Replace Your Tired, Worn-out Hiking Schedule with this Alternative

Our traditional daily backpacking schedule is well-known.  It’s described in books and shown in movies.   In the book, A Walk in the Woods, the two main characters meet Mary Ellen while eating dinner in camp.  How many outdoor movie campfire scenes show campers eating in camp? 

 Image by Jeff Edwards

Image by Jeff Edwards

What if you were to switch some of the daily activities around?  What if your daily hiking schedule broke up your walking more, giving your legs more frequent breaks?  Consider such a schedule.

 Image by Jeff Edwards

Image by Jeff Edwards

The benefits to such a daily schedule would be many.

  • The main activity of walking is broken up more frequently than a traditional backpacking daily schedule.  This alternative schedule means you could start to walk earlier in the day and finish later in the day.
  • No longer are morning and evening meals limited to a campsite.  You could stop at a lake for breakfast, cook lunch at an overlook, and eat dinner at a waterfall.
  • Refrain from eating in camp.  This approach is especially important while traveling in bear country, but the rule also helps with rodents and insects.  Many backpackers would still choose to hang a bear bag, but the scent of food in camp should be significantly reduced.
  • The biggest meal of the day could be lunch. Pull out all the cooking gear and prepare, eat, and stow the gear during the middle of the day, all the time resting your legs for the afternoon’s hike.
  • The last meal of the day, dinner, could be light.  You could eat, brush teeth, filter water, and prepare your bear bag while resting in the late afternoon.
  • When backpacking during shoulder season, the sun seems to set early.  The last meal of the day could be eaten in sunlight.

Trailiac describes some elements of this alternative daily hiking schedule in the video bulletin, Stealth Camping Tips.

How have you altered the traditional daily backpacking schedule?  What benefits have you realized?