Before You Backpack: The Worst Hiking Blunders and Ways to Avoid Them


If you have a spirit of adventure and enjoy the great outdoors then backpacking and hiking are going to be activities that are high on your list of things to do, but what you don’t want to do is spoil the experience with some mistakes that could be bad news in a number of different ways.

Here is a look at how to prepare for your hike, including an overview of some classic blunders and rookie errors that could be dangerous as well as frustrating, why denim is a poor choice, good reasons to avoid cheap camping equipment, and suggestions for traveling light. (Check for some great finds.) 

Safety before fashion

You probably care about your appearance and want to wear the right clothes for your hike into the wilderness but when it comes to protection from the elements, denim could be disastrous.

One of the classic newbie errors is to choose the wrong type of clothing and denim is near the top of that list of faux-pas. Because denim is cotton it is a poor choice of material for any sort of hike, as it retains moisture when wet, meaning you will get wet and stay wet for longer if you decide to wear a pair of jeans.

You should also know that jeans can freeze up when the temperature plummets which could be very dangerous if you are not getting the right amount of insulating protection, so unless you are going on a short summer hike, it would be better to ditch the denim.

Don’t skimp on quality

In just the same way that you would want a vehicle like the Jeep Patriot, for example, on your side if you are exploring rugged terrain, you wouldn’t want to be taking shortcuts on something as important as your tent or sleeping bag.

It can be very tempting to be blinded by the low price of a tent or sleeping bag that you see at somewhere like your local Wal-Mart or similar outlet, but are you really going to trust your warmth and safety to a sleeping bag that cost less than $15?

If you are going to be exposed to the elements, you definitely want outdoor equipment that has been designed and made for the purpose rather than something that is more suitable for the kids to use if they are planning a night under the stars in the backyard.

Watch the weight

As you become a more experienced hiker you will learn the lessons of previous trips and travel as light as possible, with only the essentials making it into your backpack.

You will soon start to regret overfilling your backpack as you lug such a heavy load across undulating and steep terrain, so take a tip from the professionals and think carefully about how much clothing, food, and accessories you really need for the amount of time you are going to be hiking.

You can often tell how experienced a hiker is by the size and neatness of their backpack.

Other classic fundamental errors to avoid include not packing the right navigation tools and guides, and not paying enough attention to the weather forecasts.

Enjoy your outdoor adventures, but try to avoid a steep learning curve by learning a few tips from those in the know.

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224 thoughts on “Before You Backpack: The Worst Hiking Blunders and Ways to Avoid Them”

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