13 Struggles Every Backpacker Knows

13 Struggles Every Backpacker Knows

13 Struggles Every Backpacker Knows


Life for a backpacker is wonderful, but it’s not always easy. Despite the freedom of connecting with nature and constantly being surrounded by absolute beauty, it’s not always as glamorous as it seems. Though most backpackers got it down, there are parts of this hobby that will always be a struggle, no matter how much experience you have. Despite how annoying some parts of getting outdoors can be, at the end of the day, these struggles aren’t the end of the world:

1. Getting Lost

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Over the years, you think you’ve become an expert at navigating trail maps. But, for some reason, there’s always that one time where you get hopelessly lost (and realize you weren’t actually lost at all). It’s okay though. Getting lost is all part of why we love the wilderness so much.

2. Sleeping Comfortably

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You would really like to believe that after an entire day hiking, you would have no problem falling asleep. Unfortunately, your insomnia follows you to the outdoors, and no matter which way you turn, you just can’t get comfortable. You literally roll around in your sleeping bag for what feels like hours. But, when you wake up, you still feel refreshed.

3. Fitting. Everything. Inside

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You think you’ve gotten the packing thing down pat. Heck, you don’t even mind doing it. But, for some reason, each time you head out, it never gets any easier. Ever. You really wish they would just invent some quasi-backpack that can fit everything you could ever want, without weighing anything at all.

4. Feeling Clean

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You were already aware of the fact that time out in the backcountry means never being 100% clean. Although you’re okay with that, there’s so much you would do to take a real shower. Though, a shower in the outdoors is better than nothing, and you will take advantage of each and every opportunity to feel as clean as possible.

5. Going to Work After a Hike

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Is there anything worse than having to go into work after a long weekend or week-off backpacking? No, there’s not. You’ve even contemplated quitting your job several times, buying a van, and just hitting the backcountry for the rest of your life. However, something still drives you to get up to go to work. Whether it’s because it funds your hikes or because you have another hike to look forward to soon, it ends up not being so bad.

6. Slow People

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There are certainly moments when you love taking in the outdoors at your own pace. Then, there are times when you can’t stand people in front of you walking so slow. You’re so used to hiking miles and miles without stopping, or pushing your way up mountains like it’s the last thing you’ll ever do. Having to deal with slow people is one of the struggles you just won’t get over.

7. Blisters

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We all get them. They’re painful. They suck. They make you want to just sit down and cry. But, if you have them, welcome! It means you’re part of the club.

8. Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

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Only backpackers need to worry about bears and other wild animals living in the backcountry. One of the many struggles of being in the outdoors is making sure you’re protected from bears at all times. This doesn’t mean just having a solid tent, but keeping your food in containers that are safe from bears. Though, if you happen to see one from a distance, it can be rather exciting.

9. Chaffing

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Chaffing, chub-rubs, swamp ass…whatever you call it. It’s all part of the experience, isn’t it? It’s also terribly uncomfortable. Like blisters, it’s something every backpacker has to deal with at some point, so just see it as another initiation into the backpacking world.

10. Windy Days

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You can deal with hiking in the snow, the rain, and even hot weather. But God forbid you have to hike on a day that’s windy. Wind can seriously slow you down and make it really frustrating every time your hat or sunglasses fly off, or when your tent won’t sit still.

11. When Other People Leave Trash

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Are they serious? How can a person claim to love the outdoors and leave crap everywhere? Of course, you’re not going to just leave it there. Now you have to clean up your stuff and a stranger’s. You don’t mind doing it, but come on, people!

12. When Something New Hits the Market

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This is probably one of the hardest struggles of being a backpacker. You see a new gear item has come out, and you try to justify a million reasons why you don’t need it. But then, you think of a million more of why you do need it. Then you remember why you need to keep a job.

13. Non-Backpacking Friends

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You love all your friends dearly, but there’s nothing more irritating than a friend who just doesn’t get it. They talked about how great their night was at the bar or sitting home watching Netflix, and you’re all like, “Yup, I climbed a mountain yesterday…”

Despite the beauty of getting outdoors, there are some ridiculous struggles that you still have to deal with as a backpacker. Luckily, you’re not the only one. 

hanalarock I'm Hana- a freelance travel writer and teacher who currently lives in South Korea. I'm originally from New York, but have spent the last two years traveling and living abroad. My first time hiking in the US was when I traveled around the country as a teenager. Though, my first adult backpacking trip was a year ago, when I hiked from Thailand down to Singapore for a month. I'm looking forward to many more adventures in the future. Visit my site for more information.