How to Plan a Backpacking Trip: Steps to Follow

It is daunting, time-consuming to plan a backpacking trip, and an overwhelming task. First, there are many questions to answer that can help for a successful trip:

  • Where should I go or what is the best destination?
  • How far should I hike, or do I need to get a permit?
  • What tools or equipment do I want or need?
  • What type of food should I bring and the quantity?
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However, for many backpackers out there, backpacking hike planning the journey is almost as exciting as the hike itself. This article is packed with useful resources for both newbies and seasoned hikers. It will make organizing a backpacking trip simple and fun.

Plan a Back Pack Trip Guide

First is to Choose the Destination You Want to Go

How to choose the place to go to? Knowing where you want to go is the first thing to consider i you devise a backpacking trip. The destination is restricted by factors such as the size and the ability of the team and the complexity of the routes you have in mind.

• Get to Know the Member. Make sure you check or get to know your companion to find out what type of backpacking you can do.

Choose Trail/Trails. You won’t start your adventure when you get into the car and look for a trail along the road. While there is nothing wrong with a bit of spontaneity, it could be hard to get the perfect trail for hiking. Instead, check online prior to hitting the trail/trails. Online full of superb hiking websites to get and find useful information that enables you to look for the best trails near you. North America is the ideal destination to spend your backpacking.

• Member Size. National parks and some state limit member numbers. A bigger crowd makes a broader array of experience levels and physical abilities. Big groups often need someone to take on more of a leadership role. Find out the leader or the head of the team beforehand can avoid problems afterward.

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Hiker in Caucasus mountains

• Physical Ability. A team moves as fast as its slowest member. Always ensure the day hike is ideal for all members. If you have a particular day hike in mind, always ensure all members are physically fit to join the day hikes.

• Experience Level. Check if everyone in the team has the needed experience? Do you have at least two or three-person groups with the skills required to lead and supervise the team efficiently? Unexpected things take place on the trails, so be conservative even when you go on hikes with inexperienced and inexpert people.

• Dynamics and Logistics. Is there a particular trip leader, or are tasks being shared? It is vital to check all these things out ahead of time, not at the last minute- and indeed not while people are exhausted or tired, sore and hungry after many miles on the track. You can find or get this information online.

• Activities. What talents or abilities will each member need to have to do the trip’s jobs? Plan a specific time for educating new skills. Placing a person in a situation, which is outside of his or her capabilities can be risky and will affect the whole team.

Plan a Backpacking Trip. How to Estimate Journey Time and Route Difficulty

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Man holding a map with backpack, camera and a smart phone in a train station

To plan backpacking trip,t make sure to consider trek time and way difficulty. What is the best time of year to do backpacking? After having a sound idea of your team’s capability, your next step is to sort out the possible routes by complexity and time of year to look for a good match. Sadly, there is not a commonly utilized rating system for hike complicatedness. Mileage alone is not able to tell you how challenging a course is or how long it will take. Below are the factors to keep in mind as it will assist you in estimating the travel time and trail difficulty:

Daily and Total Mileage

• Changes in elevation and steepness of those changes

• The condition of the trail (smooth, rocky, etc..)

• The altitude of the trip

• Know the weight every member needs to carry.

• Here is a useful formula to help you estimate voyage times:

• Standard hiking speed on flat ground is ~2 miles per hour (1-3 miles per hour).

• Add one hour of total hiking time for every 1,000ft of gained elevation.

• Plan for approximately five to fifteen minutes of rest for each hour of trial.

Plan A Backpacking Trip: How to Plan the Route

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Efficiently organizing a route takes practice and is a vital part of the process. Usually, start with well-traveled and popular trail sites and places, which have available information. Tips to keep in mind when you plan a backpacking trip:

Research the Place or Location

A vital part of planning your backpacking trip is researching the place where you wish to go:

• Look for maps/map and guidebooks for way or trail information, trip reports may or might reach out to local experts or local forest rangers.

• What permits do you need to obtain prior to heading over?

• Check the trail of the location?

• Are there safety hazards you may or might come across?

• Where is camping permitted and not permitted?

• Check if fires permitted?

• Is there a good source of water?

• Are they any exceptional Leave No Trace rules for the location?

• Search for average highs and lows for the location and the number of hours of daylight you will need because this may or might limit your trekking or hiking hours.

Tour Logistics

You also need to consider the logistics of getting to and from your journey. Know the starting and ending points?  Is the route a loop, or you have to ride a car or sort out for a pick-up? Knowing these things beforehand can save you pressure and headache while you plan a backpacking journey.

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See to it you have a guidebook with you. Guidebooks play a vital role when you plan a backpacking journey. A lot of guidebooks available have particular trips pre-planned with all essential details listed, which include mileage, places to camp, elevation changes, hazards, things to see, and a whole lot more. You need to be aware that the conditions could have changed since the guidebook was printed, so it is always to see to it to ask local experts or research online.

Choosing Campsites

A lot of trips must be planned from campsite to campsite. It is vital to ensure you have somewhere to sleep every night that is comfortable, safe, and legal. You might consider these things for a good campsite:

Water Availability

Is there treatable or drinkable water nearby? Is it a good source year-round to?

