Join Us Backpacking!
Backpacking is a fantastic way to get outside. Carrying all the items on your back and traveling by foot in the woods gives you the opportunity to travel and see new areas intimately, plus get in some great views! Naturally, backpacking is also a great way to get in shape (or stay in shape)! Even more than that, though, you can learn about yourself while you challenge yourself, find your own limits, become more self-reliant, and disconnect from the world outside. It's also a fantastic way to meet other like-minded people, maybe your new best friends!
There are a range of levels of difficulty, and many of our shorter weekend trips are appropriate for beginner level backpackers, with enjoyment for intermediate backpackers, as well! Each morning, we will pack up backpacks, distributing group gear amongst everyone's packs, then hike on the trail for the day. Once we arrive at camp, we will set up the sleeping areas (tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad), and use our cooking set-up to make tasty meals. If the weather cooperates, we may enjoy an evening around the campfire before hitting the hay.
With the Outdoor Adventure Program, we will give you the knowledge to succeed on the trip you've signed up for, as well as give you tools to do more hiking and backpacking on your own in the future.
Pemigewasset Wilderness, N.H.
The Pemigewasset Wilderness is New Hampshire’s largest Wilderness Area, and includes over 45,000 acres of protected land in the heart of the White Mountains. Ringed by impressive peaks, the wilderness forms the upper watershed for the Pemigewasset River, providing lush valleys accessed only by hiking trails. The trip is designed for beginner backpackers with lots of instruction in basic backpacking skills and Leave No Trace principles. This can also be a great trip for the experienced backpacker.
Long Trail, VT
The Long Trail runs length of the Green Mountains for 272 miles through the scenic State of Vermont from Massachusetts to Quebec, Canada. Along the trail one finds peaks, meadows, rivers and lakes between hiking shelters, small towns and rural roads. On this trip we will hike a small section of the Long Trail during the most colorful time of year! The trip is designed for beginner backpackers with lots of instruction in basic backpacking skills and Leave No Trace principles. This can also be a great trip for the experienced backpacker.
No previous backpacking experience necessary. Each person should have a fitness level suitable for carrying a backpack with personal gear and some group gear. Short days may be just one mile or so of backpacking, while full days will average between 5 and 8 miles per day, comprising approximately 5-7 hours of backpacking (with breaks).
Many of our backpacking trips happen in fall or spring. Generally you can expect New England evenings to be surprisingly cool. Some days may be warm or may be cool. Most weather is perfectly great weather for backpacking, even rain. The only weather that will cause us to pause while on the trail is thunderstorms/lightning. Ridgelines or summits of mountains are likely to be quite chilly. If it very windy and/or cool, we may limit the time we spend on various high points. Be prepared for backpacking in fall or spring by bringing warm layers and rain layers, and carefully review the packing list below.
We will be packing and carrying all meals for the trip, including snacks stops on the trail. Your trip leaders will be reaching out to each participant for any dietary restrictions before we do food packing. Depending on the group's allergy restrictions, you may be welcome to bring a few extra snacks with you, though please remember that everything we bring will need to be carried.
Participants should expect that they will be sharing tents or lean-tos with others. Outdoor Adventure Program tents hold up to 4 people. so everyone should expect to share a tent with 1-3 other people. Tentmates may be determined by trip leaders and by participant comfort and preference. Mixed sex/gender tents are permitted. (However, any sexual activity is never appropriate in a group camping/lodging context and will not be permitted.)
If you wish to bring your own sleeping bag, tent or other shelter, we will verify that it is appropriate and in good order before leaving, as well as determine the amount of space available at our various campsites.
Tentative itinerary for a typical weekend trip
Due to the nature of outdoor trips and uncontrollable variables, all itineraries are subject to change.
- Meet at the Outdoor Adventure Center & Bike Shop, talk over the plan, distribute borrowed personal gear (sleeping bag, sleeping pad, backpacks, etc.)
- Scheduled for the week before the trip.
- Meet at the Outdoor Adventure Center & Bike Shop
- Meeting time determined at the pre-trip meeting
- 5 Lawrence Drive, Lowell, MA 01854
- Distribute group gear for packing in backpacks
- Drive to Trailhead
- Possible Short Hike
- Set Up Camp
Saturday & Sunday
- 7 a.m. Cook Breakfast, Eat, Packing Instruction, Get Geared Up
- 9 a.m. Hike Throughout the Day, Lessons on Backpacking Skills, Relax, Explore, Possibly Summit a Peak, Enjoy Snacks!
