Backcountry refers to remote and often wild areas that are usually located far from civilization, such as deep in the mountains or in the middle of a forest. The term “backcountry” is often used to describe areas where outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, backpacking, skiing, snowboarding, and rock climbing can be pursued.
Backcountry activities often involve being self-sufficient and carrying all necessary equipment and supplies, as there may be limited or no access to amenities such as food, water, and shelter. This type of adventure requires experience, knowledge, and preparation to ensure safety and minimize environmental impact.
Backcountry areas can be both beautiful and dangerous, and visitors should always be aware of the risks involved and take appropriate precautions. Some risks include exposure to extreme weather conditions, rugged and unpredictable terrain, wildlife encounters, and the potential for getting lost or injured. It is important to research the area, plan ahead, and be prepared for unexpected situations.
Backcountry is a specialty retailer that offers outdoor gear and apparel for a variety of outdoor activities, including camping, hiking, skiing, snowboarding, climbing, and biking. The company was founded in 1996 in Park City, Utah, and has since grown to become a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
Backcountry carries a wide range of products from popular brands such as The North Face, Patagonia, Arc’teryx, Black Diamond, and many more. The company also offers its own line of gear and apparel under the Backcountry brand.
In addition to its online store, Backcountry has several retail locations across the United States, as well as an outlet store in Utah.
Backcountry is known for its commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship. The company has implemented initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint and support conservation efforts, such as partnering with the National Forest Foundation and 1% for the Planet.
Backcountry also provides a wealth of resources for outdoor enthusiasts, including expert advice and gear recommendations, trip planning tools, and a community forum for users to share experiences and connect with other adventurers.
PROS & Cons
- Wide selection of outdoor gear and apparel for various activities.
- Carries products from popular and reputable brands as well as their own Backcountry brand.
- Offers resources and advice for trip planning and outdoor activities.
- Committed to sustainability and environmental stewardship.
- Has both online and brick-and-mortar stores for customers to shop at.
- Prices can be higher than other retailers, especially for high-end products.
- Limited international shipping options and high shipping fees for some locations.
- Returns can be difficult, as some products may only be returned for store credit.
- Customer service can be inconsistent, with some customers reporting slow response times or unhelpful representatives.
- May not have the same level of personal attention or expertise as a smaller, specialized outdoor retailer.
The Best Backcountry Trails for Hiking and Backpacking
There are countless backcountry trails across the United States that are perfect for hiking and backpacking. Here are a few of the best:
- The Pacific Crest Trail: This iconic trail spans over 2,600 miles from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon, and Washington. It is known for its stunning scenery, diverse terrain, and challenging but rewarding hiking experience.
- The Appalachian Trail: Another well-known long-distance trail, the Appalachian Trail stretches over 2,200 miles through 14 eastern states. It offers a mix of rugged terrain, scenic vistas, and opportunities to connect with nature.
- The John Muir Trail: This 211-mile trail through California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains is named after naturalist and conservationist John Muir. It is known for its breathtaking views of mountains, lakes, and meadows, as well as challenging terrain.
- The Wonderland Trail: This 93-mile trail encircles Mount Rainier in Washington State, offering stunning views of the mountain and its surrounding wilderness. It can be completed in about a week and is known for its rugged and diverse terrain.
- The Continental Divide Trail: This trail spans over 3,000 miles from Mexico to Canada along the Rocky Mountains. It offers a challenging but rewarding hiking experience with stunning views of mountains, forests, and deserts.
- The Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim Trail: This challenging 24-mile trail traverses the Grand Canyon in Arizona, offering breathtaking views of the canyon and its unique geology. It is typically done as an overnight backpacking trip.
- The Highline Trail: This 72-mile trail in Montana’s Glacier National Park offers stunning views of mountains, lakes, and glaciers. It can be completed in about a week and is known for its challenging but rewarding terrain.
These are just a few of the many backcountry trails available for hiking and backpacking in the United States. It is important to research and plan ahead to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
The Dos and Don’ts of Backcountry Navigation
- Do carry a map and compass or GPS device, and know how to use them.
- Do familiarize yourself with the trail or route before setting out, and know the landmarks and key features along the way.
- Do pay attention to the terrain and use it to confirm your location.
- Do use natural features such as rivers, mountains, and valleys as reference points.
- Do leave a detailed itinerary with someone before setting out, including your route, expected time of return, and emergency contact information.
