It’s not just stamina and a plethora of food that’ll get you through a long distance hike. Here are some essential items and tips for hiking trips.
Tips for Hiking 1 – Take Along a Sarong
A sarong is quite simply fabulous. It has so many purposes that I wouldn’t be without one. It can be used as a towel (instead of travel towels which retain odours after a few uses), a scarf, a cushion around your hips to stop your bag bruising you, an eye mask/hat at night, an extra layer around your body in your sleeping bag (when not being used as a hat!), a pillow case to keep your clothes in one place while you snooze away, and a Dick Whittington style bag when you need to haul your washing to a stream. It gets my gold star award for tips for hiking.
Tips for Hiking 2 – Pack a Penknife with Scissors
Yes, you have a knife. But how do you cut straps without fraying them? Or ensure you won’t nick yourself while making a very tight cut? And what happens when your talons start putting holes through your socks? The answer is buy a penknife with scissors. I’ve been hiking without one and simply wished I’d had one with me.
Tips for Hiking 3 – Behind Every Cloud there’s a Backpack Lining
Raincovers blow off, plus their waterproofing stops being effective after a while, so line the inside of your backpack with a survival bag cut to size. It’s cheaper and wider than dry bags and just as effective, providing you don’t put holes in it! However, use purpose-made dry bags for your top pockets as they’re smaller and easier to fit in.
Tips for Hiking 4 – Plump Up Your Shoulder Straps
The 80s fashionistas knew a thing or two when they put shoulder pads into everything they owned. Admittedly, they looked quite ridiculous but as a long distance hiker, you’ll be wanting to beef up the shoulder padding on your straps. I normally use my ski gloves (they’re waterproof) and attach them with their velcro around the straps of my backpack.
Tips for Hiking 5 – Spin a Yarn with Dental Floss
Apart from keeping your dentist at bay for longer than you should, using dental floss can help on the trail, too. If your bag needs sewing up, forget cotton thread, it’s too weak. Dental floss and all its minty glory will work wonders.
Tips for Hiking 6 – Grease Up with Vaseline
Rub some between your toes before you set off and you’ll notice a difference. You’ll limit the number of blisters and have soft skin rather than cracked heels. Of course you can also use it on your lips, hands and anywhere else that is weather beaten.
Tips for Hiking 7 – Make a Hot Water Bottle
A metal bottle doubles up as a hot water bottle at night. Simply pop hot water in it, wrap it in a sock and voilà, you’ll have your very own heating system. Just make sure you haven’t bought a vacuum flask!
Tips for Hiking 8 – Tap into the Water
If something’s on tap, you use more of it. Hence my preference for water bladders. I know I drink enough when the pipe is in front of me rather than having to stop to get my water bottle out (which I never do as frequently as I should). This is especially important when hiking at altitude – you need to guzzle down far more water when you’re higher up.