Here are some general things to keep in mind when planning a backcountry trip:
- Permits. In many parks, overnight hiking and backcountry camping require a permit.
- Camping Etiquette & Special Regulations. Follow the basic rules of camping etiquette: Pack out all your trash, including uneaten food and used toilet paper. Camp in obvious campsites. If pit toilets are not available, bury human waste in holes 6 inches deep, 6 inches across, and at least 200 feet from water and creek beds. When doing dishes, take water and dishes at least 200 feet from the water source, and scatter the wastewater. Hang food and trash out of reach of wildlife, use bear-proof containers, or follow other park rules to keep wildlife from human food.
- Footwear. Be sure to wear comfortable, sturdy hiking shoes or boots with good ankle support that will resist water, if you're planning an early season hike.
- Sleeping Bags. Your sleeping bag should be rated for the low temperatures found at high elevations. Most campers are happy to have a sleeping pad.
- Water. If you're not carrying enough water for the entire trip, you'll also need a good purifying system, because that seemingly clear stream is filled with bacteria likely to cause intestinal disorders.
- Your Pack. The argument rages about the merits of old-fashioned external-frame packs and newer internal-frame models. Over the long run, the newer versions are more stable and allow you to carry greater loads more comfortably; however, they also cost more. The key issue is finding a pack that fits well and has plenty of padding, a wide hip belt, and a good lumbar support pad.