Hiking Tips & Tricks

General Tips & Tricks

  1. Safety first, ultralight is not always right, your safety is more important, make sure you have the gear you will need for the weather you will encounter.
  2. When shopping for a backpack, remember the weight of the backpack isn’t as important as with other items that go inside your pack. The most important things are comfort and the ability to carry the weights that you will be carrying.
  3. It helps me to sleep with my feet on top of my backpack, that way it elevates them, so they don’t swell up since I have been walking of them all day, then my shoes fit like they should everyday, instead of causing blisters because your feet don’t fit into the shoes like they did when you bought them.
  4. Sleeping with your feet on your pack helps because then you only need a 1/2 to 3/4 length sleeping pad since your pack will make up the difference.
  5. I also carry Superfeet® and orthotics and switch around at some point during the day, that way my feet get a different feel and I am not walking on the same exact places of my feet all of the time, hopefully alleviating repetition injuries.
  6. Keep your toe nails clipped
  7. When the weather is bad make sure to eat, even if you have to stop for a short time, otherwise you will feel extra cold. It helps to always have 1 days worth of food that is easily edible while walking and handy to get to without stopping and digging through your pack
  8. If you are in very cold weather and your alcohol stove won’t light, then light a square of paper or toilet paper and hold it to the fuel that you have already poured into the stove and it will heat up the fuel and ignite it. Using this method an alcohol stove will work through the winter without a problem.
  9. For many reasons, try not to camp near water; the first being most people camp near water/meadows so the areas are usually the most impacted, the second is that the air is usually moist during the night so it leaves a heavier dew on your tent, tarp, or sleeping bag, and the third being that the air usually gets colder during the night near water.
  10. Check what time it is at known locations, so you can calculate how far you think you are from a certain place and where you probably are on the map, in case you get lost.
  11. If you are travelling in the spring on snowpack, for example the PCT in the Sierras, break camp very early and try to travel as much as possible early in the day when the walking will be much easier and the snow is solid and not like mashed potatoes.
  12. Also, cross difficult streams early in the day, when snow melt/glacial run-off is lowest.
  13. When crossing difficult streams of snowfields, remember that the best places to cross might not necessarily be where the trail crosses the stream or snowfield. It can be better to just meet back up with the trail after.
  14. A stick or trekking pole helps a lot with balance when crossing a stream.
  15. It is usually easier to cross a swift stream at an angle heading slightly downstream, that way the stream is helping you take steps instead of making it harder on you.
  16. If you think the stream crossing is dangerous, then make your partner go first. Just kidding, but definitely cross one at a time, so that you don’t both get into trouble at the same time.
  17. When you fill up your water bottle in cold weather, only fill it 3/4 of the way so the water can move around and help prevent it from freezing, also pack your water bottle upside-down so the water doesn’t freeze solid around the mouth piece.
  18. To help add miles to your day or in cold or bad weather, make your breaks shorter by packing what you will need (i.e. food, extra layer, change of socks) easily accessible.
  19. Don’t overpack or overdress for a cold weather trip. when you are actually hiking or doing something active you won’t need that many layers because you will be generating a lot of body heat and you don’t want to get a bunch of layers wet with sweat.
  20. It is good to check your maps about every hour to get a feel of where you are and what time it is, that way when you get off trail you have an idea of about where you are and how far off trail that you may be.
  21. In the winter or if you may encounter freezing temperatures overnight, carry an extra garbage bag to put your shoes in then you can put the bag under your sleeping bag.
  22. When hiking across snowfields in the spring stay away from the rocks, you are usually better off staying on the snow and not trying to jump to rocks because the snow melts out first around the rocks because they get warm from the sun so there is usually holes around the rocks that you will post-hole into.
  23. To tell which direction is South you can line the hour hand up on your analog watch with the sun and halfway between the hour hand and the 12 is South
  24. To tell how long until the sun is going to set, hold your hand up with your fingers touching and cover the sun with your thumb, each one of your fingers is 15 minutes. Using this you can calculate how long until the sun will drop below the horizon or behind a mountain.