Backpacking for a month can be the most incredible adventure of your life. This type of travel offers endless possibilities with new experiences waiting around every corner. However, if you want your month-long backpacking trip to be successful, it’s essential to prepare properly.
If you’re backpacking for a month, you should prepare by researching your route beforehand. Determine what you need to bring, then calculate your expenses and make a budget. You should practice for the trip by physically training. Be sure to inform those closest to you of your plans.
4 tips for budget backpackers going on a month-long trip are:
- Buy your gear second-hand
- Opt for DIY gear and cheap alternatives
- Choose your destination wisely
- Get the most from your meals
When planning for a month-long backpacking trip, you need to consider all the essentials for safety, comfort, and fun. It’s important to know exactly what to pack and how to prepare for this trip, so you can get the most out of your adventure. We go into detail on everything you need to know below.
Will Backpacking For A Month Be Expensive?
Backpacking for a month does not have to be expensive. Your first trip will cost the most as you will need to invest in gear and equipment you likely don’t already have. Many backpackers worry about the cost, but there are plenty of ways to save money on extended backpacking trips.
One of the most significant barriers people face when backpacking is the cost. Or at least, what they think the cost will be. There are many sources out there that warn aspiring backpackers about the excessive spending requiredto take a trip of this magnitude.
Unfortunately, these resources tend to scare people away from the activity. Many cite the cost of a month-long trip to be upwards of two or even three thousand dollars. While it is true that beginners do have to make more initial investments, backpacking doesn’t have to break the bank.
Your first trip will cost the most because you’ll need to pick up some gear you don’t have. Things like a solid pair of hiking boots and a good pack can be expensive. However, by sticking to the following tips, you’ll save on other costs. In the end, you could be looking at a much more manageable price tag.
4 Tips For Budget Backpackers Going On A Month-Long Trip
1. Buy Your Gear Second-Hand
New gear costs a lot of cash. A hiking backpack can reach upwards of hundreds of dollars, as can a good pair of boots. Your start-up costs go through the roof when you add in a camp stove, tent, trekking poles, and other trail equipment. However, you can mitigate most of that cost by purchasing used supplies.
Most people don’t even know that buying second-hand gear is an option. You can cut the cost of your gear by 50% to 80% or even more when you buy it used. Your local consignment shop is a good place to get started. However, you don’t need to spend hours searching through thrift stores if you don’t want to.
Head online and check out websites that sell used gear like Out & Back, GearTrade, or even eBay. REI has a used gear section on their online store, as does Patagonia. Here, you’ll be able to score gently used items on the cheap, drastically cutting your costs and increasing your cash for adventuring.
2. Opt For DIY Gear And Cheap Alternatives
You might not be able to purchase everything you need second-hand. If that’s the case, you can still save money on your backpacking trip by making your own gear or using cheap alternatives in place of more expensive gear.
Many backpackers are afraid to DIY their gear because they think cheaper options will fail, but this is pretty unlikely if you make smart decisions. Even if it does happen, it’s a risk that could be worth taking to save money. If you take proper safety precautions, the worst thing that could happen is some passing discomfort and a lesson learned.
You can get started by making small changes. Instead of a backpack rainfly, use a contractor’s garbage bag. I once used the same bag for three months, and it kept my pack relatively dry during downpours. Another option is to go to your local home improvement shop and pick up some Tyvek house-wrap.
Tyvek is used to protect homes from the rain until siding can be installed, so it’s incredibly waterproof and durable. You can use it for a footprint on your tent if you don’t want to pay for an expensive protective layer to sleep on. Another way to save is by making your own first-aid kit instead of buying a pre-made one.
Consider picking up plastic cutlery rather than expensive camping cutlery. You could also bring a fork and knife from home. Bring along cheap or used synthetic clothing for camping in, and don’t spring for one of those fancy fire-starter kits. Instead, bring a Bic lighter and keep it in a plastic baggie to protect it from rain.
