Backingpacking is the perfect opportunity to escape the harsh, modern world and reconnect with nature. That being said, there are a few ground rules to keep you — and others around you — happy, responsible and safe. Before you embark on your next backpacking trip, here’s a few things to keep in mind:

Do carry a few emergency items. There’s no need to be paranoid, but a few medical supplies, spare food rations, emergency communications devices and pieces of self-defence equipment are a must for any backpacker. You should also consider a lightweight, compact solar generator to keep all the aforementioned charged and ready for anything.

Don’t neglect your health. You won’t be able to shower as much as you’re used to, but you should be able to keep your body and mind healthy on your trip. Pack floss, a toothbrush, any medication you need and keep your overall wellness in mind while you’re on your trail.

Do practice some discretion when packing. If you’re not positive you’re going to use or wear something. Leave it at home. It’ll keep your pack light and keep you moving.

Don’t overwork yourself. Don’t push yourself past your limit simply to meet an arbitrary day or time of arrival. Your goal is to complete the trip and enjoy yourself. You won’t do either if you end up suffering from exhaustion or fatigue.

Do pack backup fire and power. Even if you have a ignition stove, there’s a chance it won’t start. Have a spare lighter or waterproof matches to have just in case. They’re compact, lightweight and could prevent you from freezing and starving. Bring a small backpacking solar charger, as well. You never know when you’ll need it.

Don’t forget to factor in moisture. Whether it’s rain, snow or sweat, your gear will be threatened by moisture. Pack rain or snow gear if it’s typical in the area your backpacking in, and definitely don’t forget to keep your pack dry at all costs. Otherwise, you risk having a pack of soggy clothes and food.

Do be aware of your surroundings. Backpacking includes staying in places many would consider desolate and dark. That means you should be extra diligent about knowing where you are, what the climate is like, what animals are likely living nearby and what your closest town is. Do some research ahead of time and mark the places you know are safe for campers. Be sure to mark some in-between locations as well for the days when you need to stop short.

Don’t freak out if your plans change. You’ve likely set an itinerary for your backpacking trip, and that’s a good thing. Sometimes, however, things change. Weather, health, sanity and more will throw a wrench into some of your plans and will likely alter when you stop and where you stay. Such is life. Solar panel kits can help obtain and store power for those days where the rain seems to be going nonstop.

Do learn how all of your gear works. Learn the ins and outs of every tool you’re bringing with you. Manuals take up valuable room in your pack and, at the end of a long day, the last thing you’ll want to do is spend hours tinkering with your stove or setting up your tent. Practice at home multiple times so it becomes like second nature to you.

Don’t lose your senses. When you’re backpacking, you need to keep your wits about you at all times. You’re dealing with unforgiving forces of nature, wild animals, strangers and more. Keep your head on straight.

Do lookout for others. Backpackers have an unwritten code, and it includes helping each other out when necessary. If someone shares their trail food with you or helps you when you’re lost, say thank you and pay it forward.

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