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Backpacking 101: Most Common Mistakes of New Backpackers

I love organizing trips for inexperienced backpackers; they are so enthusiastic, just so happy to be outside, like every pretty view is the most amazing thing ever!  

Recently I organized a trip of 13 for a little trek on the Appalachian Trail from Maryland to Harper's Ferry.  A total of 20-ish miles over three days, so perfect for less experienced packers. Since this was far from my first 

1. Taking gear lists too literally: First, let me start by saying that Everyone, at every time they trek into the woods, should carry the 10 Essentials.  Heck, I carry them in my car so I have them whenever I leave my house!  Other than these, a lot of items are up for debate.  trowel, soap, deodorant. 

2. Carrying too much of one item: toilet paper, bottle of vitamins, entire package of fire starters

3. Carrying too large of an item:  full-size Mag Lite, half-pound bag of coffee. 

4. Buying too small of a pack:  hanging lots of stuff on the outside of your pack.

5. Buying too large of a pack:  it's like women who carry a large purse - if you have the space, you will fill it with needless space. 

6. Letting other people make you bring stuff:  if you aren't planning on cooking stead and potatoes over the fire, then don't carry it for anyone else! 

7. Not preparing for weather:  Temperature swing of 40* in one weekend (80* high first day to 40*F with a brisk wind the second night).

8. Not pre-testing gear:  Let's face it - gear failure is a fact of life.  

9. Overestimating Your Physical Fitness:  Pace yourself appropriately:  

10.  Proper hydration:  Don't underestimate how thirsty you may be, especially when you are a little out of shape and carrying weight.  One liter per 2 hours, plus one liter for every 1000' elevation gain should keep you from dying of thirst. 

11.  Don't forget the walmart bags!  They are terrible for the environment, but awesome to put over dry socks in cold weather once your feet get wet.  An awesome vapor barrier that can save 10 digits you will miss terribly once your fee thaw out.

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