Backpacking Essentials: Day Hikes—A Prelude

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Some people have been avid walkers all their lives, and have gone on literally hundreds of day hikes. They are probably more than ready to start backpacking, if they want to.

Other people have seldom if ever taken a hike of a few miles into the wilds. For them, a few day hikes can provide the experience that will make their first backpacking trip a pleasant and successful one.

A “training” day hike should be in an area where you also might backpack. You want to get the feel of being far from civilization, and you want to experience some of the same joys and the same discomforts as you would on a pack trip. On such a day hike, you will get practice in maintaining a steady pace, in fording streams, in resting the right amount, in always knowing where you are on the map, in keeping dry in the rain, in keeping warm in the cold, in everything except sleeping on the ground—and you could even do that for a while. You can cook a backpacking type of dinner for a midday meal, maybe once on a stove and once on a cook-fire. You can take your tent and pitch it, maybe several times on different kinds of sites. You can carry a regular frame pack or a soft pack filled so that it weighs as much as it will on a real backpack, just to see how it feels over a few miles.

So if you want to start backpacking but haven’t been day-hiking before, I strongly recommend you do that a few times.

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