Trust me, I know why you hike. You love being out in nature and you want to stay fit. Hiking is a great way to satisfy both essential human needs. Being in nature — a very engaging environment — helps the time go by and makes working out much more interesting. It feels like less of a chore. What if I told you that these five essential hiking tips can help you get even more out of your time on the trail?
These tips are simple and some may seem obvious. When you adopt them as part of your routine, however, you’ll see tangible benefits. Let’s get started.
1. Prepare For Everything With A Great Pack
There are some other things you need in your hiking pack to stay comfortable and safe out there, explorers! Consider some bug repellent, whether it is something you apply or carry with you. You also need some sun protection such as sunscreen and sunglasses that are durable and filter UV light.
Bring plenty of water and some way to start a fire, as well, even if you don’t think you’ll use it. You have to prepare for emergencies.
You should also have a portable emergency shelter, such as a tarp, and some tools in case you get stranded. Always bring an extra day’s worth of food with you, even on short hikes. You never know when you could get turned around.
That reminds me, bring a compass and a back up navigation tool just in case. Your GPS might not function in some areas or could get wet or broken.
If you don’t want to buy a complete first aid kit, you can pack some essentials in a used pill bottle. Adhesive bandages, antiseptic towels, gauze, and ibuprofen should all fit inside. You can drop your handy lighter in one, too. This simple system is compact and will keep things dry no matter what.
2. Splurge On Gear
As soon as you can, pick yourself up a high quality pair of hiking boots. If it’s summer, you can find some great hiking shoes that are lighter than boots, but boots will always be the safest footwear. A good pair of boots can prevent unforeseen injuries on the trail. That’s the kind of thing that can really ruin a hike. (Pro tip: If you’re on a long hike, pack a pair of running shoes like these from runnerclck.com or sandals like these from nicershoes.com for easy walking trials to give your feet a break from the boots)
Other gear you should consider is a small emergency pack, a rechargeable LED flashlight, and a light, packable rain poncho. Staying cool, dry, and protected from the elements is the way to go.
It’s a good idea to layer your clothing since conditions can change when you get into the woods or as you move to higher elevations. Things could get warmer or colder, in spite of the weather report.
I highly recommend some kind of hands-free camera device so you don’t have to fish around in your pocket or pack for your cell phone. There is bound to be some memorable moment you’d like to catch during your trek. Many people like the GoPro, but that isn’t the only model you can choose from.
An overlooked resource might be YouTube! Seek out some content creators who chronicle their time outdoors and find out what gear they use to capture their amazing photos and video. If you pick a hands-free mounted system, you’ll never have to stop moving for long.
If you’ve got the cash, splurge for a drone for really incredible aerial shots. The results are stunning and these are memories you can share with other hiking buddies and even your children someday.
4. Garbage Bags
Did you know that you can line the inside of your pack with a garbage bag? This one simple move will really help keep things dry in wet weather. In fact, I say pack a couple of bags in addition to that, too. Garbage bags and duct tape can be pretty helpful when you’re in a jam, since both items can be used to fashion protective gear, store food away from animals, and help you carry out what you carry in.
Duct tape comes in slimmer, hiker friendly sizes. You can find it in many outdoor stores and online. It’s easier to carry that way.
5. Petroleum Jelly Those Dogs!
This sounds gross, but hiking masters swear by it. Even a great pair of boots can be hard to break in or cause an occasional blister or five. That’s no good on a hike! You can slather on some protective petroleum jelly just on areas of your foot that are prone to rubbing. Then, put on your sock and boot.
This reduces friction that leads to painful callouses and blisters. Toss it into your pack if you have room for reapplication on the trail.
6. Tick Protection
This is no joke — ticks are a tiny thing that can ruin the rest of your life. I’m not trying to be dramatic, but I am trying to drive this point home to save you a lot of discomfort. Lyme disease is difficult to diagnose and difficult to treat as well. Preventing it is very important.
Always bring a pair of tweezers or a tick key with you and check yourself over periodically during your hike. The sooner you remove these nasty cling-ons, the better.
7. Binder Clips
Don’t worry, you don’t have to do any office work! Binder clips are a pretty underrated hack friendly item, though. They’re great for all sorts of things from securing bags to hanging wet clothes from your pack. They could even help you secure your makeshift shelter in a bind.
Pun intended. Sorry not sorry.
Have a Great Hike!
These hiking hacks should help you get your stuff together and get to the good part: enjoying time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. You’ll get some exercise in the process, which is great, cause hikers usually make lousy gym rats.
Do you have other hiking tips you swear by? Please share them with us! The comments section is ready and waiting for your pearls of wisdom.
Maybe I’ll see you on a trail sometime.
Louise is the founder of TheAdventureLand, where she and her associates blog about Outdoor experiences, tips & tricks that will help you have an exciting adventure. She is also a tour guide of travel company where she learned many things about wilderness. “Let’s pack our bags and explore the world!”