Backpacking enables you to explore places, gain new experience, understand nature. Moreover, it brings various benefits to your health. We could talk about the exercise that you get, discipline of preparation, development of endurance and patience. However, probably the most impactful aspect being in nature – low-stress environment.
You might know a quote by Scottish-American writer John Muir explaining what happens to you when you go into the mountains:
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity”
And the thing, what John Muir touches something important here, goes even beyond physical health – it is mental health. All of us have those times where we feel nerve-shaken. That is part of being in this over-civilized world, we are always surrounded by four walls. And when we get out in nature, we can begin to recover mentally and physically from the stress that surrounds us all the time.
There are some health issues our society tends to think of as irreversible, unsolvable issues. And yet, if you have one of those issues, do you ever spend time outside? Do you get out into the forest into the wilderness? If the research shows that getting into nature has this huge positive effect, then getting out into nature will have a hugely positive effect – on you.
It is not that backpacking is a miracle drug, activity. It is a more wonderful gateway to getting you outside. There are many various gateways on how to get out to nature. Backpacking is a great one.
When you go backpacking, you have an opportunity to hike over a long distance of miles with a bunch of weight on your back. And when the fast energy gets used up in the first few hours, the endurance has to kick in. And this is good for your health, for testing and using your endurance. Because you go for backpacking, you are able to walk for a long distance without wearing out. And this also has a holistic side to it, wherein life, in general, you can develop greater endurance. It might be, to get through a really tedious boring project that you have to do for a job. It might be to put up with something that is uncomfortable or even painful for a long period of time. So that physical endurance really ties over into other areas of life.
Usually, in your daily life, people have a lot of interruptions. In everyday life, a lot of your thoughts might pinball. Like a pinball machine, around your head – “I have to do this, and this”, “wait, first I need to do this…”. And all the thoughts constantly ricocheting around in your head. But when you get out into nature, you leave all of those things behind and you are able to think so-called “long thoughts”. Getting out for backpacking allows you to stop “pinball in the head” and enables to think “long thoughts”. It is fantastic for mental health.
Once people got into backpacking they are pretty often being exposed to the concept of minimalism. You reduce weight, you shave the grams, you only bring what you absolutely need, because you don’t want to carry any extra weight. There is sort of a necessity to lightening your load, but the minimalism itself as a way of thought bleeds into lots of other things. For example, it was because of backpacking many people we were introduced to minimalist footwear and it was like a paradigm shift. The more we take away from our feet, the more healthy our feet become. You can apply that in many ways for your physical health. And then again it translates over into other areas of our life. Like, how do you apply minimalism to the food that you eat? You seek products with a short ingredient list. The products with the shortest ingredient lists are more likely to be healthy because they are created with more whole natural food ingredients.
And you can apply the same principle of simplicity to your schedule and make sure that things in your life don’t get over-scheduled, over-complicated. And this is definitely coming from backpacking where you always face the same question “is this necessary?”
There are some things that could not be attributed to one specific aspect. Like when things are good in one area of life it bleeds naturally to the other area of life. When you get out, you have an opportunity to meet friends and benefits that aspect of my life. It gets you out outdoors and stays active, so benefits your physical side of life. And because of previously mentioned things, it affects the mental side of life. Everything is affected in a positive way when you get outside.
Synergy with nature
Let’s imagine. You get ready for a backpacking trip, maybe it is the middle of winter. Everybody is at home and you are out into the woods for some reason. Because you decided to be. Where it is cold, and a little wet, and then you realize that the forest is alive all around. And your world has opened up. There are no walls, no borders, no boundaries. You are hiking through a forest that is alive with wildlife. You can hear the birds and other animals, you can see the insects all over if you look closely. And you are walking through just wilderness wonderland that fills you up. And that can happen at every same time once you are out in nature.