3. Choose Your Destination Wisely
Whereyou go backpacking will heavily impact cost. That isn’t just because some regions are more expensive than others, but also because of the logistics involved in a month-long backpacking trip. First, you’ll need to travel to the trailhead.
Do you live in California but want to spend a month backpacking the Appalachian Trail? Unless you have friends in the region, you’ll need to buy plane tickets and rent a car to get yourself there. Then, you’ll need to arrange transportation back to the car from wherever you end up. This can get costly, and it can also be a major headache.
If your trail is right down the road, you can hop in your car and drive there. This is the cheapest option and choosing a trail close to your home will generally be best for your first foray into long-haul backpacking. That way, you can drive yourself to the trailhead. When you’re done, you could even have a friend pick you up and drive you back to your car.
4. Get The Most From Your Meals
If you’re backpacking for a month, you’ll likely be on a trail where resupplying is possible. It would be nearly impossible to carry enough food for a month on your back. That would equate to between 1.5 and 3.5 pounds of food per day once you factor in the calories you’ll need. Carrying it all in one go would mean lugging around an extra forty-five pounds minimum.
Even though you’ll be resupplying, you still need to bring enough food to fuel your footsteps. Unfortunately, a lot of people fall into a trap when it comes to packing food. They think they need to bring all sorts of freeze-dried, ready-meals to save on weight, however these meals can be costly ranging between $5 and $10 per bag.
A month-long supply of ready-meals will cost you hundreds of dollars. You don’t have to spend that money though. Instead of buying pre-made meals, bring cheaper alternatives like rice, beans, and lentils that can be cooked with water. Soy kernels and dehydrated beans are cheap and very lightweight, providing a great source of protein on the trail.
As long as you can find water, you’re free to pack pulses, legumes, and grains of all kinds. It’s also good to bring some cheap items that don’t need to be cooked for snacking on the go. Take staples like peanut butter and tortillas for quick treats on the trail. You can bring a few ready meals if you prefer, but getting creative with your food will save you money in the long run.
Is It Safe To Go Backpacking For A Month?
It is safe to go backpacking for a month if you prepare properly and take all proper precautions. You must train physically and mentally to withstand such a long adventure. You must also be prepared for any unforeseen circumstances that could occur, from dangerous weather to wildlife encounters.
Many people are afraid of lengthy backpacking trips. After all, a lot can go wrong in the wilderness. You’ll be exposed to elements like wind and rain, which can be intimidating if you’re not used to them. You’ll also have wildlife to contend with, which can be benign or deadly depending on the species.
Even your own mind can betray you on the trail. You’ll be sleeping in a tent for a month, without a bathroom in sight. That can get hard, especially when you factor in the physical stress of so much activity. It’s essential that you are mentally capable of the journey and well-prepared for the hardships you will inevitably run into.
Safety Depends On You
Despite all the potential dangers, you canbackpack safely for a month. It all depends on your mindset, level of fitness, and preparedness. By keeping a good attitude, you’ll stay ready for anything. If you are physically able to complete the strenuous task of hiking, you minimize your risk of injury. When you bring the correct supplies, you’ll be able to handle any adverse conditions that arise.
Furthermore, you can take certain preventative measures to ensure you stay safe on the trail. Always let someone know where you’ll be hiking and have a pre-set backup plan in case of emergencies. Even though it’s unlikely you’ll run into a real emergency, it is possible – so taking proper precautions is a must.
3 Tips For Backpacking Safety On A Month-Long Trip
1. Bring A First-Aid Kit
Many people try to cut weight by ditching their first-aid kit. While this may be fine for a short jaunt, your month-long backpacking trip will potentially come with injuries. When injuries happen, you need to be able to address them immediately. Even if they aren’t severe, they could become much worse without proper treatment.
Having the means to administer medication and dress wounds is essential on the trail. Your feet will likely become blistered, your skin could get rubbed raw, or you could get burned by the campfire. It’s even possible that a more severe injury could occur, such as a broken foot or stomach virus. If or when that happens, a first-aid kit can make all the difference.
