By Michael Lanza

I doubt that I had any typical routine when arriving at a campsite on my earliest backpacking trips; like many backpackers, I probably just dropped my pack, shucked off my boots, and kicked back until motivated to move by the urge to eat, drink, get warm, or go to the bathroom. Over the years, though, I’ve developed a routine that I follow almost religiously when I arrive in camp at the end of a day of backpacking. These five simple, quick, almost effortless steps make a world of difference in how good I feel that evening and the next morning, and how well I sleep.

These tips derive from habits I’ve gradually adopted over more than three decades and innumerable backpacking trips across the U.S. and around the world, including 10 years as Northwest Editor of Backpacker magazine and many years running this blog. These are practices I’ve followed in every type of environment and on every type of trip, from easier outings with my family when our kids were young—although it didn’t always feel “easier” carrying much of our children’s gear and food—to extreme adventures backpacking 20 to 30 miles per day.

Follow these tips and I think you’ll make your campsite hours—and backpacking trips as a whole—more comfortable.

Click on any photo to read more about that place, and please share your thoughts on my tips, or any tips or regular practices you have when you get into camp on backpacking trips in the comments section at the bottom of this story. I try to respond to all comments.


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 cooling off in the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River, in Yosemite.
” data-image-caption=”Todd Arndt cooling off in the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River, in Yosemite. Click photo to read about that trip.
” data-medium-file=”https://i2.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Yos12-034-Todd-Grand-Canyon-of-the-Tuolumne-River-Yosemite-NP-CA-2.jpg?fit=300%2C199&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i2.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Yos12-034-Todd-Grand-Canyon-of-the-Tuolumne-River-Yosemite-NP-CA-2.jpg?fit=900%2C598&ssl=1″ width=”900″ height=”598″ src=”https://i2.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Yos12-034-Todd-Grand-Canyon-of-the-Tuolumne-River-Yosemite-NP-CA-2.jpg?resize=900%2C598&ssl=1″ alt=”A backpacker cooling off in the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River, in Yosemite.” class=”wp-image-44970″ srcset=”https://i2.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Yos12-034-Todd-Grand-Canyon-of-the-Tuolumne-River-Yosemite-NP-CA-2.jpg?resize=1024%2C680&ssl=1 1024w, https://i2.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Yos12-034-Todd-Grand-Canyon-of-the-Tuolumne-River-Yosemite-NP-CA-2.jpg?resize=300%2C199&ssl=1 300w, https://i2.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Yos12-034-Todd-Grand-Canyon-of-the-Tuolumne-River-Yosemite-NP-CA-2.jpg?resize=768%2C510&ssl=1 768w, https://i2.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Yos12-034-Todd-Grand-Canyon-of-the-Tuolumne-River-Yosemite-NP-CA-2.jpg?w=1200&ssl=1 1200w” sizes=”(max-width: 900px) 100vw, 900px” data-recalc-dims=”1″ />Todd Arndt cooling off in the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River, in Yosemite. Click photo to read about
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