December 27, 2019
Whether you’re planning your first hiking expedition or have been exploring the outdoors for decades, the same truth applies: There’s always something new to learn. No matter your level of experience, hiking is more than a hobby. It’s a sport that requires preparedness, perseverance, and an open mind. Apply these 10 hiking hacks for your next trip, and we hope you’ll find the experience easier, safer, and even more fun.
1. Keep Items Weather-Protected
You never know what kind of rain, snow, or other inclement weather may hit. Even humidity and condensation can create unexpected dampness and wreak havoc on your belongings. Keep any electronic devices or must-stay-dry essentials in Ziploc bags to ensure they do indeed stay dry no matter what the day brings.
2. Set Hydration Goals
You might assume you won’t need any hydration reminders, as your exerted energy and tired body will do all the nudging you need. However, even experienced hikers will tell you they sometimes forget to drink enough, particularly in cold weather hiking. Mark sections of your water bottle with times of the day to remind you how much you should be drinking and ensure you’re properly hydrated.
3. Keep Blisters at Bay
Coat typical problem areas with petroleum jelly before putting on your socks and shoes to help prevent blisters. Alternatively, you can place a pre-emptive bandaid or moleskin on the areas you know will start bothering you. Once blisters form, it makes it hard to continue, so you want to prevent them as much as possible.
4. Don’t Forget the Duct Tape
Duct tape can be used to remedy a world of ailments, including applying to blistered feet to prevent further irritation. You can also use it to repair tents, shoes, backpacks, and more. Always have a roll handy in your backpack — you never know when something will tear, snap, or fray.
5. Learn the Botanical Basics
Whether you’re hiking on a well-marked trail or off the grid, chances are you’ll encounter some new vegetation. Some plants produce berries that will be a little sweet gift, while others are poisonous and should certainly be avoided. Brush up on your botanical studies to distinguish which plants are friends and which are foe. Also, refresh yourself on the look of common plants to avoid, like poison oak and ivy, to ensure you stay far away.
6. Prevent Accidental Battery Drainage
Both novices and experts have likely experienced the frustration of a torch or headlamp left accidentally switched on in the backpack and drained of life when you need it the most. Flip a battery the wrong way when not in use to prevent this from happening.
7. Use a Trash Bag for a Waterproof Barrier
Trash bags may not be among the glamorous line of hiking must-haves, but they work as waterproofing materials in a pinch. If you have any qualms about the durability of your backpack under heavy rain, line the inside with a trash bag to ensure the contents stay dry regardless of the weather.
8. Learn How to Read the Sun
If you don’t know when sunset is, you can use your hands to determine about how much daylight you have left.
With your palm facing you, extend your hand and arm straight out in front of you. Line up the bottom of your pinky finger with the horizon.
Each finger is equal to 15 minutes. So, if the sun is at the top of your four fingers, you’ll have about one hour of daylight left (4 x 15 minutes). If the sun is higher than that, you can “stack” your hands to figure out the total. By knowing how much light is left in the day, you can make wise decisions about when to turn back to set up camp before darkness falls.
9. Always Be Fire-Ready
Any hiker will know the importance of carrying matches or a lighter with them to be campfire ready at a moment’s notice. But if you’re searching to improve your firestarter kit, consider adding a highly flammable addition such as cotton balls doused in petroleum jelly or vaseline. These will start a rip-roaring fire in no time.
10. Learn Your Knots
Finally, don’t skimp out on learning the basics of a few good knots. Take a few YouTube tutorials or ask a friend to teach you. You never know when you’ll need this skill on the trail, but when you do, you’ll want it ready in your back pocket.
Gear up for Your Hiking Trip With Dutchware
Stock up on everything you need for your upcoming trip with our line of quality and lightweight hiking must-haves. From rope and rolled goods to breathable fabric and waterproof backpacks, shop at Dutchware to set off feeling fully prepared for the adventure ahead. Browse our gear inventory to get started.
Written & Reviewed by Dutch