Basecamping vs. Backpacking: What’s right for you?

Basecamping: “all-inclusive” day hiking.  Backpacking: beauty and solitude you have to work for.  Both types of trips offered by Wildland are a great way to immerse yourself in the natural world.  Take a look below to decide which trip style is right for you!

Basecamping:

You want wild meets comfort.

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Basecamping is for those adventurers who are looking for an outdoor experience with all the amenities of home.  On one of our basecamping trips expect to have access to hot showers every evening and wonderful meals complete with fresh produce daily. You can get the satisfaction of hiking hard during the day, and return to the campsite knowing a large comfy sleeping pad awaits you.

You want to introduce your kids to the joy of an outdoor adventure trip.

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While youth are absolutely able to join in on a backpacking trip, sometimes this can be a hit or miss experience for the child based on many variables.  Backpacking tends to be more constrained by non-negotiable factors like weather, water sources, and time.  On a basecamping trip you go on day hikes within a national park or wilderness area.  Each hike is planned and can be further customized to meet a families’ needs.

You want it all taken care of.Escalante Basecamp Slide 5

A basecamp trip could be described as an “all inclusive” sort of trip.  Everything you may need to think of is taken care of for you by the guides.  Food, local stops for souvenirs, the daily itinerary, bathroom breaks for the kids, hiking gear, equipment set up and take down, all of these things are pre-arranged for you prior to your trip. We even pack a bath towel and shampoo if you end up forgetting your toiletries!  If you want to be in an awe inspring place and just focus on appreciating the natural beauty, choose one of our basecamp trips.  One of our favorites is the 5-day Escalante Basecamp tour.

You have a larger group of people in mind.

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Due to the nature of permitting and regulations in backcountry areas, oftentimes, backpacking trips are confined to a smaller amount of guests.  Therefore, if you want to share an experience with more friends/family (i.e. 6 or more generally) consider a basecamping trip as oppose to backpacking.  Because these trips have more access to local ammenities, a trip like this can accomodate a variety of needs on the fly.

You are a solo traveler looking to meet new like-minded friends!

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Solo travelers rejoice!  If you are someone who enjoys traveling alone, but also enjoys swapping fun stories across a campfire with fellow singles, this trip type is a solid choice.  A basecamping trip by its nature, has a built in communal aspect.  We eat our meals together and hike together, which tends to bring people close quickly.  So, if you are interested in a sunset hike with a few new friends just waiting to happen, a basecamp is definitely for you.  It it important to note on these trips that, while the social aspect is true, there is always the option to create space for alone time.

Backpacking. 

You are someone who thrives on a physical challenge.

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Backpacking is hard, hard work.  It will be challenging to your mind and your body for 3-7 long days, depending on your trip.  You are on your feet most of the day, taking in the sights around you, with a 35-50lb pack on you at all times.  You will not be able to shower on a trip like this, but you will get in touch with your feral, inner wild child side.  A trip like this is not for the faint of heart, but it is worth every once of effort.  If you do a backpacking trip, expect to come away from it with a new self-confidence that comes from doing hard things.

You are craving solitude and a true digital detox.

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Oftentimes you will not seen anyone besides your guide and fellow trip goers for 3-4 days. Even with the pervasiveness of cell reception,  many of the backcountry areas we operate does not have cell reception.  Unplug, know that your responsible guide carries a satellite phone in case of emergencies, and relish in the fact that the only notification you will get is from the birds or squirrels.

You want to learn a new skill as part of your vacation.

A single tent pitched on a dirt surface in front of trees and a sunset

Backpacking is not something many of us do regularly.  On a backpacking trip you must be able to pack and unpack all of your worldly possessions daily.  While it may not seem too hard, imagine putting everything into a 90 L space!  If you are ready to have a spiked learning curve for a few days, consider backpacking with us.  Your guide will show you the tips and tricks needed to make everything–sleeping bag, sleeping mat, a tent, clothing, food, and water–all fit on your back.  The satisfaction that comes from doing something this challenging will get you hooked for life as a thru-hiker.

You value simplicity in meals.

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Any meal you eat on a Wildland trip is going to be amazing, guaranteed.  However, due to the fact that we must carry all the group’s food for the whole trip in our packs, this puts some limits on menu options.  You can expect some fresh produce on the front and back end of a backpacking trip.  During the middle of the trip, most meals are dried goods that are rehydrated and cooked by your guide.  So, think along the lines of hearty stews, pancakes and sausage, soups, and pastas.  

You prefer a more smaller group setting.

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Our backpacking trips tend to have a smaller amount of people, whether that is a few couples or 5 solo hikers.  On a backpacking trip we hike long hours in the backcountry. As long as you keep your guide in sight you can be as introverted as you need. Downtime happens more frequently on a backpacking trip once the next camp is all set up.  So, if you are craving a hard day’s hike in exchange for time to read your book by the creek, consider a backpacking trip.

Choosing a trip style can be a big move.  However, regardless of trip style, you can expect a high standard of excellence and safety that is unparalleled in the industry. On each and every hike our guides deliver interpretative knowledge of the flora and fauna of an area, as well as cook up great food at the end of the day.  Whether you choose a base-camping or backpacking, you will receive a memorable adventure!  

Traci Salisbury

Traci Ann is an author and outdoor guide based in Salt Lake City, Utah. She leads WTC hiking trips in Utah, Death Valley and Yellowstone, and released her first book, "Authentic. Sexy. Truth: One woman. One Truth. Lots of brave." in April of 2016. She has also been featured in "That Magazine for Women" and co-authored "Go! Girl Guides: Argentina" released in 2012.

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