A pack of band-aids won’t cover you. You need antibiotic ointment, antiseptic wound wash, bandages, an anti-diarrheal, some pain medication like aspirin, and an antihistamine in case you run into an allergy. It’s also smart to pack sunscreen and aloe vera in case you get burned, and some anti-itch cream in case of poison ivy. Plan for any injury or illness, minor and major.
Keep in mind that your first-aid kit doesn’t only treat injuries. Having the means to take care of yourself will instill peace of mind and increase confidence. Making yourself and your companions more comfortable after an injury can greatly improve everyone’s attitude as well. This is key for safe backpacking, so don’t neglect your first-aid kit.
2. Pack A Navigation System
You should always stay on the trail as you hike. That way, you’ll always know the direction you’re headed and how to get back to civilization in case of an emergency. What if you accidentally veer off-track? No matter how careful you are, you can still get lost in the wilderness when you leave the trail.
Sometimes campers get overzealous when searching for that perfect creekside site, wandering a bit too far off the beaten path. Afreak weather incidentmight cause you to panic and look for shelter off the trail, or you could just get lost looking for a toilet in all the wrong places. Anything could happen that might cause you to stray from the path.
If you get turned around, it’s easy to panic. But staying calm means staying safe – and if you have a navigation system, staying calm will be much easier. Bring a compass and a map so you can find yourself from anywhere. Make sure you practice using it before you begin. As you hike, take a pen and mark the trail so you have a better idea of where you are.
If you want to be extra-careful, bring a satellite GPS with you. That way, you can catch a signal even when your cell phone might not get any reception. You can also bring a satellite phone if you prefer, so that you always have the option to call for help if need be.
3. Tell Others About Your Plans
You should always inform a close friend or family member when you go for a hike. This is true even if your hike will only last a day, but incredibly important for lengthy trips. Heading out for a month-long backpacking adventure is no joke. You need to have a detailed itinerary and share it so that if something goes wrong, someone knows where you are.
Telling someone about your plans doesn’t mean mentioning your trip in passing. Be sure to tell your friends and family exact details. This includes what day you’re heading out, the trailhead you’ll be embarking on, and when you’ll most likely get back. You should also know roughly when your resupply missions will be happening.
Write everything down on paper, making sure to include where you’ll be parked and the make and model of your vehicle. Give several of these notes to your chosen people and consider emailing the info as well – in this day and age, papers can get lost. Emails and digital copies last forever.
You should also think about giving everyone a call during your resupply missions. That way, they can stay abreast of your current situation and be informed if your itinerary has changed at all. If you are diligent about calling and sharing information, people will notice if they haven’t heard from you in a while. Then, they’ll be able to take action on your behalf.
How To Prepare For Backpacking For A Month
Preparation is key on your month-long backpacking trip. It can seem pretty overwhelming if you’ve never gone on a long trip before. After all, you need to plan out the logistics, decide what you need to bring, and make a budget so you’ll have enough to cover all your expenses.
This is a lot of work, but in the end, your trip will be more than worth it. In the beginning, it’s difficult to break down each part of the process. The first thing to do is start researching. It’s probably the most time-consuming aspect of planning, but it will lay the foundation for success in all your endeavors.
Decide Your Destination
Firstly, you’ll need to decide where you’re going. There’s a lot that goes into this decision, and it can be hard to choose from all the tantalizing trails around the country. It is recommended that you choose a destination that isn’t too far from home for your first long thru hike.
You don’t need to choose the closest trail to your house but consider one in your own state or a state nearby. That way, you’ll be able to plan out the logistics more easily and spend less money on transportation. Once you decide where you’ll be going, you need to plan whenyou’ll go.
It is recommended to go when the temperature will be mild and warm. This could be spring, summer, or fall depending on where you are located. It’s better to save wintertime backpacking trips for when you have more experience on longer journeys and are more accustomed to the general hardships of long-haul backpacking.
