Backpacking in the mountains: A guide for newbies
Living in the moment is what humans are born to do. So the next time you’re going on a holiday adventure with your best buddies, you might want to try something new.
Whether you are an adventurous crew down to the core or are only beginning to realize your love for such activities, then a mountain safari trip is definitely a good choice for you. While it may be daunting at first, you should be just fine if you have ample knowledge about what you need to bring and how to go about planning your trip.
What you need to bring
When hiking, it is important to remember to pack light. To achieve this, you should know which items are absolutely necessary when backpacking in the mountains. Also, knowing the different types of material can reduce your bag’s weight significantly.
The right clothes
Since you are going to a higher place, there is a good chance that the temperature will be a lot colder there than when you are at the base of the mountain range. Because of this, you need to have multiple layers of clothing to protect you from the weather. The bottom line is to wear something that you usually use during winter.
But since you will be exerting effort, you may get a bit sweaty from the climb, which is why you need to have a base layer that is made from wool fabric wick the moisture away. From there, you can add extra warm clothing and something waterproof on the outermost layer of your ensemble to ensure that you don’t get cold during the climb.
You should also wear a winter hat that can be slipped on while you hike, and other necessary accessories like a visor to protect your eyes from sweat and the sun. You should also break in your hiking boots (the lighter, the better) before your climb to ensure that you remain comfortable during the climb.
The effort from climbing up is greater compared to when you pass through flat grounds, which is why it is important that you have enough provisions that can give you the energy you need. The trick is to choose the food and water containers you will be bringing carefully.
As mentioned earlier, the items you bring should be made from lighter material — remember to keep this in mind when choosing a water container. As for the food, you should eat nutrient-dense food bars and bring a few more on your way up in case you get hungry.
If you’re planning to stay longer in the mountains and camp out, make sure to have a portable stove with you and something more filling that you can heat up. This will also help you relish the moment you have with nature, albeit amidst a wintry cold climate.
The proper tools and gear
Many newbie hikers have no idea what types of gear they should bring, which is why they often over-pack. Since you’ll be going in a group, it would be wise to plan which items you need with your companions and distribute the weight evenly. Of course, you may need individual items each of you can use on your way up.
One of the must-haves that each hiker should bring is a hiking pole. As the name suggests, this is a pole that can help hikers climb up the steeper parts of the mountain without exerting too much effort. Hiking poles are particularly useful for getting steady footing on parts of the mountain that are rocky or have loose sand.
On top of that, each hiker should also have their own emergency pack that contains a beacon to alert authorities should you need rescuing, and a first-aid kit for when someone gets hurt.
5 tips newbie backpackers should follow
Aside from knowing what you should bring, it is also good to have an idea of how best to prepare for your backpacking trip to the mountains.
If this is your first time doing this activity, you should consider following these five tips that can help even newbies enjoy backpacking to the mountains:
1. Do your research on the place
Learning about where you are going can help you acclimatize to the place before you even get there. This is also a critical part of the planning process where you can take note of some specific details like the culture, geography, and tourism so you can enjoy your hike up the mountains.
2. Book a great place to stay in
Experts in backpacking often camp out when they reach the peak, but as a newbie, it is recommended that you book a place where you can spend the night. Most popular destinations have hotels and lodges where explorers can stay in comfort while enjoying the unique experience, so you shouldn’t have any trouble looking for one.
3. Hire an expert tour guide
Having an expert in the place guiding you through the hike is definitely a good decision for newbie backpackers. While it may cost more, it will be worth it. Not only will this help you avoid getting lost, but it will also help you focus on enjoying the experience without worrying too much about where to go and what to do next.
Aside from that, you can make the most out of the experience since you have someone to ask and to help you avoid trouble when there are wildlife in the area.
4. Choose an easy itinerary
There are tons of holiday tours and packages you can choose from, but you can always opt for one with an easy itinerary when backpacking with your crew for the very first time. These tours vary in difficulty, depending on the mountain you’re going to climb. Some peaks can also be reached via several trails.
Aside from searching on Google for the easiest trail, you may also seek comments and suggestions from others who have hiked or climbed the mountain you are eyeing for your backpacking trip. This will give you more personal insights into the experience and help you decide if it’s the right one for you.
5. Plan around the weather
Since you will also need to consider the altitude when backpacking to the mountains, you should always plan your trip with the weather in mind. This can be done with a simple Google search, but some tour operators also offer an advance notice when the weather is not very suitable for a climb.
Even so, make sure to check the forecast yourself. This way, you can pack the appropriate gear and clothing based on the temperature and climate. Also, remember that the local weather reports often only offer a general forecast of the weather for a day, so always bring clothing and tools you may need for when the weather changes.
Ready to pack your bags?
Backpacking to the mountains for the very first time can be daunting if you have no idea what to do and bring during the trip. Make sure to do enough research and plan your trip thoroughly with your buddies to make the most out of the one-of-a-kind high-altitude hiking experience.
About the author
Hafiz Umer Ali Zaib is the Social Media Specialist at Luxury Tours, a leading provider of tours, cruises and safaris across the UAE. The company’s top offerings include the Dubai Desert Evening Safari, City Tours, Dhow Cruises, Mountain Tours, Limousine Service, Discounted Tickets for theme parks and a variety of many other excursions.