By HikeAz and Moovyoaz
Tips for those new to backpacking. Advise on what equipment to buy, food to bring, and more. By the ever luvin' Kurt and Randy.
Blisters are the product of friction. When your skin rubs against another surface, a tear occurs within the upper layers of skin, creating a space between the two layers while leaving the outer surface layer intact. Fluid seeps into that space, forming the tender bubble we know as a blister.
Drink lots of water before starting a hike and when refilling water bottles. Its easier to carry the water in your belly than on your back.
Plastic soda or water bottles make great inexpensive water bottles. A 2-liter bottle fits nicely into the side pocket of most backpacks.
Backpacking meals can be bought inexpensively in grocery stores. Look for just add water or milk meals with very short cooking times. Kraft, Knorr, Lipton's and other manufactures offer a wide choice of tasty rice, pasta, and potato dishes. Chicken, Tuna & Salmon in foils pouches added to the aforementioned can add protein. Freeze-dried meals bought at camping stores, while they have their place, are often very expensive.
If you like to cook over an open fire, there is nothing like a small rubber hose to encourage reluctant wood, or coax a small ember to life. Start with a 3" piece of 3/8" aluminum or copper tubing. Slip an 18" piece of rubber tubing over the metal and you are ready for action. No more bending over with your face next to the fire trying to blow at just the right spot. One caution! Don't breathe in through the hose.
If your crackers usually get crunched long before they meet the cheddar, or your cookies are crumbed on the first day, try storing them in a Pringle's potato chip container, or a tennisball or racquetball "can". Either weighs only a few ounces when empty, and you can use it to pack out your trash once the crackers have been eaten.
On a long downhill trek, your toenails hit and are constantly being "lifted" by the front of the boot. You will lose a toenail, and it's not pretty. So, clip them back as far as you can.
Try the food you buy before you take it backpacking. The worst time to find out you don't like something is when you're tired and hungry. Most tired and hungry backpackers prefer quick, easy to prepare meals. Bring special treats (chocolate, etc.) to reward yourself.
Murphy's Law of the Inconvenient Migration of Stuff means that dense items (especially waterbottles, hydration systems, large cameras, and fuel) tend to gravitate to the bottom of your pack, especially when the pack is not full and tightly packed.
Try and choose backpacking items that serve a dual purpose... ie. mattress pad/chair, camelback bladder/pillow.
Lighten the BIG three: tent, sleeping bag, and backpack. These three items usually rank in the top three heaviest items one carries into the backcountry. Cutting down on these items can save pounds!
Lighten your load by teaming up with fellow backpackers to share gear like stoves, water filters, tents, cooking gear, and food. Choose your partner carefully so your won't become separated. If one person carries the stove, the other should carry some food that doesn't require cooking, etc.
Always carry a phone card or enough change to make an emergency phone call. Better yet.. a cell phone!
The 10 Essentials should always be carried, even on day hikes: map, compass, flashlight / headlamp, extra food, extra clothes, sunglasses, first-aid kit, pocket knife, waterproof matches, firestarter, water / filter/ bottles, whistle, insect repellent or clothing, and sunscreen.