Backpacking Tips for a Newbie

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We are completely new at backpacking and hiking and camping! We are looking to start in the sport this season. Was looking for good book to buy regarding: 1) Hiking and Camping; 2) Navigation with GPS and Compas and how to use an altimeter to predict the weather changes. Also would the Smokey Mountain be too advanced for the beginner?

Answer:

Some advice about The Sokies, first backpacking and GPS

Newbie Backpacking Tips

Newbie Backpacking Tips

The Smokies can be a nice trip for beginning backpackers, if they choose a trail that is appropriate for their skill level. Also, don’t schedule yourself an unrealistic amount of miles to hike each day. Nothing takes the fun out of backpacking like knowing you have more miles to cover when you’re tired. Make sure you have the correct gear for the weather if you’re going early in the season.

If the Smokey trip is really your FIRST time out with your gear, you should consider a small (overnight) trip beforehand. This lets you get familiar with your gear, and gives you an idea of how you’ll handle a whole day with a full pack on your back.

I know nothing about GPS, but have backpacked eastern US wilderness areas for years without one. Most eastern US areas have trail guides available, and the trails are well marked (excluding official wilderness areas, where trails are usually not maintained). Get the guidebook and read all about the trail you picked, as well as adjacent trails. Get a map (even if it’s just a USGS topo map) and laminate it between two pieces of clear shelf paper. If you’re not on a well marked trail, keep this map and a compass handy and check it often! But really, for beginning backpackers you should keep to a well marked, well used trail.

If you find that backpacking isn’t all that you dreamed it could be (lots of folks find a whole day with 50 pounds on their back is too much) don’t give up camping. There are many, many places in the eastern National Forests where you can back country camp just a short distance from the nearest forest service road. Use the DeLorme atlas for that state, or get the official Forest Service map to help you find a nice spot.

Have fun! Spending quality time in the wilderness is a truly uplifting experience.

Photo by blueinfaccia.

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