A good trail map is an essential item to bring on a hike, but what if it rains or snows? It’s always a good idea to keep your map in a clear plastic bag. Some people go to the trouble of laminating their maps, which is even better. Also, check your local hiking retailers as some of them sell laminated maps for popular local hiking trails.
When hiking in high elevation areas during the summer, get an early start to avoid afternoon thunderstorms. Keep an eye on the sky up above, because clouds can be a sign of a potential thunderstorm. If you are hiking above the tree line, lightning can be a serious threat.
Consider using trekking poles! They will help you when hiking uphill by taking some weight off your legs, and they will save your knees and help you balance when hiking downhill. Some can even act as a tripod for your camera.
Instead of just throwing your clothes, food, and equipment into your backpack, divide the gear up into stuff sacks that will help keep things organized. Plastic storage bags can work well because you can see what’s inside and they’re waterproof.
Even though what you REALLY want to do when you first get home might be to just crash on the couch, it’s worth taking the time to clean gear right away when you return. For example, storing a tent with dirt in or on it can cause the fabric to wear out more quickly, while cleaning will help prolong the life of the tent. Take care of your hiking investments!
Make meal preparations faster and easier following a long day of hiking by putting all of the ingredients for each meal together in one or two plastic storage bags. For example, if you’re making pasta, have the sauce (dried or not), pasta, and any seasonings all together so you don’t have to dig through your pack when all you want to do is eat and then crash in your sleeping bag.
Skip the expensive, pre-package trail mix – just make your own one using either particular ingredients or whatever you find in your cupboards! Start with standard ingredients like peanuts, pretzels, and raisins or other dried fruit. Then try sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, shredded coconut, cashews, white chocolate chips, banana chips, goldfish crackers, chocolate covered espresso beans, and dried mango for some variety.
Dogs make GREAT hiking companions! When hiking with your dog, consider having your dog wear a small doggie backpack so he or she can carry treats and maybe some water. Let your dog wear the backpack around the house and on neighborhood walks to get used to the feel.
If you don’t feel like dropping the dough for a backpack cover, try using a sturdy plastic trash bag. Find one that’s made from pretty durable plastic and toss a spare bag in your pack in case you snag the one you’re using on a branch.
At the end of a long hike, you’ll probably just want to get some food in your rumbling stomach. Two good choices are angel hair pasta and couscous – both cook VERY quickly. Toss some dried veggies in the water, mix in some sauce, and you have yourself a meal!