How to Beat the Post-Backpacking Blues

How to Beat the Post-Backpacking Blues

How to Beat the Post-Backpacking Blues


We’ve all been there: sitting at your desk, staring at work that needs to get done, and all you can think is, “I need to hike.” For some, this moment comes the day after your return from the outdoors and for others, this feeling doesn’t appear until you’ve spent months happily (or so you thought!) enjoying the comforts of civilization. The adjustment to real-life after backpacking can be a difficult process, from realizing that relieving your bladder in nearby shrubbery is frowned upon to feeling constrained by concrete wherever you go. Regardless of when your post-backpacking blues sets in, here are 5 ways to fight it.

Set goals

When you’re on the trail, every day you have a goal and every day you do something, even if that something is taking a zero day. This can translate into a feeling of a lack of achievement upon your reintegration into the real world. Establishing goals in your every day life, whether it is a short-term goal or something that may take months to achieve, can bring back the sense of purpose many feel on the trail. Your goal may no longer be a mountain or a mileage, but achieving it will bring similar satisfaction.


Exercise causes your brain to release endorphins, which make you happy. It’s as simple as that (okay, maybe not that simple, but you get the idea). Hiking all day provides our brain with higher levels of endorphins, so when we stop hiking and the endorphins stop being released it can lead to depression. The easiest way to combat this? Start exercising again!

Talk to someone

Talk to a fellow outdoor enthusiast. Talk to someone who can see the appeal of leaving behind fresh food and beds and houses, and spending a month outside. When you return from a long distance hike, everyone will ask how your trip went. What can you say, except, “great!”? Talk to someone who will understand the reward of hiking that comes with the pain.

Plan your next trip

Take your lunch break to do some research. Start making itineraries or packing lists or food lists. Don’t like making lists? Learn a new backcountry skill, look at pictures of beautiful places or read others’ accounts of their hikes. Do anything that will get you excited about taking your next trip.

Get outside

While this last one may seem obvious, it’s often a solution that is overlooked. There is nothing quite like being outside to revive your spirit. So take a morning walk, eat lunch outside or even take a weekend away. As the great John Muir once said, “Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” Take a break and go get your fill of nature.

Lena Milton I’m Lena, an outdoors girl since birth. Since my first camping trip at 2 months, I’ve been hiking, camping and backpacking at every chance I can get. My favorite trip was my recent trek of the John Muir Trail, from Yosemite to Mt. Whitney. Now, I’m a student at Brown University in Rhode Island, but I dream of returning to my home state, California, and exploring its mountains more.