I didn't see a general for this so I'll start my own thread. Let me know if I should post elsewhere.
I have never backpacked in my life and my hiking experience maxes out at short day hikes. I am going to buy a pair of hiking boots soon and I have a hiking stick, but 0 other equipment.
I have been thinking about renting some backpacking gear and then going on an overnight camping trip (two days of hiking total - maybe one night out, one night back, an easy trail because I'm extremely out of shape) with my girlfriend this summer likely somewhere around Pennsylvania.
I'd rent a backpack/tent/cooking gear from some site like this.
I realize I'm paying a lot of money for such a short use, but I don't want to buy $500 or more worth of gear and only use it once if I hate it or something.
Chances I get mauled by a bear in the woods, catch some terrible parasite because my water filter is shit, or die?
Anybody have advice for an absolute beginner?
Is this a good way to get into backpacking?
eh, for $250 with careful craiglist/internet deals/consignment store shopping you could put together that whole kit except for the tent by summer, and then it's yours to keep. then if you're worried about bugs or rain just rent the tent for $30.
if at all possible make friends with a real person who's backpacked at least a few times before, and have them take you on an overnighter. it'll be way less miserable, but no less memorable.
I probably only have 1 friend who has ever even been on a day hike, I don't think I know anybody who has been backpacking. Such is the life of a city slicker.
Tips to avoid being miserable? How bad could it be besides bugbites or getting wet?
>Is this a good way to get into backpacking?
Sounds all right if you're tolerant of mild discomfort. Unless it's winter or otherwise horrible weather it's hard to completely fuck up an overnight. Even the cooking gear isn't strictly necessary, I've done impulsive 2 day trips on a jar of peanut butter, a loaf of bread and a bag of apples. Though bacon and coffee in the morning is quite nice.
Car camping is another way to ease into it, you can bring more comforts or even sleep in the car if it monsoons. Might be a bit less risky if bringing the GF if she isn't too outdoorsy.
>Chances I get mauled by a bear in the woods, catch some terrible parasite because my water filter is shit, or die?
Are any of those a known issue where you're going? You have to follow certain rules about how you store food in bear country, but if you do, the chances are close to zero.
>Anybody have advice for an absolute beginner?
Always break in new boots before you wear them on a long hike.
That's sort of what I figured, pretty hard to fuck up a short hike where i'll probably be in cell coverage the entire time because there's no chance of freezing to death or starving or something.
I've been car camping before, my GF has not. Perhaps that would be a good place to start.
And I don't know about parasites of bears around PA, I'd have to read some guides online or by a book.
I'll definitely break in my boots by wearing them to work.
probably not terrible if you plan well and settle down to set up camp at a reasonable time. setting up for the first time in the dark blows. likely you'll just end up carrying a bunch of shit you don't need. experience will pare that down.
>how do you bring bacon
If you're car camping for a night or two put it in a cooler.
If backpacking, it depends on the bacon and ambient temperature. I've had properly cured slab bacon on multi day canoe trips in late fall, but I'd avoid the sliced water packed supermarket stuff in mid summer.
>I've been car camping before, my GF has not. Perhaps that would be a good place to start.
I suggested it because it seems like you're really asking two questions, "how to first time wild camp" and "how to first time camp with GF". The answer to the first is "just do it, one night almost certainly won't kill you and you'll learn a lot from your mistakes".
The answer to the second is more tricky and depends on your GF, but when introducing noobs to camping it's generally best to minimize "challenges" and "adventures" on the first trip so as not to turn them off.
Get the Walmart 2 person tent for $20. For $250, you could easily put together a kit that is yours, as well as give you time to familiarize yourself with it before your trip.
I also suggest bringing a wide mouth bottle like a Gatorade for a designated pee bottle so you don't have to get up in the middle of the night.
I know you said you're going with your gf, but I advise you go with another male the first few times to see if you like it.
Girls can be ridiculously high maintenance outdoors, and you being confident in your ability and expectations would give you a much better chance at making sure she has a good time.
Check amazon and woot for deals on gear. Read reviews, and whenever you can, find a store to inspect the gear, and compare prices.
Quite honestly you need to car camp 1st.
You'll have everything you need safely stored away from animals. If you F* up you'll be able to run out and get it.
Use that a few times as a way to learn before heading /out.
You'll be far better prepared when you do go backpacking innawoods