hikes, and how I can best support them with their goals.

That got me thinking about some of the things I wish I’d known when I got started.

This primarily included investing too much time on things that weren’t actually that important and not enough time into other things which really do make a difference.

Here are those mistakes:

Focusing too much on getting the “perfect” gear

Having good, functional, relatively lightweight gear is important, but this topic can be SUCH a rabbit hole.  You can easily spend hours (days! months!) researching, comparing, and getting yourself all twisted into a knot over finding the “perfect” item when, in reality, getting something good enough will do.

I don’t advocate purchasing without doing some research, but go into it knowing your priorities (weight, cost, durability), compare a few items, purchase, and move on with your life.

The best way to know if something works for YOU is to try it out. You can always replace and upgrade as you continue on your backpacking journey.

Neglecting strength and mobility

On my first few thru hikes, I mostly focused on running and hiking to prepare myself physically. And those things are obviously helpful for cardio endurance.

Then before my CDT hike, I spent a winter doing body weight training and power yoga 2-4 mornings a week.

The result: I was honestly shocked at how much stronger and slower to fatigue I was on trail. In part, I think it’s what allowed me to hit the trail doing 20+ mile days without injury.

Waiting too long to start planning and preparing

The body, mind, gear, food, maps all take time to prepare. If you have plans to get out on a trip this year, don’t miss out because you procrastinate planning and preparing. Plus, there’s no better way to pass the winter than to start your planning and training now.

Not knowing my “why”

To stay motivated over the long haul, I find it’s valuable to have a clear sense of why I’m out there. If you know your why, when the going gets tough (and it will), you’ll find reserves of energy and perseverance you didn’t even know you had.

Failing to anticipate challenges

It’s easy to get caught up in how dreamy it’ll be when you’re out in the backcountry, free from obligations, drinking from streams, and taking cat naps in warm, sunny meadows.

But it’s important to keep in mind that you’ll likely encounter challenges as well. (That’s part of the appeal, right?!). Visualizing the physical and mental challenges you’ll encounter and how you’ll navigate them makes you more prepared to get through them if/when they occur.

If you feel like this is your year to go all in on your health and adventure goals, and you want a step by step plan to mentally and physically prepare for a big backpacking trip, check out our Adventure Ready course.

Read what past clients have said here.

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