I have been doing the 365 Mile Challenge for a few years now and feel like I have reached a standpoint where I can tackle backpacking. I knew it would require a certain level of physical fitness and just as importantly a confident mindset. So I am going for it! But where do you start when you want to push your limits and tackle a whole new activity like backpacking?
The variety of every type of gear available can seem overwhelming (and of course box stores will sell you anything they can), so I started with the most basic beginner book I could find on backpacking gear which promptly caused flashbacks to freshman Spanish when I realized backpacking lingo is like learning a new language. There are a half dozen types of tents with that many more features, then there are backpacks, and sleeping bags and pads and the list goes on. So I made my own lists and notes about the pros and cons of the gear I was interested in while keeping in mind the type of terrain and weather I plan to backpack in.
I talked to friends (new and experienced) that shared my interests. They all have valuable insight and are so very important! I learned about social media groups dedicated to backpacking, tips on buying gear without breaking the bank and honestly most importantly – received the support and encouragement to push forward with my backpacking journey.
I have shopped around for (and purchased) gear, read about planning a hike, started planning a hike (on paper), and have planned out a few outings that have a safety net built in. Oh, did I mention I have never been camping, like ever? So my first few “outings” will be practice runs in my backyard and then hopefully joining some friends on an adventure this summer. I cannot wait!
Learning about backpacking is a push your limits challenge in itself but it is just the beginning of your journey. It is a journey that challenges your knowledge, your courage, and your belief in your own abilities. I still have a volume of information to read, learn, and process not to mention skills to work on but I am enjoying expanding my horizons immensely.