Backpacking 101: Travel Advice for the Adventurer

By Shane Fay

Heather Balogh Rochfort, author of Backpacking 101, a hiking enthusiast from Colorado.
Heather Balogh Rochfort, author of Backpacking 101, a hiking enthusiast from Colorado.

Backpacking 101 is the Holy Bible of travel advice for those seeking adventure in the great outdoors. With this incredibly useful book, anyone can learn the ins and outs of safe, efficient, and fun outdoor travel.

Backpacking 101 is an invaluable resource for the modern day hiker. From teaching readers how to set up an environmentally friendly campsite, to teach readers how to safely interact with wildlife, this information-packed book has everything an outdoorsman or outdoorswoman should know.

Chapter One envelopes all of the mental and physical preparation necessary for a fun and safe camping trip. The author, Heather Balogh Rochfort, touches on the importance of finding an appropriate hiking trail, getting in shape, and finding the perfect backpacking partner.

Excerpts from the Book

The following passage outlines the necessity of finding the best available backpacking companion.

Tip number one, find the right friends to backpack with.

“Not all friends are created equal. If you are fortunate enough to have a buddy who is as interested in backpacking as you, consider yourself fortunate–you can learn together and share your enthusiasm for your newfound activity. However, it is possible that your BFF is less than thrilled at the prospect of sleeping in the dirt and noshing on dehydrated meals.

While that is a bummer, it is better to accept it and move on. Too often, eager backpackers try to force their friends into outdoor situations where the friends aren’t comfortable. This doesn’t do anyone any good and makes for whining and complaining trail company.

Once you’ve realized that some of your friends are better enjoyed over a beer and pizza, the happier everyone will be.

Phone Your Friends

“Finding an experienced partner is the best way to ease into backpacking (and if that person is a friend, it’s even better!). A knowledgeable buddy can provide much-needed advice, both on the trail and during your pre-trip preparations. Not sure if you should pack an extra layer? Phone your friend/mentor.

Debating which type of stove to purchase? Give ’em a ring. A seasoned backpacker is a reliable sounding board who can help you make good decisions as well as being a veritable cornucopia of what-not-to-do stories. You can gain a wealth of information from these mature and practiced veterans.

“The companionship of any person is typically preferable to an independent night under the stars, especially when you are at first beginning. Don’t get me wrong: solo backpacking has its merits. However, a been-there-done-that friend will help you work out the kinks during your first trip so that you can enjoy the trek rather than worrying about how your new stove functions.

Appropriate Group Size – Group trips often bequeath backpackers fond memories and even better campfire stories. But there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and that is the case with group size. Groups that are too large can be unwieldy to manage on the trail and have a negative environmental impact. the optimal size for backpacking groups is four to six people: plenty of personality for fun, but small enough to keep the group from running roughshod across the land.

 Heather Balogh Rochfort.
Heather Balogh Rochfort.

“Can’t find an experienced partner to take you out? No problem. Hundreds of meet-up groups have popped up all over the country, and many are filled with sage backpackers willing to lend you an ear for an amiable night on the trail. Walk your hands to the nearest computer and open up the Google search engine.

The Sierra Club (www.sierraclub.org) has local chapters that host hiking and backpacking events. I’m willing to bet you can find a local backpacking group within a few miles of your house. If not, visit your local outdoor goods store.

More often than not, these brick-and-mortar establishments offer regular meet-ups for various activities. Sometimes they even have mixers for people to attend in the hopes of finding outdoor companions.

Heck, you can always befriend a chatty salesperson and you might just find your next backpacking compadre. My point is this: don’t let what seems to be a lack of wilderness partners deter you from your overall goal. Trust me; they’re out there!

Be Fit, Be Safe – Before you embark on any type of fitness regime, contact your doctor for a checkup. He or she can take a look at your current state of health and recommend any special requirements you may need.”

About the Author

The author of Backpacking 101 is Heather Balogh Rochfort. Heather is a hiker, outdoor enthusiast, and trail runner.  Here is how she describes herself on her blog: “A work in progress. A real live wire. Heather Balogh Rochfort is an enthusiastic-yet-mediocre backpacker, skier, CrossFitter, and trail runner. You can typically find her in the mountains of *any* country, traipsing about with her husband, Will, or their 10-year-old rescue dog Tally. She is also a freelance writer in the outdoor and adventure travel industry.”

Heather’s website, Just a Colorado Gal, has been voted one of the top five best hiking and outdoor travel blogs by USA Today.

Heather also writes for Backpacker Magazine, The Huffington Post, and Gore-Tex’s Experience More magazine.

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Shane Fay

Shane Fay

Shane Fay is a creative writer and soccer enthusiast from Shrewsbury, Massachusetts intent on traveling across Europe to enhance his knowledge of the beautiful game, and explore the vast and various landscapes that the continent has to offer.