A Quick List to Get You Packing
This page is devoted to hiking tips. This is not intended to be an all-inclusive list of do’s and don’ts. Instead it is intended as a mental checklist or jumping-off point as you prepare for your hiking adventure.
You may wish to print out these hiking tips as you plan your adventure. Use a highlighter to bring key points to your attention and a pen to add your own thoughts as this information prompts ideas to come to mind.
These guidelines are broken into categories so that you can quickly scan the hiking tips that most interest you. Bulleted lists provide quick, summary information. Underlined blue type-face offers a link to a page which discusses the hiking tips in more detail. Simply click on the link for more information. Use your browser’s back button or the menu on the left to return here for more Hiking Tips.
- Keep it light
- Pack it dry
- Utilize plenty of variety
- Nutrition and calorie dense choices are a must as you will be expending much more energy than usual. Yea! Bring on the M&Ms!
- Plan on nutritious snacks along the trail. 3-squares are NOT enough
- Backpacking stoves are a must as most areas limit or forbid open fires
- Adapt your favorite foods to a light version for best satisfaction
- You don’t have to buy expensive, freeze dried “backpacking foods.” Your local grocery and dollar store have a wide variety of lightweight, nutrition dense foods well suited to backpacking
- If dehydrating your own food at home, add a little extra seasoning/spices to compensate for those lost in the dehydration process
- You will need 2 to 3 quarts per day while hiking AT A MINIMUM
- Additional water will be required for longer hiking days, hotter/dryer climates, meal preparation, bathing and washing dishes
- Do NOT run low—top off your water bottle often
- Wild water cannot be deemed safe to drink.
- Carry iodine tablets (at a minimum) for water purification.
- Most hikers carry a water pump/filter
- Avoid cotton everywhere from your underwear to your outer jacket. Cotton holds moisture from sweat and rain. It is cold when wet and dries very slowly. Cotton underwear will chafe and rub you raw. Cotton outer clothing does not insulate (especially when wet) and will leave you cold and in danger of hypothermia
- Zip-off nylon pants that go from long pants to shorts with the aid of a zipper are best
- Fleece is your best insulator. You should, at a minimum, have a fleece vest/jacket AND a fleece hat
- A zip off jacket/vest is more versatile than a pull-over
- Layering is key. A few light layers will significantly out-perform one heavy layer.
- The type of footwear will be determined by the conditions that you anticipate.
- Carry the minimum size that you need for the trip you are planning.
- Going with a partner? Carry enough space for 2.
- Going alone or with someone you don’t want to share a room with? Most experienced hikers have a solo tent for that purpose
- The inside of a tent is warmer than the outside air largely because of you exhaled breath. The smaller the space, the easier it is for your breath to warm it
- With backpacking shelters, bigger is not better
- Know as much as you can about your destination before you pack
- Knowing WHERE you will make camp will help you decide what type of shelter you will need
- Most novice backpackers have a picture of what a “backpacking shelter/tent” is. Consider your options, there are many
- You WILL fill it to capacity. Choose the pack size accordingly
- Always take the 10 essentials—even when day hiking
- Pack out everything you pack in
- Keep your bed (sleeping bag) dry
- Fill your backpack logically so you can find what you need in a hurry
- The waist belt of your backpack should rest on the top of your hip bones
- The shoulder straps should be adjusted snugly enough to keep the pack against your back and should not give you the feeling that the pack is pulling you backward
- The Mummy rules. It is light, compact and slim at the feet. This allows for room where you need it (shoulders/hips) and less room where you don’t need it (at the feet, which helps to keep your feet warm)
- Choose a down bag if you are fairly certain you can keep it dry
- Choose a synthetic bag if conditions may get nasty
- A sleeping pad is a must-have. Don’t discount its importance. The greatest sleeping bag in the world won’t keep you warm if you are lying on the cold, wet ground
- Plan ahead
- Take a map of the area you will be hiking
- Orient your compass early and often
- Call the rangers in or around the area where you will be hiking. Ask about safety issues. Some examples of things to ask are:
(1) Are there water crossings that might swell making them impassable after heavy rain?
(2) What wild animals are in the area—bears, mountain lions, etc?
(3) Are open fires permitted?
(4) Have there been any recent human predator attacks in the area?
(5) What level of difficulty would you assess on the trail I have chosen?
(6) What else should I know about this particular area?
- Start slowly by walking around the neighborhood
- Slowly add weight to your back and increase the load as you become comfortable
- Climb stairs (run the local football stadium steps)
- Your canine hiking companion needs physical conditioning too. Begin preparing him well ahead of time and he will carry his own load.
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Now that you have perused the hiking tips, highlighted and added your own thoughts to this list, GET PACKING! Your next adventure is just a few steps away.
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