By Michael Lanza

Wilderness backpacking opens new worlds to us. While dayhiking can bring you to many beautiful places in nature, walking for days through the backcountry, carrying all you need on your back, inspires a liberating sense of self-sufficiency and solitude as you escape the crowds to explore places most people never see. This article lays out in 12 detailed steps all you need to know to plan a wilderness backpacking trip that’s safe and enjoyable for everyone on it.

More than three decades (and counting) and thousands of miles of backpacking all over the United States and around the world have convinced me that most of the success of any backpacking trip depends on how you plan and prepare for it. Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned backpacker, you’ll learn new tricks for planning a backpacking trip of any length from this article, which draws from my experience as Northwest Editor of Backpacker magazine for 10 years and even longer running this blog.

Having made just about all the backpacking mistakes you can make when I was a newbie years ago and read about countless accidents, I will tell you this: “Epics” and accidents often result from bad planning or a simple lack of awareness of potential problems and hazards. That’s entirely avoidable.

I’d love to read what you think of my tips or any tricks of your own that help you plan your trips. Please share them in the comments section at the bottom of this story. I try to respond to all comments.

Click on any photo to learn more about that trip.


Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. Click here for my e-guides to classic backpacking trips. Click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

A backpacker in the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River in Yosemite in Yosemite National Park.
” data-image-caption=”Todd Arndt backpacking the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne in Yosemite. Click photo to learn how I can help you plan a trip in Yosemite or elsewhere.
” data-medium-file=”https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Yos12-049-Grand-Canyon-of-the-Tuolumne-River-Yosemite-NP-CA-copy.jpg?fit=300%2C199&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Yos12-049-Grand-Canyon-of-the-Tuolumne-River-Yosemite-NP-CA-copy.jpg?fit=900%2C598&ssl=1″ width=”900″ height=”598″ src=”https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Yos12-049-Grand-Canyon-of-the-Tuolumne-River-Yosemite-NP-CA-copy.jpg?resize=900%2C598&ssl=1″ alt=”A backpacker in the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River in Yosemite in Yosemite National Park. ” class=”wp-image-16445″ srcset=”https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Yos12-049-Grand-Canyon-of-the-Tuolumne-River-Yosemite-NP-CA-copy.jpg?resize=1024%2C680&ssl=1 1024w, https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Yos12-049-Grand-Canyon-of-the-Tuolumne-River-Yosemite-NP-CA-copy.jpg?resize=300%2C199&ssl=1 300w, https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Yos12-049-Grand-Canyon-of-the-Tuolumne-River-Yosemite-NP-CA-copy.jpg?resize=768%2C510&ssl=1 768w, https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Yos12-049-Grand-Canyon-of-the-Tuolumne-River-Yosemite-NP-CA-copy.jpg?resize=1080%2C717&ssl=1 1080w, https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside

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