|Adequate trip planning and preparation helps backcountry
travelers accomplish trip goals safely and enjoyably, while simultaneously
minimizing damage to the land.
Poor planning often results in miserable campers and damage to natural
and cultural resources. Rangers often tell stories of campers they have
encountered who, because of poor planning and unexpected conditions,
degrade backcountry resources and put themselves at risk.
Why is Trip Planning Important? You may want to add additional
answers to this list:
- It helps ensure the safety of groups and individuals.
- It prepares you to Leave No Trace and minimizes resource
- It contributes to accomplishing trip goals safely and enjoyably.
- It increases self-confidence and opportunities for learning more
Seven Elements to Consider When Planning a Trip
- Identify and record the goals (expectations) of your trip.
- Identify the skill and ability of trip participants.
- Select destinations that match your goals, skills, and abilities
- Gain knowledge of the area you plan to visit from land managers,
maps, and literature.
- Choose equipment and clothing for comfort, safety, and Leave No
- Plan trip activities to match your goals, skills, and abilities.
- Evaluate your trip upon return note changes you will make next time.
Other Elements to Consider: When Planning a Trip You may want
to add your own ideas to this list:
- private land boundaries
- average hiking speed of group n anticipated food consumption
(leftovers create waste which leaves a trace!)
- group size (does it meet regulations, trip purpose and Leave No
- all Leave No Trace principles
Meal Planning: Meals are another element to trip planning that
can have a profound effect on the impact a group has on a backcountry
Benefits of Good Meal Planning:
- Reduced trash.
- Reduced pack weight, resulting in faster hiking times and less
- Reduced dependence upon campfires for cooking.
One-Pot Meals and Food Repackaging:
- Planning for one-pot meals and light weight snacks requires a
minimum of packing and preparation time, lightens loads and decreases
garbage. One-pot meals require minimal cooking utensils and eliminate
the need for a campfire. Two backpack stoves can be used to cook all
meals for large groups if you have two large pots (one large pot can be
balanced on two stoves when quick heating is desired). Remember, a stove
Leaves No Trace.
- Most food should be removed from its commercial packing and placed
in sealable bags before packing your backpacks. Sealable bags secure
food and reduce bulk and garbage. Empty bags can be placed inside each
other and packed out for reuse at home. This method can reduce the
amount of garbage your group must pack out at the end of the trip and
eliminate the undesirable need of stashing or burying unwanted trash.
What are Some Examples of the Results of Poor Trip Planning?
- A group that is inexperienced or unfamiliar with the geography of an
area may put people at risk by traveling through areas susceptible to
flash floods or along ridge tops vulnerable to lightning activity.
Groups traveling arid lands often fail to carry adequate water or a way
of purifying water from natural sources. Checking with local land
managers and studying maps and weather conditions can contribute to a
- A poorly prepared group may plan to cook meals over a campfire only
to discover upon arrival at their destination that a fire ban is in
effect or that firewood is in scarce supply. Such groups often build a
fire anyway breaking the law or impacting the land simply because they
have not planned for alternatives. Fire bans and scarce wood supplies
are signs that an area is experiencing the cumulative effects of heavy
- A group that has failed to develop good travel plans may be unable
to travel as fast as ex ed. The terrain may be too steep or the trails
too rugged. These groups often resort to setting up camp late at night,
sometimes in an unsafe location. Poor campsite selection usually leads
to unnecessary resource damage. In addition, the group may never even
reach their planned destination.