Pearls of Backpacking Wisdom for a More Perfect Trek (a.k.a. Hiking Tips to make the outdoor experience safer and more enjoyable.)
• Reduce pack weight—don’t bring it, if you don’t need it. e.g., If there’s water along the way, filter water rather than carrying it to drastically reduce pack weight.
• Tell someone where you’re going and for how long.
• Mountain weather can turn on a dime—make sure you have appropriate rain gear.
• Hydrate before setting out.
• If it’s hot out, wear light-colored clothing, and hike in a thin, moisture-wicking base layer to absorb and dry your sweat.
• Leave a change of clothes in your car. If you’re wet at the end of your trip, you can have a dry ride home.
Things to take
• Duct tape. From clothing to gear, it fixes just about anything.
• Extra hipbelt buckle for your pack. If your pack has a top lid that converts into a lumbar pack, often its buckle can serve as a spare for your hipbelt.
• A stuff sack makes a perfect pillow case. Stuff your lightweight fleece (or a if it’s colder) into a stuff sack to make a pillow.
• The spork is key. Lightweight, multi-purpose utensil.
• Avoid cotton. Once it’s wet, it’ll stay that way, and you’ll freeze.
• Don’t forget your Ursack if you’re in bear country.
• A pocket knife or multi-tool is an absolute must.
• Hydration packs all the way. Forget water bottles!
• Take extra shoe laces for your boots—the cheap drugstore kind will do. Pop ’em in your pack and keep them there forever.
• Keep quick energy handy, like a Carb Boom in your pocket. Many of us swear by this stuff.
• At the very least, take a basic first-aid kit.
• Use the Rest Step: When ascending steeper terrain, lock your back leg at the knee and pause briefly before taking your next step to reduce muscle fatigue. It works!
• Remember to pump out your water filter after each use so you’re not carrying extra weight.
• Eat before you get hungry and drink before you get thirsty. You’ll be less likely to bonk.
• Eat a series of small meals rather than a couple of large meals to keep energy levels consistent.
• During extended rests, loosen your shoes and put your feet up to reduce swelling and give them a nice rest.
• Carry a spare handkerchief to dip in cool streams and spread over your neck, forehead, etc. for a quick cool down.