Advice for starting out in backpacking. - The HuntingPA.com Outdoor Community
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-11-2011, 01:25 AM Thread Starter
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Advice for starting out in backpacking.

I have been interested in backpacking for about a year now and I would like to make an attempt this year. I was wondering if anyone on here could lend some advice on how to start with what type of gear, trails, etc. Any bit of information would help.

Thanks!
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-12-2011, 06:07 PM
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Re: Advice for starting out in backpacking.

I would go to the local library and get a few books on backpacking and look through them and read the chapters that might be of help to you.

Next, talk to the members of the local trail club, they can help you with equipment choices and someone may lend you a pack to get started.

Then pick a trail in your area that is about 10 miles round trip, pack your day pack and take a hike, remember to wear blaze orange hat because it is hunting season. After that, everything will work itself out over time.
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-13-2011, 01:57 AM
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Re: Advice for starting out in backpacking.

Welcome to HPA!

Absolutely a great sport to enjoy. It is a huge subject, with MANY books written about it, videos too, and entire forums. I've been backpacking about 40 years and actually present a seminar on wilderness backpacking in Alaska. I'd recommend going to Barnes and Noble and browse a few books. I looked up Westmoreland Co and it doesn't look too far from Pittsburgh. There is an REI store in Pitt. The employees there will have a wealth of knowledge, they are very accomodating(required), you probably could spend a couple hours there and learn a lot.

Being a hunter I combine hunting and backpacking, usually in Alaska. But a lot of trips were also just backpacking. As with any recreational sport the prices on everything can range from expensive to insanely expensive, with backpacking it is dependent on the lack of weight of an item. Almost always I go solo and for 7-10 days my pack as it is on my back weighs about 75 pounds. Of course shorter trips reduce food weight and multiple people can share tent, stove, fuel and some other common items. On short solo trips you would need to be physically prepared for carrying at least 50lb.

I guess major purchases would be something like this, in the beginning for a warm weather overnight trip you could make do with less technical equipment, maybe whatever you have now, but eventually you'll want all of the items below plus many more minor items like cookware, lighting, emergency items, etc:
tent $100-$400
stove $50-$100
water filter $10-$125
boots $100-$250
sleeping bag $75-$300
sleeping pad $20-$75
lightweight fast drying synthetic shirt/pants $60-$150/set
gore-tex or similar jacket $75-$250
rain pants $60-$125
backpack $100-$500

I have a 4 column 3 page master checklist that includes everything I've ever taken on any hunting/backpacking trip in the last 30 years. For each trip I open it up and start deleting everything I will not take, what is left is what I take. It's so easy anymore and it's 100% reliable. I just add new items as I buy them.

Just FYI, I have a used Sierra Designs Polaris tent I have no use for anymore and would sell. You can google it and you will find it is/was a highly regarded tent. If interested please pm me. I probably could use an inventory reduction on a lot of things.

This is a few backpack vids with the tent. First 2 are from a trip with my daughter about 250 miles north of the arctic circle in the Brooks Range. This trip was about 10 days, my pack was about 80lb and I think hers was about 35-40.
http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v6...nnontundra.mp4

http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v6...rradesigns.mp4

This one is mostly about the caribou handling but towards the end there is a little of my stove and the Sierra Designs tent, you can also see my backpack that can either be used with a bag or without as a freight hauler:
http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v6...boupackout.mp4

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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-15-2011, 08:10 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Advice for starting out in backpacking.

Thank you tundragriz and nessmuk, your insight and information was very helpful! Hopefully soon I will be able to get out there and experience it first hand.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-27-2011, 12:50 PM
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Re: Advice for starting out in backpacking.

Make sure you go to a store that specializes in this stuff. Get good boots and break them in before you go. Spend more on your pack and your tent, you do get what you pay for.

I used to pack long weekends with a couple.

They had it down to about 45 lbs between them.

Another couple had a pack for their Lab who carried it's own food 'N stuff along w/ a few pounds of it's owners gear. Slowed the dog down so it stayed right near it's owner!

Great way to really see the outdoors.

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3D - There are STILL a few deer left! You need to pry them out of the developments!
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 10-31-2011, 01:13 AM
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Re: Advice for starting out in backpacking.

"Mountaineering, Freedom of the hills" is as close as you can get to a bible on this.

Try to get gear from a place with an unlimited return policy - Backcountry.com, ems.com, sierratradingpost.com - etc. If you don't like it, send it back.

And finally, lite is right! Forget about packing the kitchen sink, the better quality lightweight equipment you may pay for, but you extract the cost in enjoyment (a 20lb pack vs a 37lb pack) makes a ton of difference over the course of a bunch of miles.

And finally, if you don't have a partner / aren't into solo hiking, check out meetup.com - lots of good groups there I have seen. Best of luck to you!
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-02-2011, 01:06 AM
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Re: Advice for starting out in backpacking.

Years ago a guy named Colin Fletcher published several volumes of a book titled "The Complete Walker". I thought it was a good reference text. Sure they are still available somewhere.

You may have a great resource near by if there is an active Boy Scout Troop that offers the Backpacking Merit Badge. Believe they would answer any questions.
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 11-12-2011, 11:53 PM
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Re: Advice for starting out in backpacking.

Corny as it was, the Boyscout Handbook is also a source of good info.

4th Generation @ Kamp.

3D - There are STILL a few deer left! You need to pry them out of the developments!
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-07-2011, 12:32 PM
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Re: Advice for starting out in backpacking.

Lots of good advice for gear on here already . Pennsylvania has some great trails to wander on . Loop trails even have shortcuts to take if you don't have the time to finish a trail entirely. Don't bite off more than you can chew ,though, as it can easily happen to beginners . Hiking with a pack is WAY slower than putting on miles without one. . I have found that covering ground slowly is best to enjoy scenery , as this is the reason for backpacking in the first place . Stop often to rest and hydrate . It is very easy to become dehydrated even in winter . Those headaches can ruin a trip . Set up camp for the night plenty early enough so you can gather firewood and prepare a good meal during daylight .You will be well rested and able to feed the campfire without venturing into the darkness . Have a great time and be safe !!

Enjoy each day afield as if it were your last.....take the time to take it all in !
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-22-2011, 08:38 AM
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Re: Advice for starting out in backpacking.

Get on REI.com and look at the calendar of events for the two stores in the Pittsburgh area. They hold free classes from time to time on backpacking for beginners.

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