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. 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.
4. 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. 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.
8. Don’t wear Cotton
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. Bring a First Aid Kit
It might be difficult to administer basic first aid if you don’t bring your first aid kit. You can create your own kit or purchase pre-made first aid kits for hiking from most major outdoor retailers.
12. Learn how to estimate remaining Daylight
It’s a good idea to learn how to estimate remaining daylight. Hiking at night can be dangerous for many reasons. Here is a great how-to on how to estimate how much daylight you have left.
13. 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.