How to train for a Backpacking trip – A Detailed Guide

How to train for a backpacking trip

Hiking and backpacking can both be physically (and mentally) demanding, so plan ahead of time how you’ll prepare for your next epic trail. For backpacking for a few long hikes, prepare your essentials, such as a portable backpacking tent or a down-filled sleeping bag.

Fitness is also important. When preparing for an upcoming big trip establish and adhere to a steady backpacking training plan. When you’re in great shape, you can genuinely enjoy the thrill rather than be concerned about being sore and tired. Training can also be much more fun, and you can do it at home. Whether you have a vision of a dream backpacking trip or want to enhance your overall hiking fitness, you’ve come to the right place.

Backpacking trip

Backpacking trip

When going on a backpacking trip carry the necessary clothing, enough food, and camping gear. During backpacking, you might have at least one night on the itinerary; this may go on for weeks or even months. Even though there are fabulous walks all over the globe, you’ll be happy if you stick to the places you already know. Your body will appreciate you choosing a location near where you already reside.

Planning is essential; understanding the path and camping spot before departing makes the experience during the trip more fun. Below is an excellent approach for your backpacking adventure:

Choose a simple destination.

Choosing a path when planning a backpacking event can be tricky, with many excellent trails and locations to select. Consider this question: How far would you wish to hike? 5-7 miles a day is a good goal if you are new to backpacking. If you carry light weights, you might have left some of your essentials behind.

Choose essential clothing and gear.

Consider the distance you intend to hike, the remoteness of the site, and the weather prediction when choosing what to take for a backpacking trip. Generally speaking, you’ll need more clothing, equipment, food, and drink if the site is remote and has severe weather patterns.

During the trip have the essential hiking equipment. The ten essential hiking items are:

  1. Map
  2. Compass
  3. warm clothing
  4. Sunglasses and sunscreen
  5. Torches
  6. Firestarter
  7. First-aid medical kit
  8. Knife
  9. Matchbox
  10. enough food and water.

Renting gear can be more cost-effective for backpackers who only backpack sometimes and don’t need a storage area. Carry your trail running shoes for the adventure.

Shoes &Boots

Have sturdy boots or shoes to protect your feet from bruises and irritation from rough wilderness terrain before your excursion. In addition, they offer good traction in a rugged, steep, slippery, damp, and muddy environment. Additionally, hiking boots must be sturdy and provide adequate stability.

A durable shoe that won’t fail you during the trail is what you need for a backpacking trip. Shoes for long-distance backpacking should be sturdy and, ideally, light. Most of the time, people take long hikes in their shoes because they are light, breathable, and consume less energy with every step.

Plan your meals.

Planning “what you are going to start eating” is essential to getting ready for backpacking trips. You’ll be able to have fast, simple, delicious, and nutrient-dense meals on the trail if you eat food that has been thoughtfully balanced and planned. Group meals according to the day they should be eaten while packing. It’s critical that you know exactly where items are while on your trip.

Backpacking trips.

The very last and most crucial step is to travel and enjoy yourself! Ensure you have all the gear, trekking poles, and food you’ll need for the trip, especially if it’s your first time going on backpacking trips. Most people have a few minor mishaps as beginners.

The training program

The training program

Start your training early enough before your next backpacking adventure. Allow yourself at least 12 weeks to get your significant muscles into form. Challenge yourself to improve and advance at a healthy pace. It offers you enough time for any modifications to your training progress.

If you missed some exercise due to illness, aches, or pain, this would be the right time to get back in shape. Below are activities that you should do :

  • cardio exercise. While on the trail, backpackers must engage in exercises that elevate breathing, heart rate, and blood flow across the body. These activities enhance the performance of the heart, lungs, and circulatory system.
  • Muscular stamina. Backpackers spend a lot of time on their feet, so you’ll need to have a strong foundation of muscular endurance.
  • It would help if you combined exercises involving the right and left legs. It would also help if you alternated between pulling or pushing, rotating or resisting, and doing all these things simultaneously.
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Upper body strength training

To improve your balance, do strength exercises for your upper body, manage your poles, and pack on rocky terrain. You may gain core strength with these workouts. The Ab wheel is one exercise you should do. Achieving more stability over your torso is a benefit of training your abs. It is vital while trail running through rocky or hilly terrain since you must swiftly change your center of gravity.

Elevation gain.

You should understand the vertical distance you cover throughout your exercise. Preparation for elevation gain is essential on a long hike or backpacking trip. If you are a novice backpacker, you will have fun on your big trip if you keep your distance and moderate elevation. Try to keep your hiking days at least 7 miles long with 250 to 400 feet of elevation gain and loss.

