No matter your skill level, hiking is an activity that almost anyone can do. There are hikes all over the world that range in difficulty, and organizations (including federal, state, county, and local governments) maintain trails that make navigating the wilderness on hikes easy and safe. Some hikes are even accessible to those with physical disabilities that many people assume make hiking impossible. Hiking is great exercise, it's a good way to spend time with people when there are pandemics and you can't spend time together inside, and a way to better get to know the landscape around you.
Hiking sounds pretty great, right? And, in the most basic sense, all you have to do to hike is lace up some shoes and go to a trail that you can walk or climb on. However, with a little knowledge, you can make hiking a whole lot better than just a random walk in nature.
No matter whether you're an experienced hiker or you've never gone out before, when you're ready to try out the pastime, there are tips that you should know in order to have the best time possible while hiking. These invaluable hiking hacks will help ensure any hike you take is a safe, fun, and unforgettable one.
Prepare for Wildlife Encounters
Learn about the wildlife where you will be hiking. Are there bears around the area? Is it a season when mountain lions are roaming about? One of the best hiking hacks to keep you safe and confident is to spend some time learning what wildlife might be out where you are hiking and what you should do about those animals in case you encounter them.
In the wild, most animals don't want anything to do with humans. But if you accidentally encounter an animal in a way that causes it to feel threatened or aggressive toward you, you'll want to know in advance how to handle the situation. For example, learn how to store your food overnight if you're camping so you don't attract bears to your sleeping area.
Read about how to fend off a mountain lion feeling territorial or protective of its cubs. If you're hiking somewhere where there are a lot of snakes, buy snake gaiter leg guards. That way, if you're not staring at the ground while walking, a snake you accidentally scare or step on won't be able to bite your leg if it tries to.
Wear the Right Footwear
This might not seem like a hack, but it's essential. Invest in good hiking boots and try them on before you buy. Even go on a walk in your neighborhood in them before your hike so you'll be accustomed to how they feel on a long trail that is rocky and uneven, and also because you want to ensure they offer enough stability and cushioning to keep your feet and legs pain-free while you walk.
Once you've chosen the proper boots, make sure you get the right footwear accessories to go with them: waterproof socks and hiking gaiters. Both of these things will make sure you have proper cushioning and avoid blisters and wetness They'll also prolong the life of your hiking boot, which can be an investment. (And you'll want your boots to last because you're going to fall in love with hiking!)
Pack a Blanket
Even if you're not camping, pack a blanket. A waterproof pocket blanket will do. A blanket is a surface you can sit on when you need to rest and there's no chair around. It provides you with a place to have a snack and refuel. It can also be helpful if someone gets injured somehow and needs to be tended to or kept warm. The right blanket is lightweight and can fit easily in a pack or backpack.
Bring Snacks (and Pour Them To Eat)
Bring snacks on your hike, no matter what. You don't want anyone to experience low blood sugar and not be able to make it the whole way. Consider creating a trail mix in a big bag. Then, share it with the group. Instruct everyone to pour a handful of the mix into their hands as they pass the bag around. This stops everyone from reaching into the same bag and spreading germs.
Download Offline Maps
Many people hike using maps on their phones, or they have specific hiking trail apps. There are lots of great ways to navigate your hikes—choose the one that works best for you. Just make sure you also download offline versions of the maps you're using to find your routes or bring printed paper versions if that is easier for you. You will likely lose phone service if you go out into the wilderness to hike, and in the rare chance you get lost, you don't want to be relying on a cell signal that isn't there to get you back to where you need to go. Practice reading the maps just in case you need to use them, so they don't seem confusing to you once you're already out on your hiking adventure.
Use Tea Bags To Air Out Hiking Boots
Camping or taking a break? If you take off your hiking boots, throw a dry tea bag in each one. This is one of the best hiking hacks because it helps your boots smell better and dry out faster so that they're more comfortable to put back on. This can extend the life of your hiking boots and make sure they're around for a long time so that you can keep on hiking.
Pack and Bring an Emergency Kit
Don't go hiking without the basic necessities you might need in an emergency. Bring water and a lightweight blanket. Bring bandaids, bandages, gauze, and even an antiseptic or antibacterial cleanser so that you can clean out wounds if they happen. Bring some gummies or goo in the kit so that you can give someone quick nourishment if they need it.
Consider packing matches, a lighter, or flares in case you get lost and need to be found. One of the smartest hiking hacks for safety is creating an emergency kit that always comes with you when you hit the trails. That way you won't be unprepared if something unexpected happens.
Master Your Hiking Hacks with Pike Trail
The above hiking hacks can make any experience hiking in the wilderness a truly incredible one. If you plan to go hiking and use these hiking hacks, make sure you shop at Pike Trail first.
Pike Trail is an online retailer of camping and hiking gear. Not only do they have items that'll make sleeping-bag sleeping more comfortable but also gear you can wear while hiking—like gaiters and snake leg guards—to ensure you are having the optimal hiking experience.
Browse Pike Trail and pick up the items you think will make your hiking hacks even better. Once you get out on a trail and implement these tips and tricks, you'll be a regular hiker—and you won't be able to wait to get outside and adventure again and again.