Things to Consider Before You Go Backpacking

Things to Consider Before You Go Backpacking


Backpacking is Freedom

You have no worries, other than your own. You become part of a scenic landscape and survive in a primitive environment with few modern conveniences. Self-sufficient, yes,
but with this freedom comes an individual responsibility to care for the environment and to respect the rights of those you meet along the way and those who follow you.

Backpacking is not limited to supermen and superwomen. However, it does require physical stamina and a genuine liking for the isolation of remote country.

Overnight backpacking trips should be under- taken only by those who are accustomed to hiking mountain trails and are familiar with backpacking tech- niques.

Fishing and Hunting

Write in advance to the state Game and Fish Department for fishing and hunting rules and licenses.

Fishing and hunting are authorized under State regulations. Check with local Game

and Fish officials before entering areas to fish or hunt because regulations vary.

In every jurisdiction, target practice used to destroy animals, song birds, and other wildlife is held in contempt, and is usually illegal. Shooting live trees is also prohibited.


Regulations differ on taking pets into the backcountry, so check with the local agency office regarding re- strictions before you go. Remember: Dogs and cats are preda-
tors by nature and
will instinctively chase forest birds and animals. Horses and dogs

don’t mix, so physical restraint of the dog is necessary. Also, bears and dogs do not mix.

You know your pet but other persons do not. Many areas have leash restrictions, especially on or with specific distances, (usually 200 feet) of well-traveled trails or heavily used areas. Show respect for other persons and wildlife by keeping your pet under physi- cal restraint, or better yet, you might consider leaving your pet at home.

Leave No Trace

For thousands of years our wild lands have existed in complex eco- logical relationships. These relationships can be easily upset or even destroyed. Once damaged, some plants and soils may not recover in our life- time. Today, nature is

Special RegulationS


Permits are required in some areas of the backcountry. Permits can be obtained from local offices of the land managing agency. The permit must be obtained in advance and must be in your possession during your visit.

Group Size

In many backcountry areas the maximum number of people in a group is restricted. Large groups are destructive. Check to determine allowable group size.

Trail Courtesy

When hiking, it’s quite possible you may encounter trail riders along with pack stock. Since stock is easily spooked from unseen sources, it is best to make your presence known. When stock approach, step off on the lower side of the trail while the stock passes. Be courteous in sharing the trail with others.

struggling in many backcountry areas to cope with results of unac- ceptable backpacking, overnight camping techniques, and heavy use.

Unappreciative and uninformed backpackers can cause severe damage to the backcountry. In places, firewood is scarce or non- existent, and fire blackened rocks from unnecessary campfires dot the landscape. Small green trees and groundcover are gone, and “human browse” lines exist in trees near timberline. In many areas, the streams are no longer safe for drinking. Several groups of people camping around the same lake lower the quality of the backcountry experience through noise and visual pollution.

Laws and regulations can enforce the rules, but cooperation, proper attitudes, and voluntary actions of visitors are better ways to pre- serve the land.

Think of the reasons why you might visit a backcountry area. If one reason is to escape an urban setting and enjoy nature on its own terms, then all it takes is a little care-taking on your part
to make sure those places will remain healthy for generations to come.

The mission of the Leave No Trace (LNT) program is to promote and inspire responsible outdoor recreation through educa- tion, research and partnerships.

Make a Difference

You can make a difference by practicing and promoting these seven principles

  • Plan ahead and prepare

  • Travel and camp on durable sur­faces

  • Dispose of waste properly

  • Leave what you find

  • Minimize campfire impacts

• Respect wildlife

• Be considerate of other visitors

Awareness and Techniques

If we could look back at the Rockies, the Southwest or the Lake States in 1830, we would see a land devoid of cities, roads and vehicles, inhabited only by Indians and Mountain Men. When travel- ing the backcountry, the moun- tain man’s priorities were adven- ture, monetary gain and personal survival. Today’s visitors to the backcountry seek solitude, primi- tive recreation and natural scen- ery.

Yesterday’s mountain man left no sign of his presence in the backcountry. Today, backpackers should strive to leave no trace of their presence so that the next person may enjoy a natural scene and the solitude it portrays. By treading lightly nature can en- dure and replenish.

Plan Ahead and Prepare

Trip Planning

The first step of awareness and a primary backpacking technique is trip planning. As one of many visitors in the backcountry, a carefully planned trip can help to protect yourself as well as the environment.

Things to consider

• Maps to plan access, take-off and return points, route of travel, approximate camping areas and points of attraction to visit.

• Proper light-weight equipment to safely cope with the elements and your recreational pursuits.

• Food for the entire trip, packed in lightweight containers such as plastic bags.

• Number of people in the party and their abilities.

• Regulations and restrictions that may be applicable.

Experience will help you refine planning skills, equipment and

techniques. However, evenings at home with how-to books, practice in putting up tents or shelters from ground cloths and trying out dehydrated foods or home recipes will spark the imagination and eliminate some mistakes.

What You Need

Gear and Supplies

• Tent or tarp for shelter • Nylon ground cloth
• Sleeping bag
• Foam pad

• Water filter
• Lightweight stove
• Cooking utensils
• Cooking kit (lightweight pots and
• Small flashlight, extra batteries
and bulb
• Nylon rope
• Knife or multi-tool
• Waterproof matches
• Needle, thread, and safety pins


Dehydrated meals
*Trail snacks – high protein, high. Beef jerky and almonds or other nuts are a good source of protein on the trails.


Bring enough for 2 changes, in case one set gets wet or damaged. Bring wool or synthetic under lay­ ers for quick-drying and warmth when wet.

Shirts- long-sleeved and short ß Socks- inner and outer
* Baselayer Jacket- synthetic or wool
Camp shoes
Waterproof jacket and pants

*Knit hat  and mittens
Sun glasses

First Aid Kit

(you can make your own)

adhesive bandages
4-inch elastic bandages
triangular bandage or cravat ß antiseptic
aspirin and/or ibuprofen

eye wash
adhesive tape
insect repellent
sun block
moleskin for blisters ß tweezers
lip protection


  •  Boots, not tennis or sandals

  • Socks – inner and outer lay­ers. Breathable and moisture wicking alpaca sock or merino wool socks are the best options we have found.

  •  Laces – take an extra pair


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