Do Your Research
Research your chosen trail heavily. Buy a trail map and study it, figuring out exactly where you’ll be hiking. Learn about the terrain, wildlife, and the general conditions you’ll be facing. Look at the different elevations and distances between resupply stops, so you can determine exactly how much food you need to bring along for each leg of the journey.
Read up on the trail conditions in different seasons, especially the time of year when youplan to hike. Find out how plentiful water is along the route. If there are very few opportunities for water, consider choosing a different trail. You don’t want to get stuck in a tough spot and get dehydrated on your first trip.
Plan Your Logistics
Find out exactly where the trailhead is and how to get there. Likewise, determine where you’ll wind up when you’re finished hiking. Unless you want to hike all the way back to your car, you’ll need to arrange transportation. This can be through a friend or a ride service. If you’re going with a hiking buddy, consider taking two cars to help with your logistics plan.
You can park one of the cars at the end of the trail and another one at the beginning. That way, you can just hop in the second car and drive back to the first when you’re done. Either way, plan out these logistics far in advance to avoid last-minute headaches and stress during the trip. Logistics planning will also help you make your budget, so you can start saving cash for your adventure.
Make A Budget
As you do your research and plan your backpacking trip, your budget will fall into place naturally. While there are plenty of ways to cut down on costs, this trip will still come with a price tag. You’ll be spending money on gear, supplies, and transportation. Most likely, you’ll be missing out on working for a month. Unless you have paid vacation hours, you won’t get any wages.
You can tighten the budget by choosing cheaper supplies or by making changes to your itinerary, such as shortening the trip or choosing a closer destination. You can also adjust the budget if you have a windfall by buying better gear or extending the trip.
If it seems like a venture that is too expensive, consider postponing and saving long-term rather than canceling altogether. Backpacking for a month is worth every expense you incur. It’s a life-changing experience everyone should undergo at least once.
Train Your Body
Backpacking is hard work, and physical fitness is a big part of both safety and preparedness. While you definitely don’t need to be an Olympic athlete to backpack for a month, you do need to be reasonably fit.
This holds especially true for rough and mountainous terrain, but even walking on flat ground with 50+ pounds on your back is extremely taxing. You can make sure you are ready by training hard for your upcoming hike. Your regimen should include both cardio and strength training, but don’t focus all your efforts in the gym alone. Include some outdoor practice as well.
Practice Your Hike
Make sure to head out on an actual hiking trail to practice. You don’t need to take a month-long backpacking trip in preparation for your month-long backpacking trip, but a few nights of hiking and camping outdoors will give you an idea of what it’s really going to be like.
You’ll become more physically fit practicing this way, and you’ll also learn how long it will take you to do things like set up camp and cook dinner. You’ll learn how hungry you get on the trail and how many calories you will need while backpacking.
You’ll get to know your strengths and weaknesses more intimately, gaining a deep understanding of the gear that works for you and what equipment you can leave at home. You’ll learn what kind of clothes feel most comfortable, and you’ll be able to break-in gear like hiking boots that can take some getting used to.
What To Pack For A Month Of Backpacking
Your packing list will reflect your personal needs and preferences. It will depend largely on your destination of choice and what climate zone you’re heading into. Your personal tastes when it comes to gear, food, and clothes will also play a significant role.
If you’ve prepared well enough by researching, training, and practicing, you’ll already know the sort of things you need. When it comes to supplies, some things are a must-have no matter what your preferences are. You don’t want to go without shelter, food, and convenience items like filters that can make or break your comfort on the trail.
Your backpack is arguably the most important piece of gear you have. It’s what carries all other gear, so it’s best to take your time picking out an appropriate backpack. Even if you’re buying it second-hand, shop around with online retailers until you find one that suits you.
