How do you avoid crowds, bugs, and heat while backpacking? Schedule trips during the fall! Nothing is better than making yourself comfortable in a sleeping bag after a long trek. The cool temperatures and colorful leaves create a relaxing atmosphere and set the scene for some great memories.
While planning your trip, keep a few things in mind for the season and the act of backpacking. Here are helpful tips for packing for a fall backpacking trip.
Bring Essential Backpacking Gear
An excellent place to start is with the basics – a backpack, tent, and sleeping bag. Make sure your backpack is big enough to fit all your gear, but not so big that it’s cumbersome to carry.
Choose a tent that’s appropriate for the weather you’ll face – three-season tents are typically good for fall trips. However, if you backpack at higher altitudes in the fall, consider bringing a four-season tent to stay nice and warm throughout the night.
For your sleeping bag, pack one rated 10 degrees lower than the nighttime lows you expect to encounter. If you’re bringing a sleeping bag you’ve had for several years, check that it’s still well-insulated.
It’s important to see the area where you want to set up your tent and sleeping bag clearly. Headlamps are great for hands-free lighting, so you have both hands free to set up your tent and sleeping bag. The best headlamps for fall backing trips are durable, have comfortable headbands, and have generous runtimes for long nights.
Pack Plenty of Layers
For clothing, layering is essential. Bring a base layer, an insulating layer, and a waterproof outer layer. The base layer should be made of moisture-wicking material, like wool or synthetic fabrics. The insulating layer helps keep you warm – down or synthetic fill jackets are good options. And finally, the waterproof outer layer protects you from the elements – rain shells are a good choice.
While deciding on layers, avoid clothes made from cotton. The material absorbs and retains moisture, which is the last thing you want while backpacking. Instead, bring long-underwear tops and bottoms made from wool.
Just because it’s fall doesn’t mean you shouldn’t expect to travel in warm conditions. Pack clothing layers that adapt well to different temperatures. Depending on where you backpack, you may encounter wind, rain, and sun.
Bring Water, Hot Beverages, and Extra Food
For food and water, it’s important to pack enough of both to last you throughout your trip. Dehydration is a serious possibility in the backcountry in the fall because you may not sweat enough to realize you need to rehydrate.
Besides water, pack hot beverages. Drinking enough liquid is essential for regulating your core temperature. ‘Tis the season for hot cocoa, so create your own cocoa mix. Consider making it with protein powder to top off your energy levels as you enjoy a classic seasonal drink.
For food, bring easy-to-prepare items high in calories. Instant oatmeal, dehydrated meals, and energy bars are all great options. In case the weather takes a turn for the worse during your trip, pack a few simple meals you can make with boiled water.
Also, when backpacking during colder months, your body burns more calories to keep you warm. Bring extra food with healthy fats and carbs, like nuts and avocados, for fuel. If you bring fishing gear for your trip, fish are a great source of good fat.
By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to having an unforgettable fall backpacking trip. Just remember to pack smart and prepare for anything the weather (and season) may throw your way.