If you’re a hiker who has been at it for a while, you’re bound to have learned a thing or two.
Whether that lets you enjoy your hike better or saves you from troubles on the trail, odds are it’s worth sharing with the next generation of hikers.
I’m not talking about the usual “be prepared”, although that piece of advice is still valuable no matter what level of hiker you are.
I’m talking more about the stuff an average hiker wished they knew before they started out on the hiking trail.
Tried and Tested Hiking Hacks
Every hiker has their own “hiking hack” to share.
Below I’ve compiled a few of the best hiking hacks I’ve found through the years and over 10,000 miles on the trails…
1. Carry Short Hike Essentials
No matter how short your hike is, always carry the essentials.
You can never fully predict what can happen out on the trail even if it’s just a short one.
To lower the chances of canceling your hike or having to call for rescue, make sure to bring AT LEAST the essentials on your trip.
- Wear the right hiking clothes (long socks, trousers if possible, sun protection, and wicking material)
- Bring the right gear/shelter (multi tool, weapon, GPS, thermal blanket)
- Enough food (trail mix, nuts, jerky)
- Water (enough water to last a day or two if something goes wrong or a life straw)
- First aid supplies (basic wound treatment kit, splint, tape, analgesic, sutures)
You may also want to download offline maps and bring a fire starter kit as well as a flashlight or headlamp.
Check out the Hikers Top 20 Essential Travel Items.
2. Duct Taped Fixes Everything
Have you ever heard the saying “if you can’t fix it with duct tape, you’re not using enough duct tape?”
Duct tape is every hiker’s best friend. It can help you fix almost anything.
Need to patch a hole on something? Duct tape.
Don’t have a bandage to keep a wound sealed? Duct tape.
Need to leave a note or label for others to find? Duct tape.
Need to make something from scratch? Duct tape.
Duct tape is one of those hiking essentials you should never be without.
The problem is that carrying around a whole roll can take up valuable space.
Take some duct tape and roll it around your trekking pole shaft, lighters, water bottles, or anything that’s easily accessible and has enough space.
This way, you won’t need to rummage around in your backpack when you need the stuff and you’ll always have plenty to go around.
3. Sleeping Bag Sun Shield
Sometimes you just need to take an afternoon siesta after a long morning trail or large section on the backpacking trip…or simply to escape the extreme heat.
Your tent’s too hot and doesn’t provide enough shade from the sun’s heat.
Unzip your sleeping bag and drape it over your tent.
Your sleeping bag’s thick insulation provides better shade and can cool temperatures down enough for you to relax.
This also gets rid of any moisture trapped inside your sleeping bag and gets rid of any bugs that have made their way inside – a win-win.
Find all of the hiking gear you’ll need in our outdoor adventure gear shop.
4. Garbage Bag Waterproofing
When you hike as much as me, some rain is bound to fall – sometimes a bit too much rain.
So what do I do to keep my stuff from getting soaking wet?
I line my backpack with a trash bag.
It’s cheap, readily available, and keeps everything dry (as long as the trash bag has no holes).
You can then use the trash bag to store your trash and haul it out.
Sure, you can buy a waterproof backpack that keeps your stuff dry.
But these are often more expensive and you may not want to invest that much money into your hiking gear – yet.
Check out the Nine Critical Day Hike Essentials.
5. Put Your Fleece On Backwards
Most hikers have experienced it…
You go for a hike in the mountains wearing only a shirt and a jacket.
It’s too cold to take your jacket off but keeping it on produces an uncomfortable amount of back sweat.
You suddenly recall hearing about the value of layering clothes and wish you’d put more thought into your hiking ensemble but it’s too late now.
So what do you do?
You take your full zip jacket off and put it on backward (zipper side back).
This lets you keep your chest and arms warm while keeping your back cool and allowing sweat to evaporate.
You can pick up tried and tested outdoor gear in our hiking shop.
6. Learn to Love Toe Socks
Hiking blisters can form because of extreme cold or heat or anywhere there’s constant skin friction.
If you’re prone to getting blisters on your feet or toes because of your hiking boots, you may want to invest in toe socks.
Hear me out…
Yes, they look weird and are quite an acquired taste.
Yes, you may get laughed at by your hiking buddies.
But toe socks can give you the comfort you’re looking for while saving you from foot and toe blisters – especially during long, hot hikes.
Wearing them underneath your regular socks creates a cushioning effect that adds to your comfort.
Here are our 9 Critical Day Hike Essentials.
7. Navigate With Biodegradable Tape
There’s nothing scarier than being out deep in the wilderness and discovering you’re lost.
It’s many a hiker’s worst nightmare.
To make things worse, there may not be a cellphone signal in the woods so you won’t be able to use navigation apps to know where you are in real-time.
What do you do to prevent this?
Well, besides busting out your compass and paper map…
You take a page from “Hansel and Gretel” and leave a trail of “breadcrumbs” for you to follow back.
Only, learning from that particular duos mistake, you’ll use biodegradable tape that animals won’t be eating.
You can leave pieces of this tape along the way on rocks, trees, or branches to mark where you’ve been.
The beauty of this tape is that you don’t need to remove it after you’re done since it’ll deteriorate naturally over time.
Be sure to rate your next hiking experience on our hike finder tool.
8. Tuck in Your Pants
You may not be aware but there are plenty of things on the trail that want to eat you for dinner.
They follow your scent, your heat, and even the carbon dioxide from your breath.
No, I’m not talking about wolves or mountain lions (though they’re just as dangerous).
I’m talking about ticks, fleas, and other bugs hiding on the trail.
One simple way to protect yourself from these critters is to tuck your pants into your boots.
This prevents them from crawling into your boots and latching on to your legs.
By the way, this is Why Your Adventures Suck, 10 Insights For An Epic Year.
9. Cork Those Keys
If you’re planning to hike near the coast, jumping over rivers or streams, traversing waterfalls, or wading through swamps (or the Zion Narrows) it’s a good idea to make a cork key chain beforehand.
This ensures you won’t lose them in case they or you fall into the water.
Just make sure the cork is large enough to support the weight of your keys by trying it in a bucket of water first.
To your next adventure!