Do you love to backpack, but can’t take off six months at a time for a thru-hike? There’s no shame in becoming a weekend warrior and backpacking once a week or once a month for a few days. After all, it’s how the majority of us get out for our backpacking and wilderness fix.
Here are some tips and tricks to make your adventures great:
1. Drive to your destination on Friday night.
- Keep your driving time under three hours.
- Pack up your car the night before so you’re ready to go.
- Get on the road and out of urban areas before rush “hour.”
- Better yet. Take a three day weekend and leave Thursday night.
2. Car camp near the trailhead.
- Find free campsites near your trailhead where you can crash for the night.
- Buy the Delorme Gazetteer for your State. It lists many campsites/resources you never knew existed on back roads and state recreation areas.
- Eat dinner in the car before you arrive to eliminate meal prep.
- Use a tent or hammock that is very fast to set up and take down.
- Bring an easy breakfast.
3. Work a list.
- Section hike a trail, climb all the mountains in the same park, or backpack all of the hiking trails in a forest or wilderness area over the course of many trips to the same area.
- Driving, hiking, and camping in the same area reduces the amount of planning it takes to go backpacking without a loss of variety or novelty.
- Meet other people working the same list and build community
4. Get off the grid.
- Turn off your cell phone. Really. No email, no news, no movies, no Kindle.
- Make a campfire and hang out
- Slow down at night, even if you hike hard all day.
5. Go alone sometimes.
- Going alone minimizes planning and logistics.
- It’s ok to go on a trip by yourself. You might discover that you like it.
- Get a dog. They’ll follow you anywhere and never complain.
I’ve been backpacking for years like this, just a few days a week, more or less every weekend and it’s a great way to escape the grind. If you have a love interest, it does help to have a sympathetic partner who comes with you or stays at home. If the latter (especially if you’ve been married for a while), you may find that they may look forward your absences and homecomings as much as you do.