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How to set up a week long backpacking trip

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This is a "how to" I wrote for running spring break, backpacking trips in college, however most of it applies to any long trip

Step 1. Finding where to go.Edit

This can be the most difficult step because there are a limited amount of long trails and they can be hard to find. You will need to search for a trail of group of trails which add up to at least 80 miles. The internet can work well but its still difficult. Backpacker magazine often has a lot of good information on trail and once a year dedicates an entire magazine to destinations. Keep in mind if your trails don't make a loop you will need to backtrack or have two cars.

East coastEdit


  • --


  • Cohutta and Big Frog Wildernesses of Northern, GA and TN - very nice 100+ miles of trails (Recommended)
  • Ozark National Forest (OK)
  • Ouachita National Forest, AR - 700 miles of trails
  • Florida Trail (from south to the end of the panhandle) 1000+ miles (thru-hike, but also has some large loops)

West CoastEdit

Step 2. Getting a map to make sure it's suitable.Edit

You can usually get a public use map from the national or state forest service. They usually are not the best, but they are a good start. Make sure that the place have enough interconnected trails to make a good trip. Then you can get a better map from ems, a local map store, the internet, or National Geographic.

Step 3. Checking conditions of the area.Edit

You will need to call or email the forest service, park ranger, or local clubs to find out the following information:

  • Trail conditions - blazes, crowdedness etc.
  • Water - availability and purity
  • Wildlife - what type of dangerous animals and what to do in an encounter
  • Fees.
  • Campsites - where you are allowed to camp
  • Weather - average and current
  • And ask them if that have any other suggestions.

Step 4. TransportationEdit

This can be very difficult if you don’t have a car. Renting a van is expensive but may be your only option. If you do rent, rental places around the airport may be cheaper. See if any of your participants have or can get cars.

Step 5. FoodEdit

Once you know for sure you can work on planning out food. Its best to do this with all the participants, but come with a plan.

Here is some advice,

  • Have a 8oz. block of cheese and loaf of bread for each person, to eat with dinner
  • Don’t plan on any fruits, vegetables or things that will crumble to last for more than 2 days of hiking.
  • Eat the heaviest and most perishable foods first
  • Don't buy organic bread, pitas, or tortillas. They don't last long without preservatives.
  • Save money by, buying in bulk


Proportions for backpacking.

  • Keep in mind you eat allot more when backpacking
  • Some people eat more some eat less

1 personEdit

  • Breakfast
    • 2 packages instant oatmeal
    • 2 packages instant cream of wheat
    • 1 ½ - 2 c. granola
  • Lunch
    • 1 large pita with peanut butter
    • 1 ½ bagels
    • 5 oz crackers
  • Dinner
    • ½ lb angel hair pasta
    • 1 ½ - 2 c. instant rice
    • 2 burritos (2/3 -1 c. bean flakes, 1/6 -1/4 lb cheese, 2 large tortillas)
    • mashed potatoes and beans (1 1/3 c. mashed potato flakes, 1/3 c. bean flakes, 2 ½ c. boiling water)
  • Snacks
    • 2 granola bars per day
    • 1 bag of dried fruit (medium to large handful each day)
    • 1 bag of trail mix (large handful each day)
    • block of cheese and loaf of bread per person for entire trip


Things to uses as staple food for dinner.

  • Couscous
  • Quinoa
  • Instant Rice
  • Angel Hair Pasta
  • Potato Flakes
  • Bean Flakes
  • Rice Noodle
  • Ramen Noodle (bulky)
  • They can be used in various combination to make an infinite amount of meals

and cool in 5 min.

Here are a few recipes

  • Spaghetti
    • 0.5 lbs angel hair pasta per person
    • 1 packet of spaghetti seasoning
    • 2 packets of tomato soup or 1 can of tomato paste
    • onion flakes
    • garlic
    • crumbled dried mushrooms
    • parmasion cheese
  • Rice and mushrooms:
    • Instant Rice (1 - 1.5 cups per person)
    • vegi bullion (1-3 chunks)
    • onion flakes
    • dried mushrooms
    • spices
  • Burritos (1 person)
    • tortias
    • dehydrated refried beans flakes (2/3 - 1 cup)
    • 1 packet taco seasoning
    • 1/4 lb of cheese
  • Mashed potatoes and Beans
    • 1 1/3 c. mashed potato flakes
    • 1/3 c. bean flakes
    • 2.5 c. boiling water
    • spices
  • Spicy Peanut Sauce
    • Any Noodle
    • 1 large spoon full of chunky peanut butter,
    • 4 times as much water,
    • onion flakes
    • crushed red peppers

Step 7. GearEdit

Gear list: (long backpacking trip- week or more)

  • Clothes:
    • Boots
    • 2+ hiking socks
    • 1 pair of warm socks for camp
    • liners(optional)
    • thermal long underwear(top and bottom)
    • fleece
    • fleece pants(optional)
    • wind pants
    • rain pants(necessary in cold optional in warm)
    • shell aka waterproof jacket
    • t-shirt
    • shorts (optional)
    • hat and gloves
  • Gear:
    • tent
    • sleeping bag
    • sleeping pad(optional in summer)
    • backpack
    • pack cover(can be a trash bag)
  • Personal:
    • tooth brush
    • knife
    • small personal first aid kit
    • bowl and spoon/fork
    • 1-3 extra trash bag (contractor bags are the best)i have extras if you need them
    • Whistle
    • Flash light with extra batteries
    • Any medication you need it case of emergency (allergy med, inhaler, epi pen)
  • Optional:
    • Hiking poles

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