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Beginner's Guide on Women Backpacking: Tips to Make Your Trek Better

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Hiking isn’t just something for men to conquer or an outing with the family anymore. There are so many women out there gearing up and getting ready to head into the wilderness. Their stories are adventurous and inspiring enough to make the dreamers wake up and pack a bag. No matter where you find inspiration, the feeling of being on a trek with a backpack and the open trail before you is enough to get you hyped up and pumping adrenaline. It is a truly empowering, soul-nourishing, and even spiritual experience of being in touch with nature. Women hiking does not differ from any other type and this backpacking guide can be used by anyone. There is an emphasis on women backpacking to inspire and tackle concerns that may come across on a hike which is more specific to women in general.

We will help you decide what to take and what not to, the essentials to keep on your trekking list, and more backpacking basics that will come in handy when you are on your hike. Whether you are a girl backpacker or an older woman who loves trekking, you can benefit from a few backpacking tips to guide your next hike. Without further ado, here is your custom guide and women backpacking tips!

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Gear Recommendations for Women Backpacking

It is very important to be prepared and have all the necessary equipment and items for your next trip. Take these tips seriously as they will really come in handy in the case of an emergency. You never know when a certain item that you packed could come in between you and a sticky situation. Regardless of your gender, you should consider these ten essentials to pack in your hiking bag. If you are new to backpack camping or women backpacking, then these essentials should be looked into more specifically.

women backpacking
Essentials gear while trekking

Camping and Hiking Gear

The essentials in backpack camping include tent gear, sleeping bag, stove, water filtration system, and repair tools. The first item you will need to have is a good women’s backpacking pack. The best type of unisex or girl hiking backpack would provide support to your back as well as cushion and comfort when you wear the straps on your shoulders. Do not over pack your backpack as this weight can be taxing on your body especially if you need to carry it for a long backpack camping trip.

Find a quality sleeping bag and if you look carefully you could find ones that are best suited to your needs like size, thickness, material, waterproof, and more. Portable stoves and water filter systems are essentials for long treks but for shorter treks they are not recommended as beginner backpacking gear. Taking repair tools is one of the women backpacking tips that you should definitely follow, these include tools that can repair a broken tent rod, tears in the tent lining, stove fire kits, sewing kits for sleeping bag repair, and so on.

Clothing and Boots

What you wear is an important part of the women's backpacking pack and you should ensure to dress according to the climate where you are planning to trek. If the area is humid or has frequent rainfall then ensure to bring raincoats, waterproof clothing and underwear. It is especially important to procure fast drying underwear so that you do not contract any infection or disease. Urinary and yeast infections are fairly common and attributed to moisture collected in near the genital region.

Your hiking boots are to be comfortable and well fitted in order to allow you to trek long distances and for many days at a stretch. Find a suitable brand that fits the description of your hike and pair it with the appropriate hiking socks.

hiking gear for women
Hiking gear for women (source)

Hygiene Items

The hygiene backpacking basics include hand sanitizer and wet wipes, these are essential to staying clean and preventing infection. However, there are certain items that every woman needs in their women's backpacking pack. These items are specific to women’s health and protection.

1.    Menstrual supplies: Hiking during periods can be troublesome, but that shouldn't stop you from hiking. Pack smartly and hike even during those days of the month. There are numerous women backpackers that use a menstrual cup over pads or tampons when they trek. This is because they are reusable, which means there is more space available in the backpack that would have been used for storing tampons. Carry a separate pouch for your hygiene products and another sealed bag for the waste to be disposed of.

2.    Pee funnel: This ingenious device allows women to urinate standing up. You do not need to remove your pant completely and can urinate almost anywhere conveniently. It comes in handy when you are camping in cold or rainy areas that are difficult to urinate squatting in. With practice, you could even pee into a bottle in emergency situations.

3.    Pee rag: The use of toilet paper is not always the best option when hiking outdoors for many days at a length. Many women hikers propose using a cotton cloth or bandana that can be rinsed and dried easily in the sun. You save on space and use an environmentally friendly alternative. Tie this cloth to the outside of your backpack for easy access.

hiking on periods with care
Pack properly for hassle-free hike

Safety Items

1.    Safety whistle: You can use one to scare off animals that come too close and if you are near any civilization then people can hear the whistle and react to help.

2.    Bear spray: You are hiking in the wild, so there are chances you can have an encounter with wild animals like bear. Thus, a spray especially suited to fighting off bear attacks. You can use the spray for other animal or human threats as well.

3.    Personal locator beacon: If you need extra protection while travelling alone or to sparsely inhabited locations, then you can get a beacon. There are models that have satellite messaging to notify friends, family, or authorities of any accidents and problems. Remember to keep at least one person you know well up to date about the itinerary you had planned so they know approximately where you can be found.

