Kind Hints for Hiking

Tips for HikingIn some of my favorite stories, the characters embark on daring hikes into the woods to keep the plot thick. On many such occasions the protagonist will pack a few items into a bag and set off quickly for adventure. Often, not much more is said about the hike except to describe a particularly beautiful setting or an encounter with a vicious beast. The character will collect nuts, berries, and fungi he/she conveniently knows is not poisonous, makes a fire using twigs and friction, and will eventually arrive, tired but otherwise intact.

During such reading experiences I found myself flipping back and forth between pages. “What few items are in the bag?”, “What shoes are best?”, “How does one battle the uncertainty of the path ahead?”

It took hikes in the Shenandoah National Park, Yosemite National Park, Olympic National Park, and many places in New Zealand, but I finally found the answers. I’ll gladly share my tips for hiking here:

Tips for Hiking – Make Hiking Easier:


Bring as few as possible, but bring things you know are comfortable. Imagine the clothes you want to bring sweaty and dirty. Will they still be loose enough? Will they ride up as you exert yourself? Blisters and irritation can occur on just more than your feet. If you going for a multi-day hike (which I refer to as a “backpack”), try to get creative with ways to bring less clothes. For instance, if you are a girl you can bring two pair of underwear and seven panty liners. Either gender can bring a few pair of good socks and multiple pair of sock liners to cut down. Plan your clothes to work in layers to keep you warm or cool as necessary. Consider keeping your spare clothes in a sack to use as a pillow at night. Know that you might want to hang the day’s clothes out to dry overnight if they get wet. What I find works best for me is to bring just two outfits and alternate them each day of the backpack. Finally, bring things you feel confident in. You will probably have your photo taken a lot on the trail.


One of the best tips for hiking is a good pair of hiking shoes. Do not wait to get good hiking shoes. Choose some that can do what you need them to (waterproof for wet areas, good tread for climbing, light for long easy hikes, etc). Then, try them on well in advance. If they don’t feel good then find ones that do. Shoes, as everything else in hiking supplies, will not magically work just because you are out in the wilderness and really want them to.

Bathroom/Lack of

If you know of something that helps you move your bowels on a regular basis (i.e.: coffee or oatmeal), bring it with you! More than one hiking experience has been ruined by unpredictable needs. Familiarize yourself with the rules of the place you will be hiking. Do you need to bury your poop? Consider a lightweight poop shovel. What do you need to do with used toilet paper? I would suggest doing a trial run somewhere private before you go in the woods. This will give you a real idea of the best way to pack your paper, trash bag, and hand sanitizer. Here are some more tips for Women Peeing Outside.

Hygienic Supplies

For this, you need to look deep inside yourself to determine what you really would be miserable without (for me it’s eye drops) and what you must sacrifice (flavored lip gloss). Smelly things not only need to be carried but also need to be stowed away with your food to keep away from predators, so really try to minimize your list. Also, consider sharing with your hiking buddies so that only one person brings the nail clippers, someone brings a few q-tips, and another brings the aloe vera lotion in case of sunburn. The same can be done for medical supply kits if you are sure you are staying together.


Packing the right amount of food is an art. I would suggest for every full day of hiking to bring three meals and a small snack. You might also throw in one emergency meal but chances are you won’t be as hungry as you’d expect so don’t over-pack. The easiest food may be freeze dried bag meals. For those you will need water and a way to boil it. Besides the obvious of not bringing food that will melt or go bad in your pack, I would point out that it is fun to bring fresh food if you can eat it quickly over the first few days and you should bring food you like to eat. It is very unlikely you will start to magically like raisins just because they are in your trail mix and you are a little hungry. It is better to bring food you can look forward to. Also, you will want to bring more than one water filter in a group in case one breaks. In the same way you can split up gas burners and kerosene containers that will be shared.

Other Supplies

In case no one warned you, hiking and backpacking can be expensive hobbies. When purchasing your tent, pack, sleeping back, and other big items remember that if you pick quality products that meet the specifications for the type of adventures you’re going on they will last a long time. Hopefully you can last as long.


I have been on wonderful hikes and terrible ones. What makes the greatest difference is the group of people you go with. If the group does not get along in comfortable society, they will probably not get along when they are sore, tired, stung, burned, and facebook-deprived. Pick a group where everyone feels they have something to contribute so they do not compete too much, and where everyone looks out for the rest. This is bound to lead to a truly amazing experience.


The best planning has one main organizer who uses input from everyone in the group. The organizer should spend a lot of time on the websites and in books about the place you plan on hiking to create a realistic itinerary that notes wildlife precautions, elevation changes, distance, water sources, campsite passes, etc.

My theory is that there are two types of hikers: those who lie and tell themselves they are closer to the end than they are, and those who lie to themselves and say they are further. You will find what works best for you. Just remember, when you hike you are the protagonist in your own story!

If you have more tips for hiking we would love to hear from you! Please share your expertise in the comment box below.

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Author: Ashley Flanders

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One response to "Kind Hints for Hiking"

  • Thanks for the great article and practice tips! I also like to bring an emergency blanket with me even on day trips. They are inexpensive, easy to pack and can be a life saver if you need to spend an unplanned night out.


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