Just because your gear is all packed up and reservations are made does it mean your trip planning is done with. In my experience, trip planning isn’t over until you step foot at the trailhead. There are still plenty of things to be doing the week before your backpacking trip starts.
[series title=”This post is part of the How to Plan a Backpacking Trip Series” title_wrap=”h5″ list=”ol” future=”off”]
Don’t overlook the advice shared on this page, as it is some of the most important advice in this entire series. These are logistics that can easily make or break your entire trip.
Here are the last few things you need to do before you head out into the backcountry so you and your family can be stress free:
Double Check Your Gear
Assuming you just bought most of your gear, you probably don’t need to double check it to make sure everything is working order. What you do need to do however make sure everything has batteries and more importantly, make sure you know how everything works.
You don’t want to stumble into a campsite in the middle of the night only to try and figure out how to setup your tent for the first time. Iv’e seen many a Boy Scout dad do this and trust me, it doesn’t look fun.
If you have older gear or used gear, do yourself a favor and give it a once over before it goes into your pack. Anything that requires batteries, go ahead and change. At the very least, make sure you have extra batteries of that size in your pack. Even if you don’t plan on changing the batteries, check them out. Batteries that have been sitting for a while can corrode and ruin gear.
You also want to check out your tent seams and mosquito screen to make sure they are in good condition.
Prepping Your Backpack for Air Travel
If you are traveling by plane to your backpacking destination, you obviously have two options on how to get your backpack there. You can check the bag or try to claim it as a carry on. Here are a few tips about both methods.
Carry On Your Backpack – Without question, this is the easiest method of getting your backpack from point A to point B. Unless you are carrying a ultralight backpack that doesn’t have gear lashed all over it, you probably won’t be able to carry your backpack onto the plane.
Should you be able to carry your bag on to the plane, make sure your pack doesn’t have anything in it that its not supposed to. Most notably this includes, bear spray, pocket knifes, and stove fuel.
Checking Your Backpack – One of the best pieces of advice I can give when checking your backpack is to put it inside a plastic bag. When you are checking in at the ticketing desk, you can ask the agent for a bag to put your backpack in.
Do this or risk not going backpacking at all.
Putting your backpack inside the bag will keep all your straps and gear from snagging on the miles of conveyer belt and getting lost somewhere in the airport.
When doing this, it is usually easier and faster to use the curb side check-in. Just be ready with a few bucks to tip the baggage handlers.
It is important to note that even if you check your bag, you still can’t pack stove fuel and likely can’t pack bear spray. These things will need to be purchased at your destination and gifted to some lucky backpacker when you leave.
Checking the Weather
Honestly, no matter where you are going, you should be checking the weather constantly the week leading up to your backpacking trip. As we all know, weather can change without warning. Make sure you are keeping an eye on it incase you need to make any last minute gear changes to your pack.
Watching the weather is especially important if you are hiking at higher elevations or in areas that are prone to flash flooding like slot canyons.
If its possible, it is always a good idea to have a backup trip in mind should your original trip get scuttled due to weather. It may not be ideal, but at least you still get to go backpacking. For example, maybe you have a trip planned to hike the mountains in Rocky Top National Park, but the weather in those elevation says otherwise. You could always hike some of the trails lower down in the valleys or somewhere else outside of Denver.
Share Your Backpacking Itinerary
One of the last things you need to do before you head out into the back country is to tell a few people where you are going. While simply telling your friends and family where you are going and when you will be back is better than nothing, its not enough.
A backpacking itinerary has become a staple piece of safety gear in the outdoor community. The itinerary its self is nothing more than the high level details of your backpacking trip. The purpose of the itinerary is so that in the event of an emergency, officials have an exactly idea of where to look for your or your group.
Download my personal backpacking gear list for free.
You will want to make at least two to three or four copies of your backpacking itinerary. One should go to your spouse or close family member. The second should be left with another close friend or family member. The other two should be left under the driver seat of any vehicles being left at trailheads or shuttle spots.