Backpacking is an exhilarating hobby. It gets you out of the house into the forest or woods. It tests your abilities, endurance and shows you magnificent views made by our creator. Backpacking ( much like gazing at the stars ) can make you feel insignificant in size compared to the area we occupy.
We live in a fragile ecosystem, where what we do effects the environment. If you scrape a channel to route water around your tent and don't fill it in when you leave, due to erosion, you could create a trench that washes away soil causing trees to topple or fill in a chipmunk den. The activities you pursue could have more effects than you realize.
I compiled what I learned from my backpacking and hunting experiences to show beginners the proper etiquette while in the woods.
I have been backpacking and hunting for many years and found the best effective means to accomplish various tasks from how to choose a campsite and starting a cooking fire to staying safe on the trail. I have also had many encounters with animals and as of yet have not had episodes that were dangerous. I'm not sure if it is just luck or results from my practices but I try to minimize encounters when I don't want them. I would rather view wildlife from a safe distance than dangerous encounters where I or the animal can get hurt. Yes, sometimes I carry a gun, where it is legal, just in case.
I also leave an itinerary with a good friend and check in whenever possible. This way if something does happen, people will know when and where to start looking. If you plan on being out of the woods in three weeks but you get injured on the third day, if you did not leave an itinerary people will not be concerned and will not start looking for you until three weeks later.
One time while trekking the Hope Trail on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska I came across a bull Moose about 30 feet away. I startled the moose as I rounded a bush. I didn't know whether to grab my gun or camera first. I froze to watch his reaction. He just grunted showing his apprehension of being interrupted with his evening meal and went back to grazing. Because of his reaction I realized I just had to grab my camera.
Being prepared is the key to having a safe and enjoyable trip. You can over pack for an expedition. I know people that just bring bare essentials such as a sleeping bag, tarp, waterproof matches, powdered toothpaste, iodine, a cup and energy bars. The tarp is used to keep them dry should it rain. The iodine is to kill bacteria in the water they drink. The waterproof matches are for emergencies only ( they don't use fires and you don't have to cook energy bars ). Powdered toothpaste is lighter than normal toothpaste but the weight of a sample size tube is insignificant. They use a finger instead of a toothbrush which doesn't do as good a job.They don't carry toilet paper they use leaves.
They bed down at sunset so they don't need a flashlight. I can understand reducing weight in the pack but I like to enjoy the woods and converse while sitting by a fire. If I wanted to carry bare essentials it would just be a knife and flint. I would build a shelter at each campsite and live off the land.
I prefer a little more comfort such as a cup of tea and something a little comfortable to sleep on. Sometimes I have been considered as bringing too much but I would rather have something and not need it as to needing something and not having it.
To see what I bring check out my what to take backpacking page. I have also provided you a printable backpacking list. I refer to this list every time I venture out for a multiple night trek and edit the list for each trip according to the length, season and location of the trip. Over the years I have also edited the list to remove unessential items.