Hiking is a great way to get outdoors, get exercise, let go of stress, and build relationships with others and with nature. There is a lot that can go into a hike, but it doesn’t have to be stressful (it can actually be quite fun!). There are some things, though, that seasoned hikers learn along the way from trial and error that we would like to share with you so that you can learn without the errors, at least on some things! Today we are going to share 43 clever and useful hiking tips and tricks. Here they are!
1. Plan Ahead
Planning ahead is a critical first step for beginning and experienced hikers! By taking the necessary precautions and preparations before starting your hike, you are setting yourself up for success (and potentially saving your life if you find yourself in trouble while out on a hike).
Some things to plan ahead for are learning the logistics and layout of your intended trek, packing appropriately for the weather and emergencies, and having a plan in place for potential obstacles.
2. Dress in Layers
It really sucks when you are cold and have no way to warm up. In the wilderness, this could mean frostbite or death. It’s also pretty uncomfortable when you are hot, but only have a sweater with you. By dressing in layers, you are allowing your body a chance to regulate, to wick moisture, and the option of flexibility.
You can start out with a base layer that is the layer touching your skin. Then a warmer middle layer. And then a waterproof outer layer for those surprise pop up showers.
3. Bring a Map, Compass and/or GPS
This seems simple and obvious. Having a topographical map of the area is helpful in case you get lost, and also to aide in your planning ahead. Knowing how to use a compass and the map are essential if you happen to get lost while out on a hike.
Even if you are familiar with the area you are hiking in, it is still a good idea to bring a map, compass, or GPS for those “just in case” moments.
4. Blister Proof your Feet
Getting blisters on your feet is a quick way to cut a hiking trip short. It’s excruciating trying to push through that. This issue can be easily avoided by taking preventative action and adding moleskin to your feet ahead of time. Another way to avoid blisters is to make sure your shoes fit properly and are broken in.
Here is a great guide on how to prevent and treat blisters when hiking.
5. Wear High Quality Socks and Footwear
The quality of footwear on a hike is the equivalent of a quality bed for sleeping. You need your feet to work and feel good to have a successful hike. Look for high quality socks that are moisture wicking, and quality footwear that are snug, but still give you a little wiggle room.
Merino Wool Hiking Socks
Merrell Waterproof Hiking Boot
6. Bring Extra Food
When you plan on hiking for a couple of hours so only bring a snack, but then take a wrong tour or decide to go a little further, your grumbling stomach might be chastising you for not planning ahead. Bringing extra food will ensure that you stay safe, healthy, and energized.
7. Let someone know where you are going
Letting someone know where you are going is the simplest precaution that could save your life. Think of Aron Ralston, the adventurer that had to cut his arm off to save his life. You don’t want to be that guy. Let someone know your travel plans, routes, and time frames.
8. Make your Pack Waterproof
Matches and a pair of dry socks are pretty useless if they aren’t dry. Or a cell phone or GPS. Showers can pop up at anytime.
Check out the two videos below for some tips on waterproofing your backpack.
9. Don't feed Wildlife
It might feel like a magical idea to feed a moose or a bear… until they attack you! Animals aren’t meant to thrive on human food. They aren’t meant to depend on people or feel accustomed to people feeding them.
By feeding them, they become more comfortable and might be more interested in wandering into a camp than finding food for themselves, which puts everyone at risk. Stick to watching them from a safe distance, or in the case of the bear, backing away slowly.
10. Bring a repair kit, tools, knife and firestarter
You never know when a situation might call for a repair kit, tools, knife, and firestarter. These are must-haves in your pack if you plan on hiking out on the trails.
11. Waterproof your Matches
Matches don’t work very well when they are wet. You can waterproof your matches by dipping them in melted wax, and then storing in a waterproof container. An even better way to waterproof your matches is to dip them in nail polish.
They won’t require any pre-striking cleaning with nail polish remover. Just put them and whatever you are using for striking in a waterproof bag of sorts.
12. Make your first hike short
Make your first hike short to ease yourself into what you need, what you are missing, what is comfortable and what isn’t. You can break in shoes, test out your gear, and see which trails and areas you prefer.
13. Don't wear Cotton
Cotton is very absorbing. You don’t want to hold water against your skin while you are hiking. Staying dry is one key to a happy hike. You especially don’t want cotton socks. If they get wet then you are asking for blisters!
14. Pack for easy access
When you pack your bag, try to pack it in the order that you will need it. You don’t want all of your food buried under all of your gear, otherwise you will have to take everything out every time you want a quick snack.
You can plan ahead by making a list of items you need and then when you will need them, and then pack accordingly.
15. Buy a Lightweight and Comfortable Backpack
Purchase a lightweight, comfortable backpack for hiking. Your gear will really add up as far as weight, so having a light pack will shed a little of the bulk, and the comfort will keep your whole body comfortable, allowing you to have the proper posture and no painful pressure points.
Osprey Packs Exos 48 Backpack
WEIGHT: 2lb 5oz
MAX WEIGHT REC: 40lb
16. Remove any Extra Food Packaging
Extra food packaging is just a waste in the first place. Minimize packaging as much as possible. The less you have, the less you will have to pack out, and you might eliminate a little bit of bulk from products and from the weight of your pack.
17. Learn Basic First Aid
No one wants to bleed out from an easily treated puncture wound. Or walk on a broken leg that isn’t stabilized. Or asphyxiate from an allergic reaction that could have been treated with benadryl. Or… you get the idea.
19. Take breaks every few hours
You might not realize that your body is tired or that you are hungry or thirsty until it is too late. Take frequent breaks and rest your body and energize it with food and drink.
Plan these breaks into your estimated travel times so that you won’t feel like you are behind schedule because they will be part of the schedule.
20. Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is essential for existence. If you want to live, drink up! Not alcohol or caffeine though. Even if you don’t feel thirsty, it’s a good idea to drink every 10 to 20 minutes. Dehydration won’t give you many warning signs until you are actually dehydrated. And that’s not any fun.
21. Bring Sun Protection
You will want some form of sun protection. Either sunscreen, long sleeved shirts, or hats. Burns can dehydrate you and damage your skin. Sun protection is a simple protection that will save you a lot of pain in the short and long term.
22. Get Fit before you Go
It might be a shock to the system if you go on a 20 mile hiking trip after spending the last 6 months eating cheetos and watching TV all day. Get your body and heart ready for rigorous hiking by working up to it with daily exercise.
source: wild and fit
23. Start Early in the Morning
Starting early in the morning has a few advantages. If you start early, you will have great photography light. If it’s a warmer day, you will get a good amount of hiking in before it gets hot. You might see more wildlife, as they are more active at dawn.
You can avoid some traffic on the road and at the parking lot of the trailhead (popular destinations can fill up quickly and usually have small parking lots). You can also avoid more people on the trail and at your destination.
25. Familiarize yourself with Poisonous Plants
Oh, you thought those berries looked tasty? Then you realized just how tasty they were as you vomited them up. Familiarizing yourself with poisonous plants can prevent a lot of pain. Being able to recognize the plants allows you to assess the situation and choose an alternate path or material.
26. Try Hiking Poles
Poles can increase your average hiking speed, reduce the impact on your legs, improve your balance, help you on treacherous terrain, and can be used as a weapon to fight off an attacking bear. It doesn’t hurt anything to give them a try!
28. Hiking with dogs
Bringing your dog on a hike can be a rewarding experience. Take the necessary precautions and proper etiquette when hiking with a furry companion and you will have a great adventure together.
29. Hiking Hygiene
Hygiene still matters when you are out on the trail, you will just have to be resourceful in how you handle it. Plan ahead and pack what you need to maintain hygiene. Also do your research ahead of time to learn proper ways to wash dishes, dispose of waste, and so on.
The Scrubba Portable Laundry Bag is great way to wash your clothes if your going on a multi day hike. The Bag is not heavy and will not use up much space in your backpack.
Scrubba Portable Laundry System Wash Bag
30. Purify your Water
Here are a few ways to purify your water. You might find yourself in a situation where you don’t have clean water. Knowing how to purify your water is an essential survival skill since you need water for survival.
31. Cold Weather Hiking
There are a few more preparations that you need when it comes to cold weather hiking, especially if you plan on camping. You’ll need to stay dry and warm, hydrate and eat more frequently, and protect yourself from the elements.
32. Always melt snow before consuming
If you come to a point that you need snow to provide you with hydration, melt it first. If you eat it straight in its snow form you will burn more energy trying to melt it, along with decreasing your body temperature; two things that you need to conserve and maintain at this point.
33. Share some things (tent, first aid kit) with others your hiking with
Hiking with a group has some advantages. One of them is lightening the load on your back. If one person brings a tent, one brings the camp stove, and so on, you each will have much less weight than if you had to carry all of those things yourself.
34. Leave nothing behind
The laws of hiking, at least to outdoor enthusiasts, is if you pack it in, you pack it out. Or the Leave No Trace philosophy of leaving the land and nature as close to the same as how you found it. We all have to abide by this rule if we want the backcountry to be usable for future generations.
35. Mosquito Net
it really sucks to get eaten alive by mosquito's. Bringing a mosquito net on your hike can save your skin and your sanity. They even have hats with a net attached.
Coleman Mosquito Head Net
36. Bring a small/lightweight tarp
A small lightweight tarp is a great item to have in your bag and can act as a shelter. It won’t be the most glamorous shelter, but it will keep you dry. There are even fancy tarps that have mosquito nets built in to keep the bugs away inside of your little home.
Lightweight Waterproof Multipurpose Tarp
38. Be Flexible
Flexibility is important in most aspects of life. Flexibility in hiking is no different. Plans change. There are tons of variables that are out of our control; animals, weather, terrain, and so on. Having flexibility will allow for a smoother hiking experience when you face an almost inevitable obstacle.
39. Bring a Book
Nothing seems more relaxing than reading a good book while perched near a waterfall that you hiked to that morning. Bring something that fill your spirit and you’ll receive a double dose of inspiration from the book and from the environment.
40. Budget Appropriately
It goes without saying that you should budget appropriately for your hiking trip. You’ll need to budget food, travel, gear, fees,
41. Make Friends along the way
Most things in more life are more fun if you have more than one person. Be open to making friendships with other hikers you meet, and even hikers from different meetup groups that you haven’t met before. Relationships and friendships are proven to improve your quality of life.
42. Hike at your own pace
There’s nothing asking for a quicker injury than hiking beyond your comfortable pace. If you hike with a group, it is usually common for the group to hike at the pace of the slowest person.
Always be sure that you can see the person in front of you and the person behind you to keep track of everyone and help prevent someone from getting lost.
43. Keep a positive Mental Attitude
Keeping a positive mental attitude can be the difference between a successful trip and a failed trip. Even if you hit some obstacles, a positive attitude will keep you from becoming angry and flustered and allow you to be flexible, and go with the flow.
So there you have it! 43 clever and useful hiking tips and tricks. Hiking is a lot of fun and good for your body and your mind. With practice and experience (or this list!), you will become a pro. The most important mantra to remember when it comes to deciding to go on a hike is “just do it!” Just get out, make plans, and have a blast.
Was this list helpful? Did you learn anything new? Let us know in the comments. If you enjoyed this article, please share with friends, family, and fellow hikers!