- Midday Lunch
- 5 p.m. Make Camp, Eat Dinner, Relax
- 7 a.m. Cook Breakfast, Eat, & Pack Up
- 9 a.m. Hike Throughout the Day, Lessons on Backpacking Skills, Relax, Explore, Possibly Summit a Peak
- Midday Lunch
- 12-3 p.m. Arrive at Trailhead, Head Back to Campus
- 3-5 p.m. Debrief
- Arrive back at the at the Outdoor Adventure Center/Bike Shop, clean up, review course content/answer any remaining question, etc.
- 6 p.m. Dismissal
- This should be determined based off of participants needs and the intended goals of this trip. Speak to your trip leader
Possible Curriculum Topics
- Leave No Trace
- Trail Etiquette
- Packing & Pack Fit
- Food Preparation
- Campsite Selection
- Weather & Environmental Awareness
- First Aid
- Gear Maintenance & Repair
The items on this list are strongly recommended for your trip. The weather forecast and your thermal perception (i.e. if you generally feel cold easily or often feel hot) should be considered when packing.
- Online Medical Questionnaire and waiver
- Hiking Shoes or Boots with good tread, and ideally with ankle support
- Socks for Hiking 1 pair wool mid-weight hiking style are required, especially for wet conditions and blister prevention; 2-3 pairs is ideal
- Underwear quick-dry (non-cotton) preferable but not necessary
- Long underweartops and bottoms Quick-drying material such as nylon or polyester required
- Shirts long-sleeve and/or short-sleeve Quick-dry, lightweight, non-cotton, no sweatshirts
- Pants/Shorts/Hiking Skirt Quick-dry, non-cotton, no jeans
- *Warm jacket layer Fleece/wool/puffy top layer, should be compact
- *Rain jacket/shell and rain pants Both top and bottom are a must, as weather in the mountains can change suddenly
- *Warm Hat wool or fleece
- Camp Shoes Worn around camp or in the van; very lightweight athletic shoes or sport sandals are ideal—no flip flops or open-toed sandals
- Socks for Camp 1 pair to wear around camp and while sleeping, separate from your hiking socks
- Sunglasses Sun protection
- Baseball Cap/ Full-Brim Hat Sun protection
- Bandana Versatile: sweat rag, hanky, napkin, etc.
- Toiletries Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, feminine hygiene products, small bottle hand sanitizer, ziploc bag for toiletries disposal. If you wear contacts, bring an extra set.
- Personal environmental supplies Sunscreen, lip balm, bug spray
- *HeadlampYou must provide 3AAA batteries if borrowing one of ours
- *Mess kit Plate, cup, eating utensils – a small plastic tupperware bowl and mug work great
- *2 Water Bottles Hydration; start hydrating the day before
- *Sleeping bag Proper temperature rating for the season necessary; we use 0 or 20 degree bags
- *Sleeping pad
- *Backpack 40+L required
- *Trekking poles
- Personal Medications
- Medical Insurance Card
- Money For food on the road and/or possible souvenirs
- Optional: *Gaiters lightweight ankle protection to keep debris out of shoes, especially pebbles & mud
- Optional: Camera (or camera phone). A protective case is highly recommended. Turn phone to airplane mode to preserve battery (and enjoy nature)
- Optional: Book or journal Great for the van or down time on the trip
- Optional: Swimsuit if your trip has a swimming possibility
- Optional: Multi-tool or pocketknife
- Optional: Lightweight battery pack & charging cables
- Optional: Driving clothes & shoes, etc additional clothes/supplies for a longer drive
*All items with an asterisk are available to check-out and included in the cost of your registration.
You will leave the pre-trip meeting to return to your own residence with your backpack, sleeping bag and sleeping pad, so you can arrive fully packed and ready. Each person should be prepared to add some of the shared group gear to their pack before departure.
Any personal equipment you wish to bring is subject to trip leader approval. If you have any personal equipment (backpack, sleeping bag, etc.) that you would like to bring, please bring it to the pre-trip meeting so trip leaders can make sure it is appropriate for the needs of this trip.
OAP will provide all the necessary group items, including tents, cooking supplies, stoves and fuel, food and food storage, water purification, restroom kit (trowel, toilet paper, rest stop bag), hygiene kit (hand sanitizer and biodegradable soap), first aid kit, emergency communication device, and maps. These items will be distributed throughout the group for carrying in backpacks.