- Do carry extra batteries, a backup map or compass, and a whistle or other signaling device in case of an emergency.
- Do keep track of your progress and make adjustments to your route as needed.
- Don’t rely solely on technology such as GPS devices or smartphones, as they can fail or run out of battery.
- Don’t assume that a trail or route is well-marked or easy to follow.
- Don’t venture off-trail or take shortcuts unless you are experienced and properly equipped.
- Don’t ignore warning signs or closures, as they are often in place for safety reasons.
- Don’t let your guard down, even if you are familiar with the area or have hiked the trail before.
- Don’t hesitate to turn back or seek help if you become lost or disoriented.
- Don’t forget to practice Leave No Trace principles and respect the environment while navigating in the backcountry.
How to Stay Safe in the Back Country
Staying safe in the backcountry requires careful planning and preparation. Here are some tips to help you stay safe while enjoying the outdoors:
- Research and plan ahead: Before heading out, research your destination and familiarize yourself with the area, including the terrain, weather conditions, wildlife, and potential hazards.
- Check the weather: Always check the weather forecast before heading out, and be prepared for changes in weather conditions.
- Bring appropriate gear: Make sure you have the necessary gear and clothing for the activities you’ll be doing and the conditions you’ll be facing. Don’t forget to bring a first aid kit, emergency shelter, extra food and water, and navigation tools.
- Share your itinerary: Let someone know your planned route, expected time of return, and emergency contact information.
- Stay on designated trails: Stick to designated trails and avoid venturing off-trail, as it can be dangerous and can cause damage to the environment.
- Respect wildlife: Keep a safe distance from wildlife and avoid feeding or approaching them.
- Practice Leave No Trace: Follow the principles of Leave No Trace to minimize your impact on the environment.
- Use proper techniques: Use proper techniques for activities such as hiking, backpacking, and camping to avoid injury or accidents.
- Be prepared for emergencies: Know how to handle emergency situations such as injuries, getting lost, or inclement weather.
- Trust your instincts: If something doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts and take appropriate action to stay safe.
Here are some frequently asked questions about backcountry:
What is backcountry?
Backcountry refers to remote and undeveloped areas, often found in national parks, wilderness areas, and other protected lands. These areas are typically accessed by hiking or other non-motorized means, and offer a more primitive and natural experience than frontcountry areas.
How do I prepare for a backcountry trip?
Preparing for a backcountry trip involves researching the area, planning your route, and bringing appropriate gear and supplies for your activities and the conditions you’ll encounter. This includes a map and compass or GPS device, appropriate clothing and footwear, extra food and water, a first aid kit, and emergency shelter.
How can I navigate in the backcountry?
Navigating in the backcountry requires a map and compass or GPS device, as well as knowledge of how to use them. You should also be familiar with the terrain and key landmarks, and use natural features such as rivers and mountains as reference points.
How can I stay safe in the backcountry?
Staying safe in the backcountry involves careful planning, preparation, and decision-making. This includes researching the area, checking the weather, bringing appropriate gear and supplies, sticking to designated trails, respecting wildlife, practicing Leave No Trace, and being prepared for emergencies.
What is Leave No Trace?
Leave No Trace is a set of principles for responsible outdoor ethics. These principles include minimizing impact on the environment, staying on designated trails, properly disposing of waste, respecting wildlife, and leaving the area as you found it.
What should I do if I encounter wildlife in the backcountry?
If you encounter wildlife in the backcountry, it is important to keep a safe distance and avoid approaching or feeding them. Make noise to alert them of your presence, and give them plenty of space to avoid disturbing their natural behavior. If a dangerous encounter occurs, refer to local wildlife management recommendations or seek assistance from park rangers or other authorities.
Do I need a permit to hike or camp in the backcountry?
Many backcountry areas require a permit for hiking or camping. Check with the park or land management agency beforehand to see if permits are required, and obtain them in advance if necessary.
In conclusion, exploring the backcountry can be an exhilarating and rewarding experience, but it’s important to take precautions to ensure your safety and minimize your impact on the environment. This includes careful planning and preparation, using appropriate gear and navigation tools, sticking to designated trails, respecting wildlife, practicing Leave No Trace, and being prepared for emergencies. By following these tips and guidelines, you can enjoy the beauty of the backcountry while staying safe and protecting the natural environment for future generations to enjoy.