The recent expeditions to Kilimanjaro that I led included a number of people who were relative, or total, novices when it comes to backpacking and trekking. This was refreshing for me, because it made me look at certain things from a novice’s perspective again. As one’s experience builds, sometimes we forget and take for granted the sum total of our knowledge and what seems obvious to one person is a voyage of discovery to another.
Here are a couple of tips for the novice backpacker, based on some things that cropped up during the trek.
Stuff-sacks. These are sacks for stuffing things in and they work really well if you do just that – stuff stuff. For sleeping bags, you are onto a loser if you try rolling the sleeping bag neatly and then sliding it into the stuff sack. Stuff it! Take the foot end of the sleeping bag and just start stuffing it in. It will all fit in eventually, I promise.
Ruck-sacks. The weight should be on the hips, not the shoulders. I wrote about how to achieve this in an earlier tip.