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The Benefits of Longer Hikes

backpackingBackpacking can add new dimensions to your hiking experience by extending your stay in the wilderness. The additional benefits of backpacking are two fold. Backpacking gives you a chance to extend and enhance your hiking experience and the meaning it brings to you on a personal level. Secondly, it opens up more new territory. You can travel farther into wilderness and see more of the natural world when you arenít constrained by always having to return at the end of the day.

The longer you stay out in the wilderness the more layers of artificiality are stripped away and the deeper your understanding of nature becomes. Perhaps the most dramatic and immediate effect is noticed when you extend your stay to include a full day's cycle of both light and darkness. If you have never tried hiking out and staying for a day or two, you should at least try it once. It is quite an experience.

Naturally enough with more to gain there are also more risks involved with backpacking than with simple day hiking. When backpacking you are often travelling farther from sources of help should you need it. For this reason it is best to make your first overnight foray in the company of an experienced backpacker if possible. A little experience goes a long way towards preparing you for coping with the additional challenges of backpacking.

Preparing for a backpack trip involves selecting, assembling, and packing the gear and supplies that you will want and need with you on your adventure. The business of selecting gear is important to the success of your trip. Too much gear or the wrong type of gear can result in a crushingly heavy load that would spoil the hike for even the best physically conditioned backpacker. Wrong choices or too little gear can mean a lack of comfort and, depending on conditions, perhaps even safety. There is a whole section devoted to gear and supply selections. Studying it will help you select the gear you need to make your backpacking adventures a success. Gear choices for many backpackers are ongoing, evolving, and ever changing. There is no right or wrong way to go backpacking. Just learn what works for you.

Often you can borrow or rent the extra gear you will need to give backpacking a try, and it is a good idea to do so for your first trip. You may not like backpacking (though if you like hiking I canít imagine why) and decide that you prefer to stick with day hikes. Borrowing or renting the gear you need for an overnight trip in that case will avoid wasting money on gear that you wonít use again. Borrowing or renting also gives you a chance to gain some experience so you can more wisely select the gear that will be right for you should you decide you want to go again.

However you do end up going about it, I urge you to give backpacking on an overnight trip a try. If you wake up during the night, take a moment to listen for any new sounds, and if the sky is clear, look up at the stars. Once you have tried I think youíll want to go again.


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