Going uphill makes it challenging to defy gravity, which is why increasing elevation gain is good for your heart. Traditionally, an altimeter—a device that calculates your elevation gain—is used to determine this measure.

The altimeter and a high-precision accelerometer are coupled for optimal accuracy and dependability. The hike could be very long and acquire a lot of elevation gain. The walk is challenging due to the high inclines, frequent uneven terrain, and rock scrambles.

Anyone can prepare for a backpacking event. You might run into boulder fields, rocky, uneven terrain, and issues with elevation gain. You should be ready to go to maintain your health and avoid getting hurt.

Why should you train before the backpacking trip?

Why should you train before the backpacking trip

Many backpackers place a high value on their first backpacking outing; for many, a training program comes to mind. However, there is a lot of strength training for backpacking available. Some of the training is very simple, while others are more complex, difficult, and engaging. You can select the approach that you believe is best for you. The following are the primary reasons for training before embarking on backpacking adventures:

Training helps you hike safely.

To avoid injuries on the trail, train for backpacking early enough. After a trip, the majority of people typically endure persistent foot, knee, or back problems. Getting proper strength training is essential to conquering these problems.

You can avoid a significant, catastrophic injury such as a break or sprain. Another critical reason for training hikes is to prevent injuries from fatigue. Overly exhausted people find it challenging to focus, make poor decisions, and react slowly after a multi-day hike.

High chances of success

Training cardio exercises in the gym or at your own place is beneficial because the body adjusts to physical stress and can benefit. This way, you’ll be ready for what comes next, which will feel good physically and mentally.

If you’re planning a longer, more difficult expedition, proper backpacking fitness will enhance your chances of finishing it! If you put all this time, effort, and money into a once-in-a-lifetime challenge, you should do weight training and give yourself the best chance of succeeding!

Have a better experience backpacking.

For you to enjoy every moment of your trip, train well. If you have followed the necessary backpacking training plan and are fitter, you may gaze up at the stunning scenery, converse comfortably with your trail running companions, and thoroughly enjoy the entire trip.

Backpacking Training Exercises

Backpacking Training Exercises

Training hikes before your first backpacking trip can help you find success on your adventure. It will also allow you to push yourself and get in your best physical shape. Take some time to plan the best training routine that works for you, and then implement it once your trip is over.

Active body parts during the backpacking training schedule include:

  • Lungs
  • Heart
  • Heart
  • Legs
  • Ankles 
  • Shoulders


Squats are an excellent way to tone and strengthen your legs, back, thighs, and core for long hikes. Squats help you maintain a balanced position in your legs while also improving communication between your brain and muscles, preventing you from falling. Squats before the trip will help prepare your major muscles for pack weight.

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Squats will also enable your knees to stay strong. It is essential because it is estimated that 80-90 percent of ankle injuries are caused by a strain or break of your knee ligament cartilage while squatting on uneven terrain. Robust legs are crucial for remaining mobile while moving. 

Here are some guidelines for doing squats:

  1. Begin the exercise while in a standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart and in a straight line.
  2. Bend your knees, place your weight on your heels, and sit back slightly. Flip your hands down your thighs until your elbows are level with your knees.
  3. Maintain that posture for 4-6 seconds.
  4. Return to standing by rising back up, pressing through your heels, and straightening your hips.
  5. Rep this process 15 to 20 times more. Perform these at least twice a week.


With the help of lunges, nearly every muscle in the lower body can be shaped and strengthened. The lunges help strengthen and balance the legs, hips, and core. Lunging down a hill aids in the development of downhill hiking strength.

How to make lunges while training

It is critical to practice lunges correctly. It is vital to avoid huge strain on your joints, potentially leading to injury. A proper lunge should look like this:

  1. Maintain a straight upper body, relaxed shoulders, and a chin-up.
  2. Maintain one leg forward while lowering your hips until both knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Check that your knees are parallel to your ankles.
  3. Ensure that the other knee does not come into contact with the floor.
  4. Keep your weight on your heels.
  5. Switch legs and repeat the same process.

Lunges for stability and balance.

Lunges are excellent lower-body training exercises because they work independently or with other exercises on each side of your body. Single-leg movements engage your stabilizing muscles, which helps you develop balance, coordination, and stability, which is crucial for backpacking adventures.


Before going on a long-distance backpacking expedition, do step-ups to familiarize yourself with pacing. They are an excellent way to lose weight, increase muscle growth, and stay fit. While doing step-ups you burn more calories quickly and raise your heart rate.