LNT or Leave No Trace Camping

Leave No Trace Camping is a very essential thing to consider:

Campsite Size. Ensure the location is wide enough for the companions to cook, wash, and sleep. In the bear region, it is best to have these sites spread out.

• Location of the Campsite. If you do not know precisely where you will be camping, begin searching for a location beforehand. Err on the side of stopping earlier at a good location instead of continuing on and risking not finding one later in the day.

• Restricted or Private Land. As much as possible, it is good to avoid camping on a restricted or private site unless it is an emergency. In the event of an urgent situation or injury, most rangers and landowners will be understanding and helpful if you ask. Even then, know that you can be breaking the regulation and be fined or arrested.

Control Plan

When planning a backpacking journey, it is vital to estimate beforehand how long you expect the entire activity to take. You need to look at the anticipated travel period, breaking down and installing camp, meal times, breaks, etc. Add up all of the times for these activities to work out what time you must wake up in the morning, how much wiggle room you have, and perhaps if you want to cut specific activities or lessen mileage.

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Expect the Unexpected

You need to be flexible. It is an essential part of planning your backpacking trip. An unexpected trail, bad weather conditions, injury, and equipment failure are only some of the things, which can force you to revise your plan. Here are some ways to become flexible:

Vary the distance you are hiking daily. By having shorter days planned, you can catch up on mileage or take a rest. On a longer trip, plan whole days where you are not moving.

How to Pack

For many backpackers out there, packing is one of the essential parts of backpacking and must be given enough time and consideration. Packing is a breakdown into three categories; this includes water, food, and equipment.


How much water you bring at any given time will depend on how often you can refill. Know possible sources of water beforehand and plan the journey accordingly. According to expert backpackers, have each member of the member bring at least one container for water. If your water bladder is leaking, then it can ruin the trip.


Choose delicious and healthy foods. Bringing too much food, but not a lot, food is a hard balance. Some think of backcountry cooking as a form of art, while others opt to simple minimalist meals. Look for the balance you opt to keep yourself and your member healthy, happy, as well as well-fed. Below are some of the tips and guidelines, plus some classic backpacking food ideas.

According to medical experts, try to take your calories per day in these proportions:

• 50 to 70 percent carbohydrates

• 20 to 30 percent of fats

• 20 to 30 percent protein.

Plan meals as a team and ensure to cover choices, dietary restrictions, meal timing, and a whole lot more. Fresh food like veggies, meat, fruit, and cheese can keep for a couple of days, particularly in cooler weather. Even if heavy, these foods are simple to consume, nutritious and a welcome luxury when out on the trails.

Even if fresh is nutritious, it is highly recommended to choose dehydrated food as it is easy and lightweight but often costly. Dehydrating your own food is time-consuming; however, it can be exciting, fun, and saves you a considerable amount of money. Avoid individually pack items and rather purchase and pack in bulk.

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Don’t forget to bring spices like pepper and salt are great, but more variety can take cooking to a higher level.

According to professional backpackers, more mishaps take place around 11 in the morning to 3 in the afternoon as people are often dehydrated and have low blood sugar—plan snack times between meals to keep the team safe and happy.

Food Suggestions

Here are some of the food suggestions you can make while on a journey. These are easy to prepare aside from being healthy and nutritious:


• Dehydrated hash browns, scrambled eggs, bacon bits, and veggies ( you can add salsa, cheese, and tortillas

• Granola together with powdered milk

• Instant oatmeal

• Muffins and other baked goods

• Dried fruit leather and energy bars

• Tea, hot chocolate, and coffee


• Beef jerky

• Canned chicken or fish

• Summer sausage

• Powdered hummus

• Dry salami

• Hard cheeses

• Cookies, chocolate, or candy bars

• Bagels, pita bread, or crackers

• Vegetables, including carrots, peppers, etc.

• Dried fruit


• Hard candy

• Jerky

• Energy bars

• Dried fruits

• Trail mix like nuts, sunflower seeds, coconut, dried fruit, chocolate, pretzels, dried green peas, sesame sticks, etc. Make your own!)

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• Pasta: Pasta like spaghetti, dehydrated sauce, with veggies and meat

• Burritos: Veggies, dehydrated beans, cheese, canned chicken, salsa, and tortillas.

• Pita Pizzas: This includes pitas, dehydrated sauce, veggies, cheese, and pepperoni.

• Curry: Quinoa or rice, tofu, veggies, with curry powder


• Candy bars

• Freeze-fried ice cream

• Instant pudding

• Brownies

• Gummy candies

• Chocolate cheesecake

Equipment or Gear

Backpacking requires extensive tools and gear, or very little. It depends on your demands. In this part, we will review the questions you have to ask yourself regarding the equipment or tools you must bring. Next is the essential gear, which everyone must bring every time they go to the wilderness. These are checklists you can utilize to ensure you do not forget anything.

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Special Considerations

You need to ask yourself and the other members these questions while choosing what to bring during the journey:

• How long are the journey and the number of people is going?

