Backpacking in an Arid Environment

By on June 19, 2014

There are a lot of different environments to go backpacking in, some are more dangerous than others (winter backpacking being the most dangerous, if you’re interesting in winter hiking tips click here). So I would like to give some tips about backpacking in an arid or desert climate that may help you.

First and foremost over plan for water, I’ve been on backpacking trips in Zion National Park where a friend underestimated how much water he would need, and ended up being incredibly tired and thirsty by the end of the hike, everyone pitched in as best they could but all of us had to conserve. So if you’re going, make certain you take plenty of water.

Know Where Additional Water Sources Are

If you’re going to be backpacking in the desert find out beforehand if there are any additional water sources. Some hikes have plenty of them, whereas others only have a handful, and some have none. So don’t go in blind, do the research and know where the water sources are and what it will take to access them.

We recently did a backpacking canyon in Escalante Utah named Coyote Gulch, it’s an incredible canyon that offers multiple arches (Stevens Arch is the most famous as seen in the video above) and alcoves and swimming holes. What I also love about the canyon is there are a couple of natural springs right where the camp grounds are that are absolute lifesavers. Yeah you could filter water out of the stream, or you could drink some naturally filtered water.

Know Your Backpacking Limits

HavasupiKnow what you are capable of before backpacking in environments that are harsh. Even those who are physically fit sometimes don’t take into account how draining the sun can be in these places. How quickly your body can be drained of the energy it didn’t know it would need. So be prepared and be ready for the demands of backpacking. The weight of a pack is also something most are not really prepared for.

Last summer we backpacked down into the Grand Canyon to Havasupi, we began the hike at about 2 am (you hike in the dark there because it gets so hot during the day it’s miserable) and didn’t get to the falls until about 6 am. Now the hike to it is nearly all downhill so I thought it would be a breeze, but when I arrived at the campsite I hadn’t been that drained in a long time. My pack was heavy and I was unprepared for it. Luckily I made it back out just fine, but I did learn a lesson, know your limits and be prepared beforehand.

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