If you’re buying in-store, try on lots of different packs to get a feel for what you need. Women can benefit from buying women-specific backpacks, which are designed to fit a smaller frame and wider hips. No matter your gender, look for a backpack that can carry at least 50 liters. This is the minimumyou’ll need, and a bigger pack won’t hurt at all.
You don’t need to have every fancy additional feature on your backpack, but you should have a full suspension system and adjustable straps for load balancing and weight distribution. This is how you stay comfortable on the trail, so putting some effort into shopping for your pack will be worth it in the long run.
Are you a tent person or a hammock person? Either way, you’ll need to bring shelter. A month-long backpacking trip is the perfect time to invest in an ultralight shelter, preferably one that’s durable and comfortable to sleep in. The lightest tents can weigh little more than a pound and are short on volume as well, making your trip a breeze.
It is recommended to use a freestanding two or three-season tent, depending on the time of year. Freestanding tents give you more freedom and versatility than trekking-pole tents or hammocks do. You can set them up anywhere, including treeless areas and places with hard ground. However, this really depends on your hiking style, so pick the one you prefer the most.
You’ll also need a tent footprint for ground protection and a rainfly in case of rain. These might come included with your tent, but they may not – always check the description before you buy your shelter. It’s also a great idea to bring a small sleeping pad for nighttime, as they can greatly increase your level of comfort and maximize your motivation in the mornings.
You must consider two things when packing food. The first is how many calories you need per day, and the second is the location of your resupply stops. On a hike, most people need between 2,500 and 4,000 calories per day. This equates to between 1.5 to 3 pounds of food per day.
For example, let’s say you have a resupply stop at fifty miles. If you hike at an average pace of 2 or 3 miles per hour, you should reach it in 3 or 4 days. If you’re on the low end of the spectrum when it comes to caloric needs,you’ll need to pack 4.5 to 6 pounds of food. For the high end, you’ll need 9 to 12 pounds.
That’s a lot of weight, so pack your food carefully. You can adjust your food supply depending on your pace, the distance between your resupply stops, and any other factors you deem appropriate. Remember that these numbers are just an estimate, and your needs could vary significantly.
5 Gear Essentials For A Month Of Backpacking
1. Water Filter
Bringing a good water filtration system will keep you safe, healthy, and hydrated. LifeStraw filters are a great choice because they are compact and work well. However, there are many different filtration systems to choose from. Alternatively, you can also bring purifying tablets with you.
2. Water Bottles
Having at least two water bottles will allow you to gather water in one bottle and filter it into another. It will also act as storage for the unfiltered water, which you can carry on the trek at all times. It’s good to have extra water, as you never know when a source will run dry. A good set of Nalgene bottles is a great idea, but you can use cheaper bottles for budget trips.
3. Camp Kitchen
Don’t forget your compact camp kitchen. You’ll need a stove, a pot, and some utensils for your trip. The stove can be very compact, as modern stoves are essentially tiny platforms that tap into the fuel source. To be on the safe side, carry some extra fuel with you. Your utensils will depend on your budget, and can be made of anything from plastic to titanium.
4. Good Shoes
Your shoes are incredibly important. Pick comfortable boots or trail runners that you’ve broken in beforehand. You don’t necessarily have to buy them new, but you want to try them on before purchasing. It is recommended to bring a pair of sandals with you. These are more comfortable when crossing water and for hanging around at camp. They can even save you from blisters and athlete’s foot.
5. Stuff Sacks
You’ll need to organize your gear somehow. Hiking with everything stuffed willy-nilly into your pack will cost valuable time. Waterproof stuff-sacks are the best way to organize. They mold to shape, they are compressible, and they keep your supplies safe from rain. Get one for your clothes, one for your food, and one for hygiene essentials like a toothbrush and your first-aid kit.
Backpacking for a month can be the best experience of your life if you prepare properly. You must research thoroughly, train physically and mentally, make a detailed hiking plan, configure a budget, and carefully pack your food and gear. Doing all of this will ensure you have a fun and safe trip.