• Are they bringing their own gear, renting or borrowing gear?

• Are people bringing their own gear, borrowing gear, or renting a gear?

• What equipment can be shared like cooking gear, tents gear, etc., and who will bring it?

• What is the expected weather, altitude as well as temperature?

• What are the activities involved in the journey, and what special tool is required?

Personal Equipment/Gear

These are things that each member of the group will need and perhaps will want to bring in their own backpack.

Clothing. How much and what you will carry will largely rely on the activities, weather, as well as how long the hiking will be. Bring layers for a comfortable feel. This allows you to adjust to different activities and temperatures. Ready to get stinky, and bring much less than you believe you need.

Storage. Carrying the right size of the pack is a vital part of a memorable and successful journey.

Sleeping. Sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and perhaps a pillow.

Miscellaneous. This takes account of toiletries, water bottles, headlamp, eating utensils, and many others.

Group Equipment

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These are things, which not everyone needs to bring, and could be distributed amongst group members.

Shelter. What shelter you carry will depend on how many you are in the group, and the anticipated weather conditions.

Cooking. This includes pans and pots, stove, plates or bowls, cups, and utensils.

Hygiene. This includes water purification, soap, and bathroom kit.

First Aid. This is a very important thing you need to bring as an accident can happen anytime without sign or warning. 

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In spite of where you are heading over or for how long if you plan a backpacking journey, ensure to bring one of the essentials mentioned below:

Navigation includes a compass and map/maps. A map is very important to avoid messing up in a place. A map is also your guide to reach the place fast.

First-aid supplies

Fire source like lighter and matches

Nutrition- emergency food

Repair kit and tools

Emergency shelter

Hydration water as well as a purification method

Equipment Checklist

Below is a general checklist made for a multi-day three-season backpacking trip or journey ( so meaning daytime temp of 50 degrees to 70 degrees Fahrenheit and nighttime temps of 30 degrees to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. A lot of people would not need to bring the whole thing on the list mentioned. However, some trips may need additional tools.

Clothing: For Comfortable Feel

• Head: Great idea to use for head clothing includes a warm hat, sun hat, or a baseball cap. Don’t forget to use sunglasses too.

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• Upper Body: Upper garments to use include t-shirts. You can use cotton for great comfort or use synthetic as it is great for cold weather. Long sleeve synthetic shirt, fleece/wool jacket or sweater, down/ synthetic-filled jacket, windproof layer similar to a rain jacket, waterproof rain jacket, warm gloves, as well as buff are also geared upper-body garments.

Lower Body

• Lower Body. Garments like underwear, synthetic, and wool long underwear is advisable. Bring one to two pairs of shorts, waterproof rain pants, and one to two pairs of long pants for the safe trail. This could be either synthetic and not denim or cotton.

• Feet. It is a good idea to get hiking boots, camp shoes, make sure it is lightweight. You can also bring 2 to 3 pair of synthetic liner socks and 2 to 3 pair of wool or synthetic socks and gaiters.

Travel Gear

• Gear takes into account backpack, trekking poles, pack rain cover, or garbage bag.

Personal Sleep System

• This takes account of the sleeping bag, sleeping pad, bivy sack, liner for the sleeping bag,


• This takes account of a toothbrush, toothpaste, lip balm, sunscreen, insect repellent, biodegradable soap, personal medications, contact lenses and solutions, and glasses.

Eating and Drinking

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• Make sure to include 2 to 4 one-liter water bottles non bladder style, bowl or plate, spoon and fork, and a cup of hot drinks. You need to consider the food you want to eat per day.


• To plan backpack trips, make sure to consider the miscellaneous. This takes account of headlamp and flashlight, small towel, bandanna, camera, small notebook, large garbage bag, multi-tool or knife, pen, guidebook, whistle, camp chair, group equipment, shelter.


• Stove one for every four to five people, fuel source, pots and pans, waterproof matched or lighter, potholder or gripper, mixing spoon, spatula, biodegradable soap, brush or sponge, hygiene, Ziploc bags, Water purification method, chlorine bleach (backup water purification and dish cleaning, trowel, hand sanitizer, plastic bags for toilet paper, and other garages to pack out.


• It is a good idea to bring a compass, GPS, and maps.


• For safety backpacking trips, ensure to bring a first aid kit, satellite phone or other technology, bear canister, and rope for bear hang.


• Stove repair parts, sleeping pad repair kit, 30 ft. of fishing line, duct tape, assorted safety pins, 100 ft. of paracord are vital for a backpacking trip.

Planning Backpacking Trips: Conclusion

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As mentioned, a backpack trip planning can be a time-consuming and intimidating outdoor activity, in part because of the perceived difficulty and complexity of planning a hike. On the other hand, if you plan a backpacking trip beforehand with our guide, you are able to make sure you have a safe and fun journey. If everything is in the right place, then you will have a memorable and successful trip. The trail is uneven and has at least some elevation gain. An elevation gain must not be ignored for a safe hiking, so ensure to follow these steps.

Happy Trail/Hiking!

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