How to Plan a Backpacking Trip

The summer solstice is just a few weeks away! There’s so much I love about this time of year: the warmth, hiking in a skirt again, and feeling the sun on my skin. The days feel endless, the plants and trees are greening up and budding out, and most of the snow has finally melted from the high country, opening it up for alpine foot travel. I can’t help but get excited by the possibilities, and I know, like every year, that there won’t be enough time for all the places I wish to explore. 

I manage this conundrum by creating a list of everything that strikes my fancy. Then I estimate how long the hike will take (if it’s a multi-day, -week, or -month event) and when the ideal time to hike it would be. I see what fits into my calendar and go from there. 

This is all part of my trip planning process, which involves:

  • Defining the trip parameters – Where? When? With whom?
  • Researching the likely conditions -Temps, precip, weather patterns.
  • Creating an itinerary – Dates, expected daily mileage, potential campsites.
  • Selecting gear – What do I need for the expected conditions?
  • Planning food and resupply strategy – Plan, purchase, and packaging food.
  • Creating a safety plan – What risks will I encounter and how will I mitigate them?
  • Preparing physically and mentally – Training for the rigors of the trail.
  • Doing the final check – Use the checklist below!

Download a free trip planning checklist

This full process is outlined in Chapter 1 of Adventure Ready: A Hiker’s Guide to Planning, Training, and Resiliency.

Related Resource

Watch this video on my condensed planning template and process to get out on quick weekend adventures feeling fully prepared.

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