Going deep into nature alone is one of the most fulfilling experiences a person can have in life. We’re not talking just a short hike on the local trail system, although if that is all you can swing at the moment, by all means make sure to get out there. We’re talking about something a bit larger in scale. Solo backpacking is an exercise in many things but above all is a challenge. Taking an extended stay in the natural world is both exhilarating and freeing. Being deep in the heart of the natural world all on your own cannot be fully described with words, but before you get lost in the romance of man vs nature, there are some legitimate concerns to be addressed. The list is long, but here are a few key things you must have squared away.
Backpacking is strenuous in general. Having enough water on you, and in you, is crucial Take the time to pre-hydrate before you hit the trial. The best time to do this is as soon as you get to the trailhead. Make the time to take about thirty minutes at your trailhead, right when you park the truck even, to load up on water. Think this is overrated? Keep in mind that for the average well-fed person, it takes about 45 minutes for the water you have ingested to make its way to your bloodstream. Pre-hydrate, it makes a difference, especially when you are alone without another person to aid you in any way, shape or form.
Stagger Your Rests
Part of the beauty that comes along with the solo-backpacking experience is the flexibility of pace. One needn’t feel pressured by a faster-paced co-hiker, nor feel obligated to hang back for a straggler. It’s all on you. But for the kind of person willing to set forth into the great wild yonder alone, ambition can be a double-edged blade. Wanting to test yourself is one thing, but make sure you stagger your rest periods. Rest more than you usually would, given that you have only yourself to depend on. There is no shame in resting frequently on a hard hike in rough country, or even if you are just feeling a little worn out from a steep climb. This is also particularly important if you happen to be hiking in colder weather, as the more you sweat, the colder you will get.
One is None
When you’re a long way down the trail, alone, the rule of one becomes all the more important. One is none. This is in regard to your key items of gear. Absolutely vital things like your Leatherman, your headlamp, your fixed-blade knife and your fire-starting tool must not be singular. If you are going to venture off the beaten path, you must ensure that you have back-ups for these critical items. Yes, this will take up a bit more space in your pack and make it a bit heavier, but that is the kind of extra weight that is well worth the carry.