Training for Backpacking: How to Get in Shape

The summer months are quickly approaching and it's time to get serious about training for backpacking. If you want to get into shape for your big summer backpacking trip you'll want to follow the advice below.

Even before you begin conditioning or training for backpacking you've got to increase your activity. This could be as simple as riding a bike to work, walking to the store, walking on your lunch break and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. If you don't get a lot of exercise in your daily routine, start slow and try to increase your movement.

training for backpacking

Training for Backpacking


As you begin a backpacking training program, you'll want to remember these key factors for conditioning for backpacking:

  • The best way to train for backpacking is to go backpacking. Start with short hikes and slowly add longer distances, more elevation climbs and increase the weight on your back. Running, cycling and swimming are all great ways to get into shape but it's important to train the muscles and tendons you will be using on your backpacking trip so get in as many hikes as possible.

  • Hit the stair climber or step class. Hiking and backpacking take a lot of time. Choose exercises at home or the gym that will fit into your schedule but still condition the same muscle groups you will use when backpacking.

  • Hike with a loaded pack. Load your backpack up with the weight you plan to bring on the trail and start by carrying it on a short hike. By getting used to carrying weight on your back, you'll train the muscles in your back, shoulders and core plus you'll get a feel for how the backpack will really feel on the trail.

  • Try weight training. While you don't need bulky muscle mass for backpacking, overall fitness and conditioning will help you avoid injuries on the trail.

  • Start early and increase the intensity of your training slowly. If you wait until the last minute, chances are you'll be huffing and puffing on the trail. Give yourself plenty of time to get into shape before you go backpacking and be careful not to injure yourself while conditioning for the actual activity.


Follow these tips for training for backpacking and you'll be in the proper physical condition for your backpacking trip. Proper conditioning is as important to a successful backpacking trip as good planning and having the right gear. Take your backpack training seriously and you'll have more fun on the trail.

Do you have any other tips? Enter them in the comments below.
Andy Hawbaker
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Andy Hawbaker
Andy is a hiker, backpacker, snowboarder and outdoor fanatic. When he isn't exploring the Rocky Mountains, burning marshmallows or scratching his dog behind the ear, he shares his experiences here on the Sierra Trading Post Blog.
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