Advantages of doing step-ups before backpacking.

  1. These exercises can help you gain leg strength by activating muscle groups in your lower body, such as your quadriceps and hamstrings.
  2. They also help with stability. During the movement pattern of step-ups, your core and back muscles act as stabilizers.
  3. Step-ups can help to balance out strength imbalances. They work equally on both sides of your body, bringing attention to muscle imbalances.
  4. Step-ups are adaptable. Perform this training at your own pace while adding or removing weight and changing the height of the elevated surface used during the workout.

Hip Role Exercises

Hip Role Exercises

Doing hip roll exercises before going on a backpacking trip is crucial to avoid injuries to your lower back, hip, knee, and ankle. Hip roll exercises can help you gain flexibility, reduce pain and injuries, and strengthen your core muscles. You will enjoy your tip-top shape during the backpacking adventures.

How to do Hip Role Exercises

  1. Begin by lying on your back, bent knees, feet flat on the surface, hip distance apart.
  2. Palms down, arms by your sides.
  3. To begin the training, take a deep breath.
  4. As you exhale, slowly lift your spine off the surface till it reaches your shoulder blades.
  5. Breathe in to maintain the posture.
  6. Exhale, and slowly lower yourself back down to the surface.

Cardio Exercises

Even if you have no particular physical illnesses, getting your heart in shape before the big trip can be beneficial. Cardio exercises are excellent training for your heart before hitting the trail. Set cardio days to do this training and improve muscle endurance, making you stronger and better prepared for the anticipated pack weight. Also, exercise while wearing your shoes to get used to them.

Bike, swim, run, or go for a walk.

These are all examples of cardio exercises. Try to alternate between these for 35-45 minutes each time.

Run or walk.

Exercising on sand can help strengthen your knees, arches, and calves while also burning calories.

Run or walk.

Add some weight to your workouts.

Use a weighted pack on your walks, starting with at least 15 pounds and gradually increasing the weight. It is beneficial because you’ll most likely be carrying extra weight containing your ten essentials on your trip.

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Heal-Down Exercises

Prepare yourself for your trip and prevent muscle soreness after traveling for a month or more. Perform heal-down exercises before a backpacking journey to avoid injury, maintain muscle health, and increase circulation. Heal-Down strength training exercises help improve movement and versatility and reduce harm while doing daily tasks on the rocky trails. 

These backpacking fitness exercises improve blood circulation, oxygen levels, and nutrient delivery before the trip while lowering stress and anxiety.

How to do heel-down exercises

Begin by standing on the upper side of a step, balanced on your right foot and your left foot to the side.

Lift your left foot’s toes, then bend the knees as you gradually lower your left leg until your left heel is barely touching or poised just above the ground.

Return to the starting position by pushing up with your right foot.

Practice this exercise for 20 rounds on one side, then 20 rounds on the other side.

Lift Exercises

It is beneficial to do lift training before going backpacking or doing other outdoor activities. The most important reason is to give you leg power to enable you to manage more weight. These exercises improve leg and hip power, flexibility, and stability. These strengthening exercises allow your muscles to be robust and increase your body’s ability to burn fat.

You’ll naturally increase your metabolism while training and having fun. Furthermore, it will allow you to carry your backpack more comfortably, which is crucial when backpacking because you must sustain long distances in rough terrain.

Tips for doing lifting exercises

Prepare yourself for a great workout. A quick 5-minute jog or a brisk walk will boost blood circulation in the body and prepare it for good training.

Begin with light weights. Start with one or two sets of 10 to 15 repetitions and gradually increase to three groups or more.

Increase the pack weight gradually. Increase the weight by 5 to 10% once you can quickly complete the suggested number of sets and reps.

Stretch your muscles gently after your workout. Stretching can help you become more flexible.



Pushups are an excellent exercise for hikers since they help build muscles that can improve overall performance on steep hiking exercises. Once you’ve mastered the standard pushup, you should increase the number of training rounds for a more effective workout. The heavy pushup is a terrific exercise to help you achieve your objectives.

A solid plank position is the first step to good pushup form. Your feet should not be more than 12 inches apart, and your arms should completely extend your palms, elbows, and shoulders. Your spine should remain neutral during the pushup movement, so your body is straight from head to toe. To keep your hips level and flat, don’t forget to contract your thighs and core.

Here are the steps to do pushups.

