This article concentrates on taking practical steps to make you better prepared for your backpacking adventure. Planning and specific tools such as a map and compass will be a tremendous asset to you. The knowledge you gain from your planning will help improve the odds in your favor for safety and an overall better experience. These fundamentals will aid you before you hit the trail, on the trail itself, or both.
Use sound practical judgment that is independent of specialized knowledge, training, or the like. This is the dictionary's definition of what we have come to know as common sense. Planning your outing completely will be of great benefit to you. Your planning stage should be in two parts; first is the actual planning itself and secondly is communicating those plans to family and friends. Upon completion of your planning you need to provide loved ones with instructions. Information to provide should contain a copy of your map with hi-lighted route, stopping points, return date, and approximate day and time you will connect with them. Take your planning very serious because it can affect three areas when on your trip; attitude, security, and having a good time. If you complete your homework you will find it helpful and reassuring before and while on the trail.
Three items that are essential and I would advise not to leave home without; map, compass, and emergency whistle. Now if you are unsure how to read a map or use a compass then take the time to learn because they can help you whether you are hiking on or off the trail. While you are hiking stay alert at all times and pay close attention to your surroundings. Every now and then you should turn around and orient yourself to your map. These are precautionary steps that can improve your chance of not getting lost. If there is a group of you hiking together then it is also important to keep track of each other. A good rule of thumb is not to lose site of the person in front or behind you.
Continue to stay focused and keep your eyes open because at times there will be other trails leading off the one you are on. This happens to be another significant reason to have your map, it ensures you of staying on the right trail. Use all of your instincts, knowledge, and training when you run into unexpected circumstance which includes, but not limited to weather, uncertainty of a trail or a climb. For example; if a sudden storm comes upon you, do not press on, instead pitch your tent and wait till the storm passes. As mentioned earlier use common sense because ignoring it would be ill-advised and could have fatal consequences. If you do get lost always remember not to panic and use your emergency whistle.