5 Backpacking Tips from a New Hiker

by Camie Schmidt
(Brentwood, CA)

Camie and Eric at the start

Camie and Eric at the start

Camie and Eric at the start What beautiful scenery! I made it to the top! Day 9 and still smiling

Before 2010, I had not backpacked a single step. Now I've packed over 100 miles including a 9 day 54 mile trip with my son & his Scout Troop! Woo Hoo! I've learned SO much, but here are my favorites.

My Top 5 Backpacking Tips:

1. On each trip when you get home as you unpack ask yourself if you used the item and if it is really necessary. Some (like first aid supplies) you'll want to keep, but others (that 2nd fleece, or taking both a fork and a spoon) can just stay in the crate.

2. Dehydrated veggies are fabulous! They can be eaten as a snack or added to ramen noodles to give a whole new flavor. Besides, they are super light!

3. I LOVE my hiking sticks! They add to my stability and my security, plus they can keep my pack upright when not on me. I prop the stick up against the back of the pack and it doesn't get all dirty when resting for lunch, etc.

4. Emergency Blanket. I get cold. I have a 15 degree bag, stuff my sack with clothes and well, I still get cold. The one item I don't want to camp or backpack without from now on is an emergency blanket. Not the thin silver space blanket (which i do carry), I mean the one that looks like a tarp on one side and silver reflective stuff on the other. I am dumbfounded at how effective it is in keeping me warm. I actually sometimes get too warm now. WONDERFUL purchase - well worth the $14 investment!!!!

5. Protect your toes! Of course making sure we tighten our laces going downhill is important, and keeping your toenails cut way down is good, and it's also important to take care of discomfort when it comes up.

3M Transpore Medical tape is amazing. Using that tape over any hotspots really worked wonders. When you feel an uncomfortable place rubbing or getting warm – on your next rest stop take the time to address your feet. Cover the spots with that medical tape and instantly – no more rubbing! I went 9 days without a single blister with the help of 3M Transpore Medical tape.

A word to the moms: If you are a mom out there wondering if you want to try your hand at hiking - go for it! Learn from others who are experienced and you will be amazed at what you can accomplish!

And one final tip to the moms - even if it's hot, a bathing suit top does not add the support needed to hike in. Invest in the expensive sports bra that you don't have to pull over your head. It's cold in the mornings and getting dressed with pull overs...not so fun.

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Return to Top 5 Backpacking Tips Contest - November 2010.