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PA Hiking Trails

Website Est. 2005


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Learn the Secrets of Backpacking in a Few Moments!

Page Table of Contents
What is Backpacking?
Should I Hang My Food at Night Before Bed?
Points to Remember at Camp
Equipment Needed to Hang Your Food
How Do I Hang My Food?
     Throw it Over a Tree Branch!
     Hang it Between Two Trees!
     Counterbalance Method!
     Pacific Coast Trail or PC Method!

What Equipment Should I Consider Taking on a Backpacking Trip? When Backpacking Never Forget to...
What Type of Food Should I Bring?
What is a Calorie?
Remember to...
Backpacking Checklist
Day Hike Checklist
Tips on Lacing Your Hiking Boots

* Click on any of the links to be taken directly to that piece of information

What is Backpacking?

I would define backpacking as, going out on an outdoor excursion for one or more nights carrying only the necessary survival items needed for the adventure.

Should I Hang My Food at Night Before Bed?

YES! I would recommend it, but this is your call. There are all kinds of wildlife out there such as: Black Bears, Raccoons & Mice to name a few (and remember, you are in their home). I would hate to wake up to some animal ravaging my pack or my stuff sack in the middle of the night, especially if it's day one of a three day hike!

Points to Remember at Camp

Equipment Needed to Hang Your Food

How Do I Go About Hanging My Food?

There are a few basic methods of hanging food out in the wilderness. I will do my best to briefly explain them in the order of 1-4 with four being the most time effective & the lightest.

Throw It Over a Tree Branch!

  • Its exactly that! Throw your rope over a tree limb, roughly 15-20 ft. in the air.
    • The limb should be thick enough that a bear can't snap it off if he were to step on it & thin enough that a cub can not climb out onto it, but you take what you can get out there!.
    • Hook your stuff (food) sack to the rope.
    • Pull it up the tree branch
      • The optimal position is 5 ft. from top of branch,
      • 5 ft. from side of trunk of the tree (make sure it is a big enough tree that a bear can' t knock over!) &
      • 10 ft. from the ground
    • Tie the loose end of the rope to another tree.
      • This is not the recommended way (raccoons and bears are smart & mice can chew) but,
      • This is the easiest Method (not the best).

Over the Limb Method

Between Two Trees Method!

  • Throw your rope over one branch (15-20 ft. up) and tie it off,
  • Throw the other end of the rope over another branch (15-20 ft. up), pull it taunt & tie it off to base of the tree.
    • The second tree should be 15-20 ft. away from the first tree.
  • Throw the second rope over the taunt horizontal line you just hung.
  • Hook your stuff sack filled with food & garbage to line and pull it up to your horizontal first rope.
    • Your food bag should be at least 10 ft. off the ground.
  • Tie off the second (food bag) rope to second tree trunk or throw it over the first rope.
  • Your food bag rope should be able to move freely on the first rope.

Between Two Trees Method

Counterbalance Method!

  • You will need (2) two stuff sacks with equal weight in them. Obviously food or even rocks to counterbalance the second bag.
  • Throw your rope over a tree branch (15-20 ft. up & 5ft. out on the limb).
  • Hook your food on the rope.
    • Pull your food bag up to the limb or about 5ft. from the top of the limb (depends on tree, the rope and the situation, you will see understand when you actually have to do it).
    • Hook the second food bag or rock bag to the rope. Push up as high as you can.
  • Stuff the extra rope in it or on the bag, but leave enough dangling down with a loop in the end, so that you can retrieve in the morning with a stick.
  • Take a stick and push the second bag up the limb, until the two meet and are counterbalanced on the limb (hence counterbalance method).
    • Remember to leave extra dangling so you can retrieve the bag in the morning.

Counterbalance Method

Pacific Crest Trail Method!

  • Throw your rope over a tree limb (roughly 15-20 ft in the air).
  • Hook your food sack to the rope using a carabiner.
  • Put the rope through the carabiner.
  • Pull your food bag up to the top of the tree branch.
  • Find a small stick, maybe 3" in length & a 1/2" in diameter.
  • Reach up the rope as high as you can with your twig in your hand & tie a clove hitch using the rope. Wrap up any extra rope, but leave enough line dangling down with a loop in the end, so that you can retrieve in the morning with a stick or your hiking pole. Now let go of the rope, the food bag should stop when the carabiner. and the stick meet.

