Backpacking: Hiking with sleepovers

So, you’ve been enjoying your walks in the woods and maybe you’re wondering what it might be like to stay a bit longer—overnight, even.

We can help you.

Ever since I wrote Backpacking North Carolina in 2011, I’ve been on a mission to dispel the myths of backpacking. Like the idea that you have to sleep on the cold, hard ground, eat beans out of a can, and hike 20 miles a day with 60-pound pack on your back.

The experience we teach with our GetBackpacking! Intro to Backpacking program introduces you to lighter equipment, advances in food-preparations, and reasonable mileage goals. This four-week program is designed to turn the backpacker-wanna-be into a confident, competent backcountry explorer. Here’s how the program works:

Class One: We discuss gear and how to properly pack a pack. We then strap on our properly packed pack and hike two miles to get a feel for hiking with weight (about half that 60 pounds!) on your back.

Class Two: In full pack, we hike two miles, scout good campsites, and set up camp. We discuss what to look for in a good campsite and what to avoid. Then, we break down camp and hike two miles out.

Class Three: In full pack, we hike in about three miles and cook a meal, going over the different types of stove and food options. We pack up, discussing Leave No Trace ethics, and hike three miles out.

Graduation Weekend: The fourth week, we hold a Wednesday planning meeting to go over our graduation weekend — the route, logistics, the weather, special equipment we may need. Then, on Friday we leave for a two-night trip to South Mountains State Park, where you’ll get a chance to practice your newfound skills.

About the gear: If you don’t have everything, don’t worry. We have a limited number of loaner tents and backpacks. Not having a cookset isn’t a deal-breaker, either. The main gear you’ll need are a good pair of hiking shoes or boots and trail-friendly clothes — basically, what you wear to hike.

To ensure that everyone gets individual attention, each session is limited to 12 participants.

We have three sessions scheduled for fall, two in the Triangle and one in the Triad.


Session 1: Training, Sept. 10, 17 and 24; graduation trip Oct. 6-8. Learn more and sign up here.

Session 2: Training, Oct. 15, 22 and 29; graduation trip Nov. 3-5. Learn more and sign up here.


Details to be posted soon. Keep an eye on GetHiking! Triad for details.

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Backpacking North Carolina

Backpacking North Carolina covers 43 backpack trips throughout the state, including the Piedmont and the coast. Most of the trips are beginner friendly, and many embrace the “base camp” concept: hike in a relatively short distance (usually less than 5 miles), set up base camp, do day hikes from there. Learn more about the book here.

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