Chicago Backpackers is a club for those who share an enthusiasm for backpacking. We provide opportunities for backpacking education, trip organization, and backpacker networking.
Backpacking education: The club helps teach new backpackers about backpacking: hiking self-sustained for consecutive days in a wilderness area carrying all necessary supplies in a backpack. We do this through trips and clinics that provide opportunities for all members, old and new, to continually improve their skills in the safest possible situations.
Trip organization: The group's volunteer organizers plan a variety of trips throughout the year, from one-night beginners-only trips up to week-long advanced treks out west. Individual organizers choose the location, plan the route, help set up car pools, and take care of other trip logistics. Individual members are responsible for their own gear, their own food, and communicating with the organizer to ensure that everyone is on the same page before and during the trip.
Backpacker networking: By going on trips and frequenting the various online message boards, members are encouraged to connect with other backpackers who share similar interests, and plan their own trips using the Meetup interface to further enjoy the sport beyond what the Chicago Backpackers organizers can offer.
We practice low-impact, leave no trace backpacking. Our trips usually consist of 10 to 14 people to minimize the impact we will have on our favorite locations and new trails, to keep them as fresh as possible for ourselves and other backpackers.
What you can do to help:
Backpacking with a group provides many benefits, from safety in numbers to sharing essential but easily-shared gear like water filters. The organizers and event hosts volunteer their time and experience to make our trips as safe and smooth as possible, but we can’t do everything ourselves. In addition to preparing and carrying your own gear and food, you can help the club and its trips run smoothly by doing a few simple things.
Read: Until we actually get on the trail, most of the information we have to give you is written down in trip descriptions, emails, and announcements. If you don’t read the descriptions, or only read part of an email, you will miss valuable information, which could lead to a poor experience on the trail, or being dropped from a trip.
Communicate: If you have questions, ask. If an organizer or event host sends you an email or asks for information, please respond as quickly and as fully as possible. If you’re having a difficult time on the trail, speak up. Frequent and clear communication makes trip planning easier, carpooling smoother, and trail hiking safer.
Lend a hand: If you have a car and can drive others to the trailhead, indicate that on the carpool/ ICE information request form sent out before the trip starts. If you don’t have a car but are willing to drive, indicate that, as well. While we’re on the trail, follow Leave No Trace principles. While we’re in camp, volunteer to get water, gather firewood, etc. Remember that organizers and event hosts are volunteers, and backpacking in a group is a team effort. When we all work together, trips are safer and run more smoothly for everyone.