Frank's 5ive Faves.
by Frank Lee Ruggles
My Top 5 Backpacking Tips Are:
#5 - Learn alternate ways to navigate. GPS units fail, maps get wet, compasses break, batteries become exhausted, but the sun and the stars are always in the sky. Learn to navigate by them and you'll have a better chance of getting home if you become lost. Getting lost is not only sucky for you, but it wastes the resources and time of the rescue teams that need to tromp around looking for ya!
#4 - Don't let the first time you look at your trail map be 30 minutes after you realize you don't quite know where you are. Look at your map BEFORE you head out! Write yourself notes on the map to remind you of things you want to stop and see. Plan rest breaks and look for challenges before you face them. Using a quality Topo Map or complete trail map, you can "hike it in your head" before you ever hit the trail.
#3 - Take a photo class. Every time you share your experiences with a friend, you are potentially creating a new fan of the out-of-doors AND a potential ally in the struggle to keep our wild places wild. Great photos tell the story as well as any well spun story. Get armed with a nice point and shoot digital camera and the knowledge of how to compose a great picture, which is a great skill to have.
#2 - The Internet is our friend. Research your trip before you head out for important data such as weather, elevation, and how to contact medical help should you need it. The internet trail reviews can even tell you those special "off the map" must-see attractions along the way that can be the difference between a good trip and a FLIPPIN' AWESOME TRIP!!! When you get back from a successful hike (or maybe one with a few challenges) go leave a review of what you learned for those who will be there next weekend. Be kind, write a line or two.
and the number one Backpacking tip:
#1 - Tell someone where you are going and when you'll be back! For crying out loud!! Don't just slog off into the back country without letting a reliable person know the details....and don't TELL THEM....E-mail the information to them with links to maps and local authorities contact information. You can't give them too much info, so just put it in the e-mail. Details like who you are with, what gear you have and how much chow/water you are packing is helpful should a rescue need to be organized to come find your carcass. :)