Pacific Crest Trail Method

FYI: Remember the Tree Specs when hanging your food and garbage: 15-20 ft. up, 5 ft. out & 5 ft. down from the limb. Good Luck! I have also heard of mice running down ropes, so you may even want to punch a hole in the middle of a plastic coffee lid and slide it down the rope to a knot roughly a foot from the food bag.
Note: I recommend you practice each one of these methods prior to the real thing. Guestimating the distances to tie off knots, ropes, stuff sacks may vary depending on the tree, so practice before you use it on the trail.

What Equipment Should I Consider Taking on a Backpacking Trip?

Equipment Essentials

  • Backpack (padding & comfort is important)
  • Pack Cover (waterproof of course)
  • Tent (minimal size is plenty sufficient)
  • Hammock & Tarp (if you prefer over a tent)
  • Light (LED head lamps are awesome)
  • Extra Batteries
  • Matches & Small Fire Starter Sticks
  • Cotton balls dipped in Vaseline
  • Compass
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sleeping Pad (barrier between you and ground is important, especially in cold temperatures)
  • Water Filter (Level 2 or better)
  • Hydration Pack or Water Bottles
  • Camp Stove w/bottle & fuel (not always allowed to make a fire, especially during the dry season)
  • Mess Kit (titanium if possible, very light)
  • First Aid kit (small travel size with main essentials)
  • Ace Bandage (in case of a more severe injury)
  • High Pitch Whistle
  • Watch
  • Multi-Purpose Tool or Knife
  • Nylon Rope (40 - 50 ft.)
  • Stuff Sack (air-tight and/or regular)
  • Cell Phone (you never know)
  • License (maybe small cash or CC for emergency)
  • Bug Repellent
  • Map
  • Guide Book (if the trail has one)

Equipment Extras

  • Hiking Poles
  • Digital Compact Camera
  • GPS Unit w/ Extra Batteries
  • Elevation Profile
  • Camping Permit (sometimes mandatory)
  • Carabiners (smaller is better)
  • Small Log Book (for the memories)
  • Travel Cards
  • Lateral Thinking Puzzles
  • Dish Towel
  • Bear Mace

Do Your Research

  • Know the weather forecast for your hike!
  • Know where the water is!
  • Study the terrain!
    • Can you make the estimated mileage needed to a water source before dark or before tiring?
  • Inform someone where you are going and when you will be back
  • Be safe and hike with someone

Clothing Essentials

  • Wicking Material Only! (cotton does not breath or dry effectively like wicking material does, also friction is greatly reduced with wicking clothing)
  • Wicking Pants (possible short/pant combo)
  • Wicking T-shirt (long too if needed)
  • Hat or Bandana (bugs)
  • Head Net (bugs)
  • Hiking Boots (remember you get what you pay for. I recommend Gore-Tex)
  • Lightweight/breathable rain top (bottom possibly)
  • Wicking Socks (i.e. Smart Wool)

 Clothing Extras

  • Sandals
  • Undergarments
  • Sock Liners
  • Pack Towel
  • Wash Pack Towel (rinsing off in the run feels amazing!)
  • Camp Pillow
  • Sunglasses

Bathroom Stuff

  • Usual Bathroom Stuff (or not)
  • Travel Size everything!
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Poop Shovel (proper etiquette)

Meal/Food Items

  • Plastic ware
  • Anything lightweight (no cans, etc.)
  • Dry Meals for Dinner work great (search the net)
  • Prepackaged Items for Lunch work great too
  • Plastic/ziplock bags (they do come in handy)
  • Water (know your hike prior and water levels, you do not want to run out of water out on the trail!)

Meal/Food Ideas

  • Tortillas,
  • tuna packets,
  • squeezable pudding,
  • crackers,
  • oatmeal cups,
  • dehydrated food,
  • beef jerky,
  • trail mix,
  • etc...

When Backpacking Never Forget to...

What Type of Food Should I Bring?

What is a Calorie?

Remember to...

