Before leaving on an extended hike, do yourself a favor–take a multi-night shakedown hike with all your equipment.
Unless you hike overnight several times a year, don’t try to wing it. And if you have new equipment, give it a test run. Set up your tent under trail conditions and sleep in it. The best way to make sure that you will sleep comfortably, is to test your pad and bag, and your sleep wear, on an overnight. Fire up that stove, whether it’s old or new. If you bought a new GPS unit, now is the time to learn how to use it.
During shakedown, you can organize your pack and gear the way you want it, so you’ll be ready to roll when you go on that long hike. You will be able to act quickly when the weather turns. You will be surprised at what you learn on a shakedown hike. Why doesn’t this food taste right? Should I bring seasoning? Is this water filter going to work, or do I want another option? How could I forget my packets of hot-chocolate? Yikes–I didn’t bring band-aids! I can never find my head lamp. I’m always losing my map.
You get the idea; it’s better to get the kinks worked out ahead of time. Or would you rather look confused and befuddled in front of your kids, the guys, your significant other?
In Canada we have something called the Hudson Bay start. The trappers used to take a short first day so they weren’t far from the forts and then camp the night. That way if there were any problems, they could go back and figure them out. Sadly, not many do that anymore!
That was a good practice. I wonder why they don’t do it anymore.