What to Do After Backpacking

Sunburned, bug-bitten, fatigued–I know the feeling after getting home from a backpacking trip. But there’s a few things you just have to do before putting bags of frozen peas on your knees and ordering that pizza!

Dry, Dry, Dry

Our bannister after a typical dry backpacking trip.

If any dampness got on any gear–clothes, sleeping bag, or tent–immediately get those airing out and drying once home. When you spend hard-earned money on pricey gear, keeping mold out is crucial! In a big house or yard, it can be easy to re-pitch a tent, but in an apartment or smaller spaces, it can be difficult. I’ve seen pictures of some ingenious people who drilled hooks on their flat apartment ceiling to hang their tent upside-down from, but we just shove the couch aside or park outside and pop the tent in the garage with the door cracked for a day or two to get things dry. This needs to be done if there was rain or condensation. Even if we stayed dry, we still air out everything by hanging them over our bannister.

Also get any bladders or water filter bags drying ASAP as well. While sometimes pots and dishes can wait a bit, moldy water can have some serious consequences, so get those emptied fully and hanging. I usually shove some tongs or a big plastic spoon in my bladder to allow it to air dry without any water trapped inside. Some people pop theirs in the freezer to dry as well, but I have a smaller freezer, so stick with gravity and air to do my work.

First Aid

Any cuts, scrapes, blisters, or other ailments should be tended to at home, before infection can set in. While you should always have a first-aid kit on the trail, changing dressings and applying Neosporin once home in a more sterile environment can be vital. If you hiked in an area with ticks, checking yourself (and any canine friends!) for ticks now is wise too.

Replace & Replenish

If you used anything from your first-aid or bathroom kit, be sure to replace and replenish while it is still fresh on your mind. Ditto for any batteries in headlamps, empty fuel cans, or spent sunscreen bottles. You wouldn’t put an empty gallon of milk back in the fridge, so don’t put away empty gear–you’ll thank yourself later! Any rechargeable headlamps, lighters, etc. should also be given a full re-charge now that the gear is handy.

What did we Learn?

Every backpacking trip I have done has been a learning experience, but I need to remember to note what that lesson was before I forget! Sometimes it’s adding gear to my packing list I forgot, or adding gear to my wish list I saw others use; sometimes it’s noting if I had enough food or slept too cold and need to change packing next time accordingly. Each time There’s something new to apply to the next trip!


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