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Want to Backpack but Have No Experience? Here's How!

A First Timer's Guide to Backcountry Hiking

By Cameron Heffernan

Scenic natural landscape
Graphic By: GT Nguyen

How can traveling and hiking through the backcountry become accessible to people unaware of the activity? Here are some first steps to get into this version of "vacay:" what to pack, what companies to reach out to, and how to prepare!

Hiking and camping are some of the best ways to connect with nature, but what if you wanted to combine the two into one big backcountry trip? Backcountry hiking means going off the grid and escaping to the woods. Mentally, you must prepare to be without service or access to the "real world," but it's an amazing opportunity to connect with nature! It can be a daunting endeavor for people who have only gone hiking all their lives. You may be physically in shape for the trip, but it takes weeks of preparation and planning. However, this does not warrant taking "hiking the backcountry of Norway" off your bucket list. Here are some tips and tricks on how to get started with backcountry planning.

First, you can join hiking clubs in your local area, especially in a metropolitan place like Boston. Reaching out and involving yourself in these groups can be an excellent way to make friends with prior experience. If you are looking for a more solo experience and are willing to learn, Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) teaches courses that prepare you for what to pack and what gear to invest in.

Backcountry hiking is an extraordinary experience many people don't invest the time into, mainly because it is not for the faint of heart. You carry your life on your back for days at a time with nothing between you and the force of Mother Nature. Intense preparation is key. But, for the adrenaline junkies, this can be the most rewarding experience.

Scott Stillman is an avid writer on nature and the freedom that comes with exploring, and in his book "I Don't Want to Grow Up," he speaks on how he never stopped grasping at new experiences and living life to the fullest. It is never too late to learn how to backcountry hike, and if you are interested, dive in head first. Connecting with nature is missing from so many people's lives, so make the trek while you still can.


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