Mental Preparation

No matter what may come your way, remember to tell yourself that you can face it and prepared for multiple scenarios just in case. To be fully prepared for any mishap you will need to mentally picture yourself in that hypothetical case and figure out your plan of action. Our backpacking guide will help you image possible encounters or accidents that may happen to befall you but worry not, for we are here to advise you on dealing with multiple situations.

Human Encounters

Most of the hikers you may come across on a popular hiking trail happen to be friendly and approachable. They could turn out to be great companions on a trek if you like the company or they could become a nuisance. There is always the possibility of a stranger becoming overbearing, hostile, or clingy. In girl backpacking, especially on solo trips, there are certain people you can meet you may ruin the entire experience of hiking for you. 

Here are some women backpacking tips to help you be prepared and stay safe in uncomfortable or tricky situations:

1.    Try to avoid setting up camp near roads or trail pathways. Maintain at least a mile distance away from these to stay partially secluded from passersby. If the trail you have chosen has an official campground then camp there for the night.
2.    It is very important to stay clear of game trails. Do not camp or trek in these parts if you can help it as you do not want to run the risk of being shot at accidentally.
3.    Trust your own instincts. When you meet an individual and they give you bad vibes or make you feel uneasy for some reason then try to get out of the conversation. Do not disclose information about yourself, where you are planning to go, or where you will camp for the night. You do not need to say anything to them if you do not want to, simply make an excuse and be on your way. Perhaps tell them that you have to keep up your current pace, have a sudden attack of giardia or simply have to leave. Be confident and straightforward.
4.    If you are still worried about possible unwelcome encounters then you can try wearing a fixed blade or holstered knife on your belt. Wear it at a visible and easily accessible position on the belt and anyone who happens to comes across will probably think twice before messing with you.
5.    You can buy pepper spray and keep it ready attached to the outside of your backpack or in an outside pocket. This will also make you feel safer from possible attacks.
6.    Use your safety whistle in a situation that demands help. Three blows of the whistle are the universal call for help.

Animal Encounters

Before heading out on your trek it may be best to check and see what kinds of animals you can run into on the trail. Depending on that information you can decide what possible scenarios may arise. You should definitely learn to store food in airtight bear proof ways so that you do not attract any unwanted attention. Remember to carry bear spray if there are high chances of running into one on your trek. In addition to large animals on the trail, look at smaller species that can also pose a threat. Snakes, scorpions, even poisonous plants should be looked into before heading out on the trail. Learn the dangerous species, how to get away or rid of them and what to take when you have been bitten or poisoned. That way you can have the required anti-venom or remedy ready for when you get in trouble.

Read Trekking in the Himalayas: How To Avoid Himalayan Bear Attacks

Getting Lost or Injured

Our women backpacking tips include another set of essentials to keep on your person. These are GPS, compass, and maps. Topographical maps work best in the wilderness and prevent you getting lost on the trail. When you are on longer trails, make sure you have an escape route back to civilization in case of injury or illness.

Physical Preparation

The exertion you will be putting on yourself will be heavy over the course of your trek and can be extremely taxing on your body if you do not prepare beforehand. The distance of the trail, elevated slopes and climbs, as well as the heat or cold extremes, can really pull you back. To train for a backpack make sure to focus on cardiovascular fitness.

This is what a good workout plan looks like:

  • Cardio workouts (hiking, cycling, elliptical training, etc.),
  • Training hikes with a weighted backpack (increase weight and distance over time to build stamina)
  • Resistance workouts to build strength and stability
  • Also, before tackling a long-distance trail, practice short trips of at least a couple days.
  • For safety purpose, you can enrol yourself in self-defence classes and be safe on the trails. 
physical preparation for backpacking
Train yourself for the tough challenges

Embrace Your Feminine Side

The last of our women backpacking tips are to stay in touch with your femininity or perhaps comfort yourself during the trek. Feel free to add a bit of style and your own taste to your hiking outfit. Wear simple jewellery like small noninvasive earrings, a necklace or in the warmer climate you could even hike in a spots skirt. Some women like to shave on treks even if they are embarking solo, just to make them feel good. Do not hesitate to pamper yourself at rest stops or towns that you may pass by on your way. You deserve it!

You have spent all this time planning and mentally preparing yourself for the worst, so now you can finally let yourself go and hike your worries away! Remember what to bring on your next trek and what possible encounters you may experience on the trail. There is nothing left to do on your agenda but embark on the hiking trip and make it worthwhile.

Let us know if these hiking tips helped you out on your hiking trip and share your experiences and suggestions in the comment section below!

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