  1. While training, kneel on the floor and spread your hands out, so they are wider than your shoulders.
  2. Extend your arms and legs so that they are straight.
  3. Bend down until your chest is almost parallel to the stable surface.
  4. After pausing, lift yourself back up.
  5. Go through the exercises again and again.

Calf Raises/Heel Dips

When training for backpacking, the last issue you want to deal with is leg pain or discomfort. Calf raises and heel dips are workouts that strengthen and build the lower leg muscles, increasing your stability, power, and versatility. However, while these two exercises may be challenging for some people training for the first time, they are critical when backpacking.

How to do Calf raises exercises.

  1. Stand upright, raising your heels gradually while maintaining your knees extended (but not locked). While standing on your toes, lift your heel and descend slowly to the starting point.
  2. Relax for a few seconds while still on your toes. 
  3. Bring your heels down to the floor to return to where you were.

Calf raises are, therefore, one of the most convenient exercises to incorporate into your daily training routine. When preparing for hiking or backpacking trips, carry them out whenever and wherever.

Treadmill-inclined exercises

The treadmill running exercises are essential in increasing your muscular endurance, which is the capacity of a muscle to exert a significant portion of its maximum force over a prolonged period without becoming weary.

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The Advantages of a Treadmill Incline Workout

  1. An incline local gym session on your treadmill prepares you for an upcoming steep incline hike. It gives a better understanding of what to anticipate mentally and physically. It increases endurance for long walks through the mountainous regions or woods. If you have joint problems, incline treadmill training can help.
  2. Inclined treadmill exercises Increase lower leg muscle activation. Several muscles reside in your lower leg, including leg muscles and shins. These muscles are activated when you move from a flat surface to an incline. When backpackers do their training, the incline mills activate the peroneal musclesStrengthening your leg muscles and getting ready for an outdoor hike with incline treadmill workouts keeps you safe during the trip.
  3. Your muscles can only function to their greatest extent if your cardiovascular system is in good shape. Your endurance will increase if your heart is robust. Incline treadmill training gives you a great workout by raising your heart rate.

Before commencing this or any other training schedule, consult with your doctor. It helps to ensure that the physical activity you want to participate in is safe for your body, depending on your current health and fitness level.

Altitude sickness by backpackers

Altitude sickness by backpackers

Altitude sickness happens when you rapidly ascend to a high altitude. You will experience the symptoms when your body attempts to adapt to the low-pressure region and oxygen levels found at high altitudes. Some people may experience these issues simply by visiting a high-altitude location.

Altitude sickness is made worse by dehydration. You are 2 to 3 percent dehydrated when the thirsty response kicks in. Create a drinking schedule and keep track of your intake to ensure that you stay hydrated even when you’re not thirsty. Medication can assist with the symptoms of altitude sickness, but the only cure is to descend. Seek medical advice before using it.

Mental aspects of training before backpacking trips

Mental aspects of training before backpacking trips

Everyone can benefit from mental resilience for their mental health, from the casual day hiker to the backpacker setting out. Mental health is not just for runners. You can practice being mentally tough on and off the trail. In this manner, your brain will assist you the next time you go on a backpacking trip.

Here are some suggestions for practicing it as well as for learning it.

Have a Purpose 

Be prepared if the situation gets tricky. Understanding your “why” could indeed help. “Ask yourself, ‘Why do I want this trip ?'” “Perhaps you should not push yourself so hard if you just want to enjoy nature.” If you’re there to reconnect with friends you haven’t seen in a while, focus on that. Allow your intention to direct your journey so that you enjoy the experience.

Goal Setting for Backpacking fitness

When planning a trip on the trail, breaking it up into smaller goals can be very impactful. It allows you to focus on a small, manageable goal at a time. Mark a tick every time you complete a target. You will feel better about yourself and get the mental boost you need to keep going!

Keep a Journal

Having a journal assists you to examine your day’s events while backpacking or after any tough day. Consider how your day went after the trip. Note down all that went well or wrong throughout the day so you can maintain or change it for the next time.

Also, make a record of what you’re feeling; doing so forces you to be more visible, which improves the overall experience. Furthermore, journaling can help you remember the trip better. When you look back at it later, your memories of pre-trip training and long trips will be stronger, and you will appreciate it more.

Backpacking takes commitment and concentration but establishing a training program that helps you to plan is critical. It includes exercises like squats, strength training, and a lot of cardio, which will excellently prepare you.

The terrain, long hike, long-distance climbing days, and the severity of the trail all require a lot of training, whether this is your first backpacking tour or you’re a seasoned climber. If you train well before your trip, you’ll definitely enjoy your dream and achieve your goals.

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

A bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

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