Guide to Practical Backpacking in Fictional Landscapes

All of us have wanted to transport to the fantastical, fictional places portrayed in our favorite books. Backpacking through Europe has nothing on these locations.

North of the Wall (Game of Thrones) // Winter

Minus the White Walkers, the biggest danger when backpacking north of the Wall is the biting cold. The first rule is to wear the right fabric. Stick to synthetic clothing; cotton will hold in moisture, something you don’t want. Layering is key, but you don’t want all the bulk that comes with it. We suggest a down jacket, like the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Jacket or the Arc’teryx Atom Insulated Jacket. If you don’t like down, try one like this North Face Thermoball Insulated Hoodie, a synthetic coat great for layering under and over items of clothing. A big bonus is that it can bunch up super small to store in your pack.

For the camping portion of your backpacking excursion, make sure to stay extra warm once you stop moving. Get your fire going and get inside that tent. Maybe warm a few rocks by the fire and keep them in your tent for added heat. Another tip? Double up on sleeping pads, which help insulate you from the cold ground, and wear dry socks.

Hike it in real life: Mainland Ice Caves, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin can be done in a day, and it’ll definitely give you that north of the Wall feel. Or take a weekend trip to Mt. Hood National Forest in Oregon before winter ends and immerse in the wonderland.


Mirkwood (The Hobbit) // Forest

For those who crave the mythical, Mirkwood (formerly Greenwood the Great) is your place. It has a rainforest vibe, so make sure you pack a quality waterproof jacket.

Investing in solid footwear is a must. We lack the hobbit feet necessary to go without. Ankle boots work great to ward off twisted ankles, and make sure to get a pair that leaves plenty of room in the toe area. If your toes are hitting the end of your boot, you could risk injury, especially when going on a continual downward slope. Our favorite boot? The Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boot, which comes in men’s and women’s.

Hike it in real life: Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park, Washington—Backpacker Magazine’s March 2016 issue actually describes this park to have Lord of the Rings scenery.


The Road // Post-Apocalyptic

The end of the world can be scary if you aren’t prepared. These tips will keep you going even in a nuclear winter.

Like the winter in Game of Thrones, wearing synthetic clothing instead of cotton is key. Also, since this hike will keep you much longer than a weekend (how long do apocalypses last?), you’ll want to pack the essentials only. Learn to survive with less. A machete may be a smart move as well, in case anyone tries to rob you. Practice self-defense.

In packing light, you’ll have room for enough water. Make sure to carry enough with you. In these kinds of conditions it may be difficult to find drinking water, if any water at all. For any backpacking trip—but especially this one–the Sawyer Mini is a reliable and cheap way to filter water. For food, pack items that won’t perish, like GORP (good old raisins and peanuts—and maybe toss in some cereal for good measure), granola bars, and dehydrated meals.

Hike it in real life: For this one, you’ll probably have to wait for an actual apocalypse, if you want to do it right. Or just walk down any abandoned road and pretend.


The Quarter Quell Island (Catching Fire) // Coastal

If you’re planning on backpacking along the coast of the island from the 75th Hunger Games, there are some major things to note. The first of which is to keep moving and stay away from the lightning tree, poisonous fog, blood rain, and jabberjays.

Hiking in sand is way different—it requires a much lighter pack, considering the sand makes your pace slow to a slog. Your heaviest items should be food and water. Make sure you drink and eat enough on a coastal hike. If you wait to drink water until you are thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Keep up your fluid intake and stop to refuel. The sand makes your hike even harder. You’ll burn way more calories, so make sure you replenish them as you go.

And hey, if you have access to a giant cornucopia filled with all kinds of survival gear, put it to good use.

Hike it in real life: The Lost Coast in California is about five hours north of San Francisco. True to its name, it hugs tight to the beach. It’s been said it’s one of the best hikes ever. 

Christina Schillaci

Christina Schillaci

Christina is the voice behind Quirk’s social media channels and editor-in-chief of the blog. She graduated from Rowan University with her M.A. in Writing and joined Quirk in 2016. She loves weekend cooking projects, Cape May in the winter, and her dog, Rocket. Say hi on Twitter @quirkbooks or @saychristina!