Backpacking today is a lot easier and more fun then it was in the when it started. People are able to backpack with all the things they love from their homes, such as computers, phones and even watch TV on their trips. Due to all the latest technology like solar panels to charge all their equipment. Back then it was a different story. A lot of people backpacked for necessity either because of disease, starvation, wild animal attacks or robbers to name a few. It wasn’t till the 17th century people traveled for educational or entertainment purposes.
Wealthy European men were sent on a “grand tour” one last hurrah before they settled into marriage and careers. Just like the pre-college trips the teenagers in Europe take these days. Giovanni Careri was the first pioneer to travel the globe for fun. He did this travel in 80 days and wrote the accompanying book “Around the World in Eighty Days’. He was able to do this by smuggling valuables from country to country. The earliest backpackers were the ancient hunters-gatherers. Where they followed animals and ate the wild fruits. These nomadic tribes were the Aborigine Australians, South African Bushmen. Pygmy Tribes of the Congo and the Native Americans.
In 1492 Christopher Columbus ventured to America and David Livingstone explored Africa in 1841 are just two of the many explorers who paved the way for backpackers. In 1920 Lloyd F. Nelson invented the camping backpack by adding a pack board to make the pack more comfortable. Before that the backpack was just a loose sack with shoulder straps. In 1965 President Lyndon Johns proposed the National Scenic Trail Act which encouraged individuals to discover the outdoors and appreciate nature more. This provided hikers with well-defined trails to follow. Greg Lowe designed the internal fame backpack which distributes pack weight across the hips. And the backpacking gear got better from wooden frame to aluminum tubing, heavy canvas to waterproof nylon, steel cookware to titanium, wool clothing to quick dry synthetics and petroleum/wood for stoves to alcohol/butane.
In 1910 backpack is coined. In the 1940’s post World War 2 more people had time to travel so the travel trailer and camping grew in popularity. Because of the military design backpacking gear goes lighter with aluminum-alloy frames. Then the lighter frames become popular with outdoor enthusiasts. Then 1970’s lighter weight nylon backpacks are everywhere. In 1990 the program Leave No Trace Behind is developed. In 2000 all the best innovations in shelter, sleeping bags, cookware get lighter and easier to carry.
The best is yet to come as the principles of the program Leave No Trace Behind become important for our eco-conscious society and so backpacking will grow more and more. Leave nature as you found it don’t disrupt it and our beautiful wild life will continue to flourish.