Backpacking for Beginners: A Camp Master 101

Would you like to embark on an adventure that’s a bit more daring than your average camping trip? If the answer is a resounding “Yes!”, then you’re in the right place. This guide is your trusty companion to start your journey into the world of backpacking. Here, you’ll find everything from why backpacking might just become your go-to outdoor activity, to essential tips and gear advice to make your first overnight hike unforgettable – all brought to you by your friends at Camp Master. With that said, let’s hit the trail!

The Allure of Backpacking

What’s so special about backpacking, you ask? It’s simple: imagine trekking through breathtaking landscapes with everything you need on your back, finding that perfect spot to set up camp, and then doing it all over again the next day. It’s not just a workout for your body, but a refreshing break for your mind too. Plus, who can resist the allure of disconnecting from the digital world and reconnecting with nature? Trust us, the joy of being in the great outdoors, away from the hustle and bustle, is unmatched.

Choosing Your Backpacking Venue

South Africa is a backpacker’s paradise, with trails that cater to all levels of experience. For your first outing, we recommend choosing trails that are beginner-friendly – think well-marked paths with moderate difficulty and breathtaking views. Whether you’re drawn to the mountains, forests, or coastal paths, there’s a perfect trail waiting for you. Do a bit of homework, check out trail reviews, and pick a spot that speaks to your soul.

Here are a few of our top picks to get you started:

Drakensberg Mountains

No backpackers hit-list would be complete without this location. Known for their stunning beauty, the Drakensberg range offers trails for all levels. Beginners can start with easier hikes like the Giant’s Cup Trail, which provides a good mix of challenge and scenic beauty without being too strenuous.

Garden Route

This famous stretch along the southeastern coast of South Africa is not just for road trippers. It offers numerous hiking trails through forests, along beaches, and past lagoons, with varying difficulties. The Robberg Nature Reserve hike is a popular choice for beginners.

Cederberg Wilderness Area

Located near Cape Town, Cederberg is known for its dramatic rock formations and ancient San rock art. The Sevilla Rock Art Trail is an easy yet fascinating hike that combines natural beauty with a touch of history. If rock art tickles your fancy, we’ve got an excellent guide to South Africa’s best spots!

Tsitsikamma National Park

Part of the Garden Route National Park, this area offers lush forests and dramatic coastline. The first day of the famous Otter Trail is an excellent choice for beginners, offering a taste of what long-distance trails have to offer.


Nestled in the Amathole Mountains, Hogsback feels like stepping into a fairy tale with its misty forests and waterfalls. It has many short trails that are perfect for beginners, like the 3-hour hike to the Madonna and Child Waterfall.

Golden Gate Highlands National Park

This park in the Free State offers spectacular scenery of golden-hued cliffs and abundant wildlife. The Rhebok Hiking Trail is a two-day trek but is considered doable for beginners who are up for a bit more of a challenge.

Wild Coast

For those drawn to unspoiled coastal scenery, the Wild Coast offers rugged beauty and a chance to explore the Xhosa culture. The Hole in the Wall hike is a relatively easy and highly rewarding trek.

Hit the Trail

Alright, we’ve established South Africa is a backpacker’s playground. Now, let’s get down to business. Preparing for your first backpacking trip is essential. Set achievable goals, get your body trail-ready, gear-up and brush up on skills like map reading and basic first aid. Fortunately, we’re here to help!

Packing for backpacking is an art and a science. You’ll need the basics: a durable backpack, a comfy sleeping bag, a trusty tent, and some cooking gear. We’re here to make it easy for you:

Backpack: Camp Master’s backpacks are designed for comfort and functionality. With ergonomic designs, adjustable shoulder straps for a custom fit, and ample padding for comfort, you’ll be trekking in style.

Sleeping Bag: Select a Camp Master sleeping bag appropriate for the climate and season of your trek. Our range includes options for various temperatures – lightweight ones for warm weather and insulated models for colder environments. Look for features like draft collars, hoods for extra warmth, and compression sacks for compact packing. No matter the weather, we’ve got you covered.

Tent: Invest in a Camp Master tent that balances lightweight portability with durability. Features to look for include quick and easy setup, sturdy poles and pegs, waterproof and UV-resistant materials, and adequate ventilation to reduce condensation. Consider the tent’s size and weight in relation to your backpacking needs. Fortunately for you, dear camper, our instant tents tick all of those boxes!

Cooking Gear: Camp Master offers compact cooking gear ideal for backpacking. Our portable braai stand is a must-have for any campfire cook, while our mini potjie pots are great for stews and soups. Also, include lightweight, durable utensils and a small, portable stove if you plan to cook meals that require boiling or simmering. With Camp Master, you can eat gourmet wherever you are!

First Aid Kit: Bumps and bruises are a given on any adventure, so, be sure to carry a Camp master First Aid Kit. Remember to pack any personal medication you may need too, there’s plenty of room!

Lighting: A reliable Camp Master headlamp, lantern or flashlight is crucial to navigate your camp site or the trail in the dark. Our headlamps, with their adjustable brightness settings, a long battery life, and a comfortable, secure fit, are an essential tool for the overnight hiker.

Multi-tool or Knife: Who doesn’t love a good gadget? We sure do. Our selection of versatile multi-tools and survival kits are essential for various tasks like making fire, preparing food, or making minor repairs. You don’t want to be caught in the bush without one!

Lightweight Foldable Chair: For comfortable seating during breaks, a lightweight foldable chair from Camp Master is a must. They are easy to carry and quick to set up; perfect for the camper on the go.

Food Storage: Use Camp Master’s soft coolers for efficient food storage. They are lightweight, insulated, and durable, keeping food fresh and secure from wildlife. The Camp Master Backpack Cooler is our go to for the hungry backpacker!

Hydration: Stay hydrated with a Camp Master water bottle. Our lightweight, durable bottles with a secure seals will keep you fresh on the trail.

Remember, the key to successful backpacking is balancing the weight and utility of your gear. Each item should serve a purpose without adding unnecessary weight to your pack. So, leave the kitchen sink at home!

Tips and Tricks for a Successful First Backpacking Trip

Start small with an overnight trip to get the hang of things. Always prioritise safety – know your emergency procedures and pack a first aid kit. When it comes to food, think easy-to-cook, high-energy meals. This isn’t just a trip; it’s an adventure, so fuel up accordingly!

Setting up camp for the first time is a rite of passage. Take your time, find a spot with a view, and make it your home for the night. Remember, it’s not a race; enjoy the journey, soak in the sights, and maybe even keep a journal or snap some photos to capture the memories.

Adventure Awaits

Once you’re back, take a moment to reflect on what you’ve achieved. How did it feel sleeping under the stars? What would you do differently next time? Oh, and remember to clean and store your gear properly – it’s your trusty companion for future adventures. And speaking of future adventures, it’s never too early to start planning the next one!

There’s a whole world out there just waiting to be explored on foot, and you’re just getting started. Backpacking is a journey of discovery, not just of places, but of your own strengths and capabilities. We’d love to hear about your first backpacking adventures! Share your stories with us on Facebook and Instagram. And don’t forget, for all your backpacking gear needs, head to your nearest Makro or Game store. See you on the trail!

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