Backpacking Checklist

Backpacking Checklist

Item Wt.oz. Trip1 Trip2   Other Wt./oz. Trip1 Trip2
Backpack       Book (Lateral Thinking / Trees / Tracks      
Hiking Poles       Bug Spray / Bug Palm / Skin-So-Soft      
Pack Rain Cover       Camping Permit (if needed)      
Lighting Wt.oz. Trip1 Trip2 Cell Phone w/charged battery      
Batteries       Chapstick      
Head Lamp       Compass & Map Tool      
Led Keychain Light       Digital Camera / Battery / SD Card      
Matches / Firestarter Sticks       Digital Camera Bag / Tripod      
Cotton Balls in Vaseline       Dry Bags (Bear Bag & Camera Bag)      
  Elevation Profile      
Tent Wt.oz. Trip1 Trip2 GPS w/charged batteries      
Tent / Rain Fly / Footprint       Guide Book / Topo Map / DCNR Map      
Tent Poles / Stakes       Gun / Bullets / Holster      
  Hand Sanitizer w/case      
Hammock Wt.oz. Trip1 Trip2 Heat Packs      
Hammock       Hiking Book w/pen      
Fly / Guy Rope       Leatherman      
Stakes / Bag       License / Gun Permit      
Sleeping Wt.oz. Trip1 Trip2 Mini Playing Cards / Dice Game      
Camp Pillow       Money / Credit / AAA / Insur. Card      
Fleece Blanket       MP3 Player w/headphones      
Sleeping Bag       Rope / Cothesline      
Sleeping Pad w/stuff sack       Shovel      
  Strap Its      
Eating Supplies Wt.oz. Trip1 Trip2 Sunglasses w/micro-fleece case      
Camp Stove       Uploaded Tracks & Waypoints to GPS      
Camp Stove Fuel Bottle w/fuel       Watch      
Dish Towel / Dry Towel       Whistle      
Hydration Pack        
Mess Kit w/extra cup       Clothing Wt.oz. Trip1 Trip2
Nalgene Bottle       Bandana / Hair Tie      
Plastic Bags / Garbage Bag / Baggies       Base Layers (Pants / Shirt)      
Spork       Bug Net      
Water Filter w/attachments       Clothes for Car & Sneakers      
  Dry Fit Long-sleeved Shirt      
Food / Drink Wt.oz. Trip1 Trip2 Dry Fit Short-sleeved Shirt      
Apple Sauce / Fruit Cup       Fleece Shirt / Pants / Flannels      
Banana Bread / Brownies / Treats       Gloves / Ear Cover / Winter Hat      
Granola or Protein Bars       Hiking Boots      
Beef Jerky       Hiking Pants w/safety pin      
Chicken or Tuna Salad       OR Hat / Camo Had      
Crackers       Rain Gear      
Dry Food / Freeze-Dried Meals       Sandals / Camp Shoes      
Fruit Roll-Up / Fruit Snacks / Sweets       Socks / Sock Liners      
Gatorade       Underarmour / Columbia Jacket      
Hot Chocolate or Chai       Underwear / Bra      
Jelly Packets / Marshmellow       Winter Pants      
Oatmeal Cups        
Peta Pockets / Sandwiches       Bathroom Stuff cont.. Wt.oz. Trip1 Trip2
Pretzels / Crackers & Cheese       Glasses w/case      
Pudding /Jell-O       Ibuprofen / Tylenol      
Soft Taco Shells / Torillas       Inhaler      
Trail Mix or Nuts       Mirror      
Water       Pack Towel w/rip cord      
  Paper Towel for contacts      
Bathroom Stuff Wt.oz. Trip1 Trip2 Snake Bite Kit      
1st Aid Kit / Safety Pins       Toilet Paper / Tissues      
Ace Bandage / Knee Brace       Toothbrush / Toothpaste / Floss      
Benadryl / Hydrocortisone Cream       Tums      
Brush       Vitamins      
Deodorant       Wet Wipes / Face Wipes / Packet      
Extra Contacts / Solution / Case / Bag       Itinerary emailed to Family & DCNR      
* FYI: This list is just a guide * Adjust your list accordingly. Hope this helps!

