I love to camp. I try to avoid the campgrounds and stick to walk-in/cart-in sites away from the riff raff. Most backcountry ish I've done was up in Savannah Portage State Park in MN. The Walk in site was almost 2 miles off the road and at least a mile from the next closest walk in site.
I've been out camping the past 5 weekends in various places.
I'm really wanting to do a solo backcountry trip up to the Chippewa National Forest in a couple of weeks. I've never camped alone and never "backcountry". Any suggestions, comments?
I think the first thing you want to do is put together a gear list (doesn't have to be the excel spreadsheets many of us use, just a list on a piece of paper is fine.) Since you'll be going solo, and away from campgrounds, you'll have to carry everything you need - you may have shared gear before, or lived out of your vehicle, and may be shocked at how much stuff you end up needing to carry.
I always found that Colin Fletcher's "House on your back" concept worked well. You need a bedroom, a kitchen, a pantry, a clothes closet, and a bathroom. Think about what you need to eat, sleep, be warm, and take care of your personal needs, and list the gear accordingly.
After you've got your gear list together, pull out all the gear on it and put it in a pile. It will be surprisingly large. That's when you start asking, "What is a necessity, and what is a luxury?" For example, if you've got frozen steak, whole potatoes, and canned pudding in the pantry, and a grill, stove, a couple pots, and a plate and cup in the kitchen, the question becomes apparent: How can you reduce that? Well, by eating a freeze-dried pasta entree that you prepare by adding hot water to the bag instead of steak, baked potato, and puddding, you eliminate a lot of food weight - and the grill, the plate, some utensils, and all but the stove, one pot, a spoon, and a cup from the kitchen (and, with the right pot, you can eliminate the cup.)
The same logic will apply to all the other "rooms."
Once you've made that first cut, it's time to load it into the pack to (a)see if it will all fit, and (b)see how much it weighs. Then you can start asking specific questions here, about specific packs (if you need a new one) or how to cut weight (with lots of recommendations on lighter, better-suited gear.)
I apologize if I've spoken "down" to you, and realize that you may have already done some of this since you use walk-in sites. But, since you said you were "new to backpacking," I asumed you hadn't done any of this yet.
Let me know where you're at in the process of assembling appropriate gear, and we can move on from there to discuss planning and taking your first solo trip.
At all my walk in sites I've always carried too much to be considered backpacking. Cooler, chairs, lots of unnecessary foods etc.
What I do plan to bring: alumn cooking pot w/lid, strainer, handle all concealed in itself. Tent - Wenzel South Bend 4 Person Dome Tent - 7.8lbs (heavy I know) Sleeping bag - Coleman - 6.5 lbs (hmm, that's heavy too) Necessary Gear - leatherman, headlamp, mini battery lantern, magnesium/fire starter, plenty of rope, compass, First aid kit Tarp Ė 9x7 Ė medium duty Minimal clothes Ė Whatís on my back and depending on the weather on my trek in 1 change of cold/warm. 1 book Machete or hatchet Daiwa minispin fishing rod/real All will fit on my pack which is a 70ís external alumn frame Alpine pack. (picked up two of them for $20)
It does appear this is going to get heavy fast. I have not put it all together to weigh as of yet. Iíll have to work on my food, ie get dehydrated goods like mountain house or something like that. Iím used to eating really well camping; steak, potato, breakfast burritos etc. I plan to boil water or use treatment tabs. I will be very near lake and streams.
Iím sure Iím missing something but this is a start.
Things Iím considering: I have a cheap hammock I could use along with my tarp instead of the tent. Mini white gas stove (the size of a little metal cup which it has too) but Iíve always cooked over my fire
Let the educating begin!!
P.S. I plan to pickup Colin Fletchers "the complete walker" and I'll have to look at the House on your back as well.
Why both tarp and tent? Do you intend to walk in and stay a while?
Why the hatchet or big knife? These things weigh a pound plus, and if you are following leave no trace (LNT) you don't need, even if you are going to make a small fire for cooking. Sticks two fingers to wrist thick make the best coals for cooking anyway...
Why lots of rope? I have bear bag line (50feet of 550 cord will work great, as will some of the lighter line at the specialty store) and some rope to hold things on my external frame, but nothing else.
If backpacking, extra is just weight. If staying and playing, extra makes things nicer. It is important to understand what you are choosing to do.