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The Central Indiana Wilderness Club offers trips which are suitable for the first-time backpacker each year. There is a weekend trip to Red River Gorge each spring. It is only about 2 to 3 miles each day. It features some of the finest scenery in the eastern United States. The club also usually has a weekend trip to the Knobstone Trail, which is Indiana’s longest and best known trail. Most of the club’s other short backpacking trips are suitable for beginners. If you are unsure about whether a particular trip is suitable for you, talk to the trip leader.

The first thing you need to do to get ready for your trip is to obtain the necessary equipment. The club provides tents, stoves, cooking utensils and water filters. The main items you need to provide for yourself are a backpack and sleeping bag. These items are not cheap, so you might want to see if you can borrow them from your friends or fellow club members for your first trip. Smaller items which you will need include a water bottle (or two if traveling through dry areas), eating utensils, and a bowl or mess kit. Some sort of rain gear is also highly recommended.

There are several items which are highly desirable for backpacking but not absolutely necessary for your first trip. Hiking boots are nice, but you can get by with athletic shoes. A thermarest pad to go under your sleeping bag is nice, but not absolutely needed. Many members wear specially designed outdoor clothing. You can get by with regular clothing, but look for items made from synthetic materials. Most natural fibers, such as cotton, do not dry out quickly. Jeans are especially bad.

The club provides your breakfasts and dinners on backpack trips, but you have to provide for your lunches and snacks on the trail. Everybody has their own favorites, and here are some of mine:

  • Gorp or trail mix (a mixture of dried fruit and nuts)
  • Power Bars (banana flavor)
  • Cheese Nips (backpacking trips are an excuse to eat junk food!)
  • Pretzels (the little ones, which don’t break up as easily)
  • Cheese & pita bread or bagels
  • Carrots

All sorts of options are available. Whatever you choose, just make sure that you can transport it in your backpack okay. Bananas would be great to take along if it they didn’t bruise so easily.

If you decide you like backpacking after your first trip, you will probably want to start buying some additional equipment. Here is a list of items you might want to put on your wish list to Santa:

  • Hiking boots
  • Thermarest pad
  • Hiking socks
  • Camp pillow
  • High quality rain gear
  • Vented shirt
  • Pants with zip-off legs

See our Trip Signup page for more information on preparing for a trip and signing up for a CIWC trip.

Most folks are a little unsure of themselves when they go on their first backpacking trip. There are probably others who would like to go but never do because they just feel uncomfortable about going on that first trip. The aim of this little article is to show that it is not that difficult, and you don’t have to spend a lot of cash to go on your first trip. If you have a question about a specific trip that is scheduled, contact the trip leader listed for that trip. 

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