An outdoor activity wherein a backpacker packs all of his or her gear into a backpack. This gear must include food, water, and shelter, or the means to obtain them, but very little else, and often in a more compact and simpler form than one would use for stationary camping. A backpacking trip must include at least one overnight stay in the wilderness (otherwise it is a day hike).Many backpacking trips last just a weekend (one or two nights), but long-distance expeditions may last weeks or months, sometimes aided by planned food and supply drops.
Backpacking camps are more Spartan than ordinary camps. In areas that experience a regular traffic of backpackers, a hike-in camp might have a fire ring and a small wooden bulletin board with a map and some warning orinformation signs. Many hike-in camps are no more than level patches of ground without scrub or underbrush. In very remote areas, established camps do not exist at all, and travelers must choose appropriate camps themselves.
Most backpackers purposely try to avoid impacting on the land through which they travel. This includes following established trails as much as possible, not removing anything, andnot leaving residue in the backcountry. The Leave No Trace movement offers a set of guidelines for low-impact backpacking ("Leave nothing but footprints. Take nothing but photos. Kill nothing but time. Keep nothing but memories").
People are drawn to backpacking primarily for recreation, to explore places that they consider beautiful and fascinating, many of which cannot be accessed in anyother way. A backpacker can travel deeper into remote areas, away from people and their effects, than a day-hiker can.
However, backpacking presents more advantages besides distance of travel. Many weekend trips cover routes that could be hiked in a single day, but people choose to backpack them anyway, for the experience of staying overnight.
Backpackers spend more,travel further and stay longer than other travellers. The backpacking sector in NSW is about attracting more adventurous and independent international travellers into regional areas, through the development of more 'must see and do experiences.
Backpacking is a term that has historically been used to denote a form of low-cost, independent international travel. Terms such as independent travel and/orbudget travel are often used interchangeably with backpacking. The factors that traditionally differentiate backpacking from other forms of tourism include but are not limited to the following: use of public transport as a means of travel, preference of youth hostels to traditional hotels, length of the trip vs. conventional vacations, use of a backpack, an interest in meeting the locals aswell as seeing the sights.
The definition of a backpacker has evolved as travelers from different cultures and regions participate and will continue to do so, preventing an air-tight definition. Recent research has found that, "...backpackers constituted a heterogeneous group with respect to the diversity of rationales and meanings attached to their travel experiences. ...They also displayed acommon commitment to a non-institutionalised form of travel, which was central to their self-identification as backpackers.
Backpackers face many risks, including adverse weather, difficult terrain, treacherous river crossings, and hungry or unpredictable animals (although the perceived danger from wild animals usually greatly exceeds the true risk). They are subject to illnesses, which run thegamut from simple dehydration to heat exhaustion, hypothermia, altitude sickness, and physical injury.
The remoteness of backpacking locations exacerbates any mishap. However, these hazards do not deter backpackers who are properly prepared. Some simply accept danger as a risk that they must endure if they want to backpack; for others, the potential dangers actually enhance the allure of the...