Women all over the world have come to love backpacking for various reasons. For some, it is a perfect opportunity to get up close and personal with nature, while others see it as a way to enjoy the serenity that can only be experienced while being in the middle of nowhere. Some consider this as a great exercise, allowing them to develop their physical fitness while boosting their self-confidence as they conquer one trail after another. Though backpacking isn’t always about smelling flowers and listening to chirping birds, it is an adventure worth undertaking and one that every woman should definitely try. But before you get all excited, read about our tips about backpacking for women and be sure to keep them in mind so that you can have an enjoyable and safe backpacking trip.
1. Dress for Success
What you wear for your backpacking trip will largely be influenced by the season you hike in. Regardless, you’ll want to avoid wearing clothes made from cotton since it traps sweat and moisture which will then leave you wet and keep you cold.
Clothes made from synthetic fabrics like polyester, nylon, and merino wool are always the better option for backpackers, men, and women alike. These have features that will wick away sweat and moisture and dry quickly. Some of these even have anti-bacterial properties that help to drive away offensive body odors (which is one of the biggest concerns for girls backpacking).
If you are backpacking during the warmer months of the year, look for lightweight synthetic hiking clothes. On the other hand, if you choose to go adventuring during winter, then clothes made from wool and fleece would be the better choice. Regardless of the season though, practice layering your clothes and have a warm or waterproof layer packed in your backpack.
Having the right pair of hiking boots or shoes is also crucial since this does not only make sure that your feet are comfortable, warm, and dry but they also help prevent blisters. Don’t be afraid to invest in high-quality hiking boots or shoes that are waterproof and have good grips on the soles. Look for boots that have ankle support as well to help decrease your chances of slipping and ending up with a sprained ankle.
2. Bring the Right Gear
The gears that women should bring to a backpacking trip are pretty much the same as those with men, though of course some gender-specific essentials should be included in a female backpacker’s backpack. Aside from your gender-specific items, your backpack will mostly contain the same things as food and water (make sure you have enough), a backpacking tent and sleeping bag, and some extra clothes. Here’s a more detailed and complete list of items to bring on your backpacking trip.
3. Choose the Appropriate Sleeping Bag
One of the most important items you can bring to a backpacking adventure is a sleeping bag. And because women have different sleeping requirements than men, it is only right that this item deserves its own spot in this article.
It is always recommended that women bring sleeping bags that are designed for their anatomy. But is a women-specific sleeping bag really necessary? The short answer would be yes. Women’s sleeping bags are designed differently from ordinary sleeping bags. They have narrower shoulders, wider hips, and have extra insulation in the upper body of the bag and the foot box. All these features can help women sleep warm and snug during that cold night outdoors. If you’re having trouble choosing the right sleeping bag for you, you can refer to our guide on choosing a backpacking sleeping bag.
4. Test out Your Equipment before Going
Experts advise that you familiarize yourself with your equipment at least a week before your intended trip. This way, you can be sure that you know how to set up your tent and have no (or little) trouble when you get to the campsite. This should also give you time to inspect your backpacking gear and equipment to make sure that they’re all in perfect condition and have the necessary repairs made. Oh, don’t forget to break in your hiking boots or shoes as well. This will make them more comfortable and help prevent blisters.
5. Backpacking During Your Period
One of the biggest concerns of women is backpacking during their menstrual period, and more often than not it can be a scary thought especially if this is their first time backpacking. However, once you’ve done it, you’ll end up realizing that it’s no big deal at all, and backpacking with your period can be made fun and comfortable with a little knowledge and preparation.
Most backpacking women usually have two options to choose from when it comes to dealing with their period during the trip. Some prefer to use menstrual cups, a silicone or rubber cup which helps to catch the blood, while others make use of tampons or pads. Whichever you choose to use is really a matter of personal preference as each of them have their own pros and cons.
6. Plan, Plan, Plan
An essential factor to a successful backpacking trip is having a plan. This way, you have an idea of what your adventure will be like and thus be better prepared for it. Draw up a backpacking trip plan or itinerary which includes where to go, where you’ll be camping, and what landmarks to look for. Make notes also about how long the hike will take before you reach the campsite, what you should take to the trip, and who you’re going with if you’re not going solo. Don’t forget to leave a copy of your itinerary to a family or friend as well so that they know where you are and who you’re with while you’re away.
7. Pick a Popular, Well-Marked Trail
If you’re just getting started with backpacking, then it is recommended that you choose a well-traveled trail. More often than not, these are easier to follow and complete than the ones off the beaten track. Also, there are bound to be more of your fellow hikers on the trail (as well as rangers roaming about) which makes it a lot safer. Aside from that, most of these trails will have some interesting features along the path or at the end (which is probably why they’re so popular).
8. Tell Someone Where You Are Going
Before leaving home, be sure to tell someone where you’re going and when. Don’t forget to tell them when they can expect you to be back. You don’t have to be overly formal about this. A simple text message or call to a relative or friend should do. And when you do come back, don’t forget to give them a call to let them know that you’re fine and well.
9. Know Your Limits
One of the best things about backpacking is that it can test your physical, mental, and emotional limits. It is okay to go ahead and challenge yourself, and don’t forget to pat yourself on the back after completing a rugged trail or surviving a night out in the wilderness. But then as a beginning backpacker, you should be aware of your limitations and be careful not to push yourself outside your comfort levels too much. Take it easy first and avoid overexerting yourself (you’re bound to make more mistakes on the trail when you’re tired and feeling pressured). Don’t worry if you can’t complete the trail and feel the need to come home immediately. The trail will still be there next month or next year when you’re finally ready for it.
10. Learn How to Send Emergency Signals
Learning how to send emergency signals is a crucial skill that every backpacking woman should know, especially for those who are going solo. There are many different ways to transmit an emergency signal, and the easiest would be to use your phone to call for help. However, if you are backpacking in an area where there is no cellphone signal, then having a GPS messenger can be a lifesaver. An emergency whistle (strapped to your backpack or worn as a necklace) can also be used to signal for help. Thee blasts on the whistle is the universal call for distress, though you shouldn’t stop blowing on it until help arrives. It will be easier for rescuers to determine your exact location if they can hear the sound continuously.
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Like many other outdoor sports or activities, backpacking does not discriminate between genders. It’s a great way to enjoy the outdoors and visit some Instagram-able locations. Just be sure to keep the above tips for backpacking for women in mind while planning and during your trip. This way, you’re more likely to have a fun and safe adventure – an experience that you’re bound to remember and cherish for a long while.
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