Backpacking Tips: 4 Mistakes to Avoid

The trails are calling. But before you head out the door for your next adventure, make sure you follow these backpacking tips to ensure you don't commit a major hiking no-no.

Hiking Boots and Cotton Socks

A weekend backpacking adventure or even a long-day hike can conjure up images of sturdy boots made of leather or nubuck with thick soles and over-the-ankle support. But hefty hiking boots are rarely necessary on well-maintained trails and create their own fair share of problems.

In general, a lightweight trail-running shoe should suffice on well-maintained hiking paths. That's not to say there isn't a place for hiking boots in your closet. (Some folks prefer the look and feel of a sturdy hiking boot.) But when it comes to mobility, breathability and weight, a trail runner is superior.

But perhaps even more important than the shoe versus boot debate is what's underneath. New hikers will spend hours picking out the right boot or trail shoe and then grab a pair of cotton socks. Big mistake.

Cotton locks the moisture in and keeps it close to the foot, which increases the likelihood of blisters. Hikers should choose a synthetic sock that will wick moisture away from the foot.

More: Tips for the Trail: Hiking Boots, Camping Gear and More

The Overloaded Backpack

Heavy backpacks equal sore feet?and hips (and even the neck and shoulders).

Backpacks loaded up for a basic weekend camping trip should weigh less than 35 pounds. For your first overnight backpacking adventure, focus on the essentials:

  1. Basic first aid kit
  2. Fluids to stay hydrated (Gatorade works!)
  3. Flashlight/Headlamp
  4. Food
  5. Sun protection
  6. Sunglasses
  7. Map and compass
  8. Rain gear
  9. Pocket knife
  10. Lighter or matches
  11. Some kind of shelter like a tarp or tent
  12. Foam sleeping pad
  13. Sleeping bag

More: Dehydrating Food for Your Backpacking Checklist

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