Backpacking is a pleasurable but physically strenuous opportunity to escape the routine everyday life and relish the outdoors. If you want to focus more on the fun of backpacking rather than the effort, it is important to take time for physical preparation beforehand. Backpacking fitness training ensures that you have the physical endurance and strength you need to get to where you are going, as well as stay safe on the way.
According to the principle of sport specificity, you get better at a particular activity by practicing that activity. Therefore, one of the best ways of building fitness for backpacking is to engage in the activity frequently. For effective backpacking fitness training, you will need to decide on which elements of backpacking you wish to get better at, and then begin simulating those activities.
No matter the intensity and length of the backpacking trip you are on, you can expect to walk for a few miles daily. Long day-hikes are an ideal way of fine-tuning your footwear and building up your hiking endurance, getting a feel of any problem areas before walking miles away from any remedy. In addition, hiking allows you to identify your abilities and comfort level on irregular terrain.
If there are no hiking trails available, you can use carry out your fitness training in a gym. The stepmill is perfect for simulating an uphill hike, which is one of the most challenging aspects of backpacking travel. Stair climbers are also popular for simulating the feel of hill-hiking.
Though hiking helps in preparing for the walking part of any backpacking trip, you will also need to prepare your legs to carry the weight of the pack. Weigh yourself with and without the pack on, and then subtract the two figures to find the weight of the pack. Once you have an estimate of how much gear you can carry on a typical outing, you could either do your climbing or hiking training with a full pack, or invest in a weight vest which weighs as much as your full pack. Using the weight vest during activities such as hiking or climbing stairs can help your legs get accustomed to the effort of carrying a full pack.
Balance and Core Training
Strong abdominal, hip and back muscles help protect you from injuries as you maneuver your pack over, around and under obstacles. Balance training gives you the agility you require to navigate uneven terrains with minimal risk of falling, twisting an ankle tripping. The two usually go hand-in-hand since good coordination and core strength is vital for maintaining balance.