You check the temperature, the weekend highs read a beautiful 60 degrees. Maybe, by some, this would still be considered bundle up in front of the T.V. weather, but you get ready to lace up those boots and hit the trails.
Something about inhaling that fresh, crisp air makes the thirty pounds strapped to your back seem lighter; You are greeted by chirping birds and soft winds. The empty path (courtesy of those who haven’t yet pulled out of their winter slump) is yours for the taking. However, you know that as you gain elevation you’ll find you haven’t quite escaped the snow yet.
Fear not, despite miles of soggy trails and chilly nights, here are some tips to share to make the most of those early spring backpacking trips.
Wear synthetic materials
It is highly likely that, if you are hiking in the mountains, you will be crossing through any combination of mud, snow, and dewy vegetation. It’s pretty hard to avoid collection moisture along the way. Cotton and other natural fibers will absorb water much more quickly and hold onto it longer. Stick with nylons and polyesters; they dry fast, wick moisture, and even provide better UV protection.
Try out trekking poles
Slippery trails are certainly a concern with spring backpacking. If it’s late enough in the season, you may not want to deal with crampons or snowshoes. Poles provide that extra stability where traction may be of concern. Not only do they help you manage wet terrain, but they offer really great benefits for the knees and back. Some people use them year-round, just one trip you can feel a difference.
Don’t breathe in the bag
With the still low temps you will almost certainly be experiencing, it can be very tempting to nuzzle into your sleeping bag. Unfortunately, this traps moisture inside, which reduces the effectiveness of the insulation. Opt to throw a hot water bottle in your bag to help warm up and cinch the bag in so you can breathe out of it.
Stay bear aware
One of the best things about springtime is all the new life that can be seen. With this, though, comes bear season. If you are headed to a bear area, make sure to follow all the proper precautions: don’t cook where sleeping quarters are set up, and keep food high up. Scent-proof bags can be purchased relatively cheap and are reusable. If frequent visits are made to bear country, it might be smart to invest in a bear canister. They may not be the most exciting piece of gear to buy, but you can’t put a price on peace of mind.