Preparing for Your First Idaho Backpacking Campout
Camping is some of the most fun you can have in the outdoors. Just being out under the stars in the peaceful and serene natural world is enough to make you never want to go back to civilization ever again. Nature has that kind of draw and when you spend enough time in it as you do when you are camping, it can be hard to turn away from it and return to the way things are in the city or town where you live. But the best part of camping has to be the fun things you can do while you are out there. Have a fun night by the fire and then when you wake up, get out and go for a hike or take a canoe onto the lake you camped out next to. But if you want to take camping to the furthest level and really get into the combination of hiking and camping, backpacking is going to be your thing. Camping with your car full of useful stuff or next to a wooden cabin is fun but it is not necessarily challenging. Carrying everything you need with you into the woods on your back for one or two nights of camping is something that requires a lot of preparation and which will test you to your potential limits. Here is what you can do to be ready.
For the most part, we are going to cover the basics, and there is nothing more basic than water. As you are probably well aware, water is pretty important to life. You cannot go long without water before you start to feel uncomfortable, hurt, and then die. In fact, you can go for quite a long time without eating. You can live for weeks without touching a morsel of food. It is not going to be a very fun time and you are going to be hungry and low on energy, but you will stay alive. Water is not at all like that. Depending on the conditions around you, you can suffer graves consequences from a lack of water in as quickly as just a few days. It might be even shorter if it is hot and dry out. Therefore, you want to bring plenty of water with you when you go backpacking. Even if you are only going to be out for a single day, your body can take serious harm if you do not have the right intake of water for that day. Pack away as much water as you can carry or be absolutely certain that there is clean water to drink along the way of your hiking, either on the trail or where you will be camping. Water is important for things beyond drinking as well but you can generally use just about anything that is not full of toxins and overloaded with bacteria to cook or clean yourself.
To carry everything, you want a very good backpack. You want something that has plenty of space (Including a healthy number of little pockets and places to hang things) but you also want something that will be comfortable on your back and something that you can easily balance. Weight is certainly a factor for a backpacking adventure, but it is honestly more about how you are carrying that weight. A light-weight pack can be really annoying and put a lot of stress on your spine if it is bulky and ungainly. The right backpack that has plenty of space and puts it in all the right places can be an expensive thing, but it is definitely worth the expense, let me assure you. I have been on backpacking trips with good backpacks and bad backpacks and the good backpack makes a world of difference. What also makes a world of difference is how you pack that backpack. The weight distribution of items in the bag should keep the pressure off your back and help you stay upright. This means heavy items should be around the center of the pack. This is generally going to be your water and food (At least, the water and food that you will not need while you are hiking).
A large part of preparing for a backpacking adventure is being physically ready for it. A backpack is a heavy thing when you fill it with all of the things you need for survival and reasonable comfort on a trip. In most situations, the hike itself is already going to be hard enough without carrying a large and full pack. If you are out of shape, you are going to be feeling that weight as the trip goes on for miles and miles. You might even find yourself in danger if you are not in a suitable state of fitness. Take the time to build up your strength and stamina before you go anywhere and work up to longer backpacking trips with shorter ones. A simple day hike with a pack can be pretty easy and do a lot to get you ready for a week on the trail. Otherwise, get out and do some exercising. You can very easily turn your first big backpacking adventure into a disaster if you are not physically prepared for it.
As a final note, Idaho is generally a pretty cold place, especially when you get out to the land of the beautiful mountains where a lot of the hiking is done. This means the equipment you should take with you is going to need to be tailored for this kind of environment. Your sleeping bag and tent should be good for certain temperatures and below what you might expect to find in the mountains. Maybe the most important consideration is what you wear. The name of the game is synthetic layers. You want clothing that will resist soaking and cold and you want tools to help you get through the rain. Pretty much everything you bring with you should be waterproof in some way or another. Your footwear might be the most important thing to consider. A good pair of boots is absolutely essential, and you want to properly break them in before you do anything serious.