187: How Would You Describe Your First Backpacking Trip?

Show Notes: Episode 187

Today on the First 40 Miles, still wondering what your first backpacking trip will be like?  We think we can boil it down to five words.  Then, we’ve found a solar charger that will not only power your electronics, but also rolls up to the size of a Payday candy bar.  And a hack for all you hammock hangers out there—sorry ground dwellers.


  • Dad requests book on Trail Wisdom
  • The power of collecting quotes, poems and other trail wisdom

Listener Audio: Alex and backpacking with his Father

Top 5 Words That Might Describe Your First Backpacking Trip


  • What did you expect?
  • You might be surprised at the things that happen/don’t happen
  • Surprised that it was easier than you expected, surprised by what the real challenges actually were…


  • It takes a lot to actually get out on your first trip backpacking, especially if you’re taking other people along, too.
  • But when you finally make it to the trail head, then to your campsite or to a view or a lake, or you overcome a frustrating challenge like accidentally leaving a piece of gear at home—you should be proud of yourself.
  • You did it! You can do hard things!!


  • There’s so much you don’t know yet…
  • You may have thoughts like “There’s no way I’d ever sleep in a hammock, or bring my kids, or try going stoveless or learn any knots.”
  • Some things seem hard to a beginner, but after you have small successes you’ll be ready for learning new things…line upon line.


  • “I thought I’d sleep better” or “I didn’t think it would take this long to put up a tent or figure out how to make dinner”
  • You may be exhausted, frustrated, and sore, but I promise it gets better.


  • No matter where you go, there are no walls
  • Very freeing feeling
  • It’s a feeling you’ll want to experience again and again.

SUMMIT Gear Review™:  LightSaver USB Roll-up Solar Charger – Battery Bank   


  • Flexible solar panel (not rigid)
  • Has a power bank
  • USB


  • Charges itself while it charges your device


  • Weighs 5 ounces
  • Lightest weight solar charger on the market


  • Manufacturer recommends full sun charge
  • You can also charge at home with USB


  • $100


  • Love how it’s a battery bank, too—you can pre charge it before your trip
  • We took the LightSaver out on our backpacking trip to the Metolius River
  • Often when we’re hiking, we don’t have full sun—we’re under a canopy of trees or a covering of clouds, which means it’s harder to get 6 hours of full sun–the manufacturer says that partial sun can still charge the battery pack–just not as fast as full sun.
  • The battery pack means that you can “top off” your electronics, then charge the battery pack when you have access to full sun
  • Best for cell phones, headlamps, mp3 players, and other light-drain electronics.
  • Compact, flexible, lightweight, easy to attach to a pack

Backpack Hack of the Week™:  Hammock Tree Straps as Gear Storage

Hammock hack: tie your boot laces together loosely and hang them over the hammock’s tree straps.  That will keep them off the ground and reduce the chance that they’ll be carried off or filled up.  You can also take a carabiner and hang your pack or other gear off the tree straps.

Trail Wisdom

The hills ahead look steep and high,
And often we behold them with a sigh;
But as we near them level grows the road,
We find on every slope, with every load,
The climb is not so steep, the top so far.
The hills ahead look harder than they are.
—Douglas Malloch