It’s not just stamina and a plethora of food that’ll get you through a long-distance hike, although that certainly helps. Great tips for hiking can transform a miserable experience into a fun one. And as I’ve spent much of my adult life surgically attached to a backpack, here are my essential long-distance hiking tips for you.
1. Tips for Hiking – Take Along a Sarong
A sarong is quite simply fabulous when it comes to long-distance hiking. 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 long-distance hiking tips.
2. Hiking Tips – 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? Number two on my long-distance hiking tips is to buy a penknife with scissors. You’ll be glad you did.
3. Tips for Hiking – Behind Each Cloud is a Backpack Lining
Raincovers blow off, plus the waterproofing on them stops being effective after a while. Instead, go with this long-distance hiking tip and 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 on your hike as they’re smaller and easier to fit in.
4. Long-Distance Hiking Tips – Plump Up Your Shoulder Straps
The 80’s fashionistas knew a thing or two when they put shoulder pads into everything they owned. Admittedly, they looked quite ridiculous but as far as long-distance hiking tips go, this is a good one. Carrying all that weight, 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.
5. Hiking Tips – 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.
Inspiration for British Hiking Trails:
* The Fife Coastal Path & Camping
* Hiking Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk
* Hiking and Camping on the Hebridean Way
* The Cape Wrath Trail
6. Tips for Hiking – 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. Read my secret for how to combat dry skin when winter hiking, another of my long-distance hiking tips.
7. Long-Distance Hiking Tips – Make a Hot Water Bottle
A metal bottle doubles up as a hot water bottle at night. Simply boil up some hot water, pop it in, wrap your bottle in a sock so as not to burn yourself, and voilà, you’ll have your very own heating system. Just make sure you haven’t bought a vacuum flask!
Check out my essentials for winter hiking (tips for not dying).
8. Tips for Hiking – 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.