A fitness movement built around traveling.

How to Stay Fit While Backpacking

How to Stay Fit While Backpacking

No gym? No weights? That's no problem with these tips for maintaining a fitness routine while backpacking.

There's nothing like backpacking. Being on your own or with your close companions with nothing but what you can carry are a great way to adventure and explore this beautiful world we live in.

Whether you're hitting the outdoors or wandering through cities, backpacking can be challenging for the fitness-minded adventurer. Sure, you'll probably be doing a lot of walking but that hardly counts as a workout. When you're serious about being fit and healthy, you need more than that. 

Pack Right

As any frequent traveler knows, traveling light is essential. So packing a tub of protein powder and a kettlebell is out of the question. Keep it simple by packing small and light items. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need bulky fitness gear to stay fit.

Jump Rope

A jump rope is a great conditioning tool that is small enough to take up minimal space. It’s incredibly effective for burning calories and improving your athleticism and is light enough to be very travel-friendly. It is hands down the single best conditioning tool you can carry in a bag.

Research has shown that jumping rope burns more calories than the treadmill over the same period. Jumping rope is great to include in your warm-up routine and is a perfect finisher at the end of your workout to burn extra calories. As if that isn’t good enough, you can always have it with you. If you’re going to be traveling, get yourself a jump rope.

Protein Bars

Then there’s snacks. It’s easy to overindulge on the wrong foods when traveling. To help avoid this, be sure to pack some healthy snack options for the trip. The better options include trail mix, nuts, dried fruits and protein bars. Also, consider your mindset about food and nutrition when you’re traveling.

Food should be viewed as fuel for your body, providing you with the energy you need to get through busy travel days, meetings, sight-seeing and workouts. As long as you choose the right ones, protein bars are one of the best healthy travel snacks.

The 5 Best Protein Bars For Healthy Travel

Master Your Bodyweight

Photo: Crossfit.com

Photo: Crossfit.com

Using your own weight as resistance will build strength and burn fat. It doesn't require weights or machines so you can do it anywhere (perfect for backpacking).

The primary benefit of bodyweight training is that several muscle groups work together. The lack of isolation causes the need for multiple muscle groups to work together to properly perform the movement.

So doing a push-up, for example, requires the chest, shoulders, triceps, abs, obliques, back, and glutes to all work together to lower your body to the floor and to properly get you back into the up position. This triggers a metabolic response that will cause your body to burn calories long after your workout has ended. 

Bodyweight movements also have tremendous carryover to everyday life activities. Performing squats will improve your mechanics getting up from a chair. Things like posture and muscular imbalances will improve. You will strengthen your muscles and joints, leading to less likelihood of injury.

As you get better and progress with bodyweight movements, you can add a weighted vest or hold a dumbbell or kettlebell for increased resistance. There are also countless variations to increase difficulty, including incorporating unilateral (one-arm or one-leg) movements or changing leverage by elevating your feet during push-ups, for example.

You can't go wrong with the basic movements. Master the push-up, pull-up, squat, glute bridge and burpee and you'll have all your bases covered.

This workout is four-time Fittest Man on Earth Rich Froning's go-to travel workout.

5 Rounds For Time:

"A bodyweight workout that you can automatically do on a travel day or when you're stuck inside is essential. You really don’t need any gym equipment to challenge yourself with a tough workout," says Rich.

Want to know more about staying fit while traveling? Get Fit For Travel!

There's an App For That

There's an app for everything, including working out. Instead of hiring a coach or personal trainer, you can download an app that will give you workouts, keep you accountable, and track your progress. 

There are a few different apps that make up the Freeletics package - Bodyweight (the most popular one), Gym, Nutrition, and Running. Within each one, there's a free version and a paid version. 


The Bodyweight app might be the best option for travelers looking for quick, effective workouts that they can do anywhere. The free version is a fitness training program with 10-30 minute bodyweight workouts that require no equipment. There are over 900 workout variations and they cover all of your major muscle groups. It comes with tutorial videos to help you with exercises you don't know and to get the right form on them. 

The paid version is called "The Coach" and is a personalized digital trainer. It's a program developed for you based on your age, weight, goals, abilities, and availability. 

Training and nutrition costs $3.35 a week, while training only costs $2.30 a week. With the purchase of either one, you'll get access to personalized training plans in the Bodyweight, Gym, and Running apps.

Read our in-depth review of Freeletics here.

Use Your Backpack

Bodyweight training is the obvious backup and it's great. But its does have limitations. Plus it's fun to get creative with new toys. And that's where the genius of a backpack that turns into a weight training pack comes in. 


Photo: Evolved Motion

Photo: Evolved Motion

Crossfit athlete and coach Emily Schromm brought this idea to life when she launched Evolved Motion and the EmPack on Kickstarter in 2015. EmPack now provides travelers with an incredibly effective and convenient tool for growing stronger and leaner with progressively harder workouts while traveling.

The EmPack is the first and only backpack designed for use as a weight training tool. It's incredibly practical for travelers - it's a backpack after all, so you're probably bringing one on the road anyway. 

Water bladders allow you to easily add weight and it's made from military-grade Cordura fabric, so you know it's durable. Use it as a barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, or to add weight to your favorite bodyweight exercises.

Bottom Line

You owe it to yourself to reap the many benefits of exercise and enhance your travel experience by making time to workout. Do yoga, go for a run, or crush sets of push-ups, squats and burpees right in your hotel room. The choice is yours but make sure you do it. 

Cover Photo: Crossfit.com

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