--> Backpacking Checklist <-- Excel Document for Download

Day Hike Checklist

Day Hike Checklist

Item Wt.oz. Trip1 Trip2   Survival Supplies Wt./oz. Trip1 Trip2
Day Pack       1st Aid Kit / Safety Pin      
Hiking Poles       AAA / Ins. Card / Gun Permit / License      
Pack Rain Cover       Bandage / Knee Brace      
Lighting Wt.oz. Trip1 Trip2 Cell Phone w/charged battery      
Batteries       Compass & Map Tool      
Head Lamp w/batteries       Credit Card / Money      
Keychain LED light       Elevation Profile (trail specific)      
  Emergency Blanket or Bivy      
Food Supplies Wt.oz. Trip1 Trip2 GPS w/batteries      
Bags / Black Garbage Bag / Baggies       Guide Book (trail specific)      
Gatorade or Electrolyte Tablets       Gun / Bullets / Holster      
Hydration Bladder       Heat Packs      
Nalgene Bottle       Hiking Book w/pen      
Paper Towel       Mace      
Spork       Map (Topo & DCNR, trail specific)      
Water       Matches / Vasoline-dipped Cotton Balls      
Water Purification Tablets       Multi-purpose Tool      
Food / Drink Wt.oz. Trip1 Trip2 Snake Bite Kit      
Apple Sauce       Strap Its      
Beef Jerky       Sunglasses w/soft case      
Bread       Uploaded Tracks & Waypoints to GPS      
Chicken or Tuna Salad       Watch      
Cheese & Crackers       Whistle      
Fruit Roll-ups or Snacks        
Granola / Protein Bars       Clothing Wt.oz. Trip1 Trip2
Jell-O / Pudding       Bandana / Hair Tie / Wristband      
PB & Jelly       Bug Net      
Sandwiches (lunch)       Dry-fit Long-sleeved Shirt      
Soft Taco Shells or Pita Pockets       Dry-fit Short-sleeved Shirt      
Trail Mix / Nuts       Ear Covers / Beanie / Gloves      
  Fleece Shirt or Flannel / pants      
Bathroom Stuff Wt.oz. Trip1 Trip2 Hiking Boots      
Benadryl / Hydrocortisone Cream       Hiking Pants w/safety pin      
Bug Spray / Bug Balm / Skin-So-Soft       Rain Gear      
Chapstick       OR Hat / Baseball Hat      
Hand Sanitizer w/holder       Socks / Sock Liners      
Ibuprofen / Tylenol       Water Shoes (if needed)      
Pack Towel w/rip cord       Geocaching / Computer Stuff Wt.oz. Trip1 Trip2
Small Mirror       Digital Camera / Battery / SD Card      
Toilet Paper / Tissues       Digital Camera Case / Tripod      
  Dry Bag for Camera      
* FYI: This list is just a guide Laptop / Power Inverter      
* Adjust your list accordingly. Hope this helps! Palm / Geocaching Items      

--> Day Hike Checklist <-- Excel Document for Download

Tips on Lacing Your Hiking Boots

Below you will find various techniques for lacing your boots
to help alleviate foot issues depending on the problem.

regular lacing

<---   Regular Lacing

A typical lace in which your laces are criss-crossed to the top and then tied off.


Heel Slippage   --->

To prevent your heel from slipping, criss-cross your laces normally and when you reach the top, form a "lace lock" as shown.

heel slippage
toe problems

<---   Toe Problems

If you have hammer toes, corns, or nail problems, lace your shoes so the top-box area is lifted. This will help to relieve pressure in that area.

High Arch   --->

Lace your shoe so that the shoelace travels in a straight line from eyelet to eyelet. By avoiding the crisscross, you remove pressure points on the tongue of the shoe which often causes pain to the top of the foot.

high arch
narrow or wide heel problems

<---   Narrow Heel and/or Wide Forefoot

Use two sets of short shoelaces, one to lace the bottom three eyelets, and the second to lace the top eyelets. For a good heel fit with no slippage, use the "lace lock" technique at the top.

Pain on the Top of Your Feet   --->

If you have pain on the top of your feet, leave a space in the lacing to remove pressue.

top of foot pain

* Secure lacing lends itself to a better fit, which improves comfort, performance and safety for hiking

* Generally speaking your hiking boot size will be .5 sizes larger than your sneaker size

* The above information was discovered on the Internet. The author is beyondthetreeline (I think?)


* I found this searching the Internet. Its by a guy named beyondthetreeline.

Questions or Comments?: Please feel free to email me, I would appreciate them, Thanks!

*Please, if this site as helped you in anyway and you would like to give back, donate by clicking the link found on the bottom left navigation bar. It takes many hours to update, post, check the data and its accuracy. Any contributions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you! Last Updated On:  August 6, 2013

*Please remember, the information posted on this page and all other pages can & probably will change. I assume no liability for accidents happening to, or injuries sustained by, readers who engage in the activities posted on my entire website including links. Remember, you are responsible for your own actions, please understand conditions on the trail, in the woods or on the river can/will change due to mother nature. Please don’t assume I know all there is about such topics, unfortunately I do not. I am just posting my travels and opinions experienced out in the wilderness. I encourage you to read further and look to reliable resources like the PA Game & Fish Commission and the PA DCNR. Thank You.