How To Survive Your First Backpacking Adventure

By Jackelyn Ho

Don’t get me wrong – I’m a huge outdoors lover. I am oddly obsessed with the National Park Service, I love to outdoor rock climb, and I own a trusty 64L backpack that got me through a 2.5 month Southeast Asia trip. Yet for some reason, I have always been shy to go on a real backpacking trip. You know, one where you only have what you pack in your bag and, um, go to the bathroom in not a bathroom. Eeek!

The biggest reason I think I’ve been so hesitant to go backpacking is because I had no clue on what to do. I didn’t know how to properly pack my bag, plan a long backcountry hike, or start a fire. The craziest part? I didn’t want to ask. I guess I’ve just been waiting my whole life for a specific trip to change my mind. Lucky for me, that happened sooner rather than later.

The amazing team at LUNA Bar partnered up with Trail Mavens, a local company that hosts backpacking adventures for women and teaches them the ABC’s on how to master the outdoors. LUNA did an incredible job of choosing an inspiring weekend girl squad and the 14 of us all went from being complete strangers to absolute best friends within 36 hours. On top of that, I left with an eager mind and a long bucket list of the adventures I wanted – no, needed  – to embark on next. If that’s not a powerful weekend, I don’t know what is.

Here are a few snapshots and must-know tips from the weekend. All images were taken by the incredibly talented Simone Anne.

A proper tent set-up is key. How do you make yours the best?

  • Find a flat ground to build your home for the night. Can’t find anything completely flat? Then angle the tent so that your head will be uphill and your feet downhill. If it’s any other configuration, you won’t be able to sleep.
  • Keep the zippers zipped up while you’re setting up. This prevents little bugs from crawling in while you’re constructing your kingdom. Plus, if you’re pulling tight on an unzipped tent, it’ll be pretty difficult to zip up once you’re all done. But speaking of a tight tent…
  • That’s exactly what you want. After you’ve placed in the poles and staked the tent to the ground, tighten that baby up! A taut tent is key to a sturdy home base. Plus, Trail Maven’s founder Sasha Cox said it just looks way better. You got it, girlfriend!

Build a collapse-proof and trusty fire in the style of the Flaming V.

  • Grab two hefty logs and place it in the fire ring to make a “V”.
  • Place small, flammable pieces of tinder within the V. In this scenario, we ripped up tiny pieces of newspaper, but you can also use brush or dry grass.
  • On top of the V, place medium-sized items like large twigs, small branches, or tightly twisted cardboard. Lay that across the V, as if you were creating a bridge.
  • Light the tinder on fire with a lighter. Feed the fire with oxygen and more tinder as needed until the fire heats up and catches onto the large logs. Once the logs get hot, continue to nourish your fire with more logs. Remember to douse out the fire before shutting down for the night.
  • Pro tip: Fires are best enjoyed with your girlfriends and a rockin’ campfire guitar session.

Enjoy yourself and find inspiration in the people you’re with and the beautiful world you’re living in. 

  • I am so thankful that I was able to meet 13 amazing and thoughtful women from around the Bay Area. I don’t know when we’ll all ever get to experience that together again, but I know that for a moment in time, we crossed paths for a reason. We spent 36 hours being vulnerable, honest, and silly, and I’ll take those feelings into every single backpacking trip moving forward. That is one of the most comforting things that I know to be true. Gosh, I love what the outdoors can do to one’s soul.