- Take a five to ten minute break every hour, eating and drinking
during each break. When resting, lay down and elevate your feet above your
heart. Take off your shoes and change your socks.
- When leaving a campsite or a rest stop, walk a few yards
away from the site, then stop and look back for items that you may have left
- Use alligator clips to hang wet socks from your pack as you
hike. They will dry out so you can change into dry socks a couple of times
during your hiking day. Attach these clips to a shower curtain clip and attach
it to your pack. Now those alligator clips are always handy.
- Walk at a leisurely pace that you know you can keep up all
day. Relax and stay in tune with nature as you walk. Remember you are doing
this for the journey, not the destination.
- On ascents, lace your boots loosely around the ankles to
allow plenty of movement. On downhills, avoid toe jams by seating heels in
the backs of the boots and tying laces tightly around the ankles but loosely
at the toes.
- Gaiters keep debris and rain out of
your boots, but the commercial kind retail moisture. Try making your own by
cutting a slit along the center and bottom of nylon socks from just behind
the toe to just in front of the heal. Punch small holes along the sides of
the socks and attach a line that runs across the sole of your boot at the
instep. The socks will stretch enough to slide this line off your boot when
removing the gaiters. Put the socks on and pull them up your leg a bit. Put
your boots on, slide the socks down over them and attach the line at your
instep.The front of the sock will fit over your boot's toe or you can cut
off the front section. Photo
- Try Trekking Poles: they reduce the wear and tear on your
knees and enable your upper body to participate in the hike.
- To save internal water breath through your nose instead of
your mouth. Walk at a pace that allows you to not sweat profusely.
- If you are 100% certain of your next water supply, carry
just enough water to get you there.
- Water weighs 2 lbs./quart and is much more important to your
survival than food. So plan your water supply carefully.
- Filter all water on the trail unless it is coming directly
out of a natural spring.
- A one liter nalgene container weighs up to 6 oz. before you
add water. A one liter Platypus bladder weighs about 3/4 oz. which is why
I carry my water in them. One liter soda bottles are also lightweight.
- Use a drinking tube clipped to a shoulder strap to drink
from while hiking. You will be more inclined to drink enough during the day.
- Carry a mixture of baking powder and baby powder and apply
it to appropriate places a couple of times a day. Some people experience chafing,
in their arm pits as they swing their arms all day, and in the crotch. This
will help prevent the problem. Another alternative is to do as Ray Jardine
does, and wear Spandex shorts.
- To prevent leaving behind gear always leave a pocket open
until all items taken from it are returned.
- Bugs: I don't like to use Deet (it dissolves plastic so what
is it doing to my body). Try other things first; wearing light colored clothing,
taking a head net, putting on long pants and shirt, selecting campsites that
are high, dry, and breezy. On the other hand Deet does have a good safety
record and millions of people die every year from mosquito carried diseases.
Check out this link
for definitive info. about Deet and other mosquito related news.
- Spray your clothing with Permethrin (available at REI and
other stores). This stuff repels and kills ticks and mosquitoes. Follow the
directions on the container for application and use.
- Never sweep away debris at your tent site with your feet.
Get down on all fours and pick up the pine cones etc.
- Digging trenches around your tent is out.
- Practice "leave no trace". If there is an established
fire pit, use it. If there isn't one and you build a fire, be sure to remove
all trace of it before you leave.
- Don't wash with soap, biodegradable or not, while standing
in a stream or lake. Fill a pan with water and wash well away from the body
- What to do with solid wastes? The recommendations keep changing.
You definitely should bury it and the most recent recommendation that I have
read is that toilet paper should be carried out. You can burn it in your next
campfire. I use paper towel instead of toilet paper. Cut each towel in six
equal parts. You can better estimate how many you will need and I think they
are less messy.
- Make an ultra-light backpackers trowel for burying solid
waste. Mine weighs .9 oz and doubles as a tent stake. Cut a 7" X 3/4"
piece of aluminum channel stock. With a file, place knotches about an inch
from one end and sharpen the other end to a dull rounded point. Photo
- You may burn waste paper but plastic must be carried out.
Taking Care of Your Feet
- Carry a small hard rubber ball and roll your bare tired feet
over it at rest breaks.
- If you feet are dry and cracks begin appearing (as happens
sometimes when wearing sandals for long periods), use a skin moisturizer several
times a day. Some people use Bagbalm (bagbalm.com) or Utterly Smooth (uttercream.com)
which, as you may have guessed, are products normally used on cow utters.
- Carry duct tape and apply it to a hot spot as soon as you
feel it while hiking. The tape made of cloth works best. Athletic tape works
- Try different socks. For me, switching to Smartwool socks
when wearing hiking boots made all the difference.
- Be creative when lacing your boots. With my last pair of
boots, I found that if I didn't' lace the bottom two islets my toes had a
little more needed room.
- If your going to have to hike for a while, the surest way
to get relief may be to take a knife to your boots or trail shoes. Cut out
the part that is causing the pain.
- When taking a rest break, take off your shoes and socks and
let your feet air out. Also, rub your feet with alcohol and elevate them to
- Colin Fletcher rubs his feet daily with alcohol to toughen
them before going on a long hike. At the least this would dry them and discourage
bacterial and fungal growth, which softens skin.
- The test results are in and rubbing the feet with deodorant
has been shown to prevent blisters, apparently by shutting down the sweat
glands in your feet. Do it daily for three or four days before the hike. Rub
everywhere except the tops of your feet, which are more sensitive.
- Also at that rest break, if your socks are wet, change into
a dry pair and hang the socks that you have removed from your feet on your
pack to dry as you walk.
- If you usually get a blister in a certain place, apply duct
tape, athletic tape, or Compeed to that spot before you start your hike.
- Wrap duct tape around your trekking poles so it is always
readily available. Wrap it just below the handles.
- Sometimes Vaseline applied ahead of time, will prevent blisters.
- Make sure your boots fit. Try on boots in the afternoon as
your feet swell as the day wears on.You should have 1/4-1/2 inch of room at
the end of your toes. If in doubt opt for a larger size.
- Buying a larger size means a wider boot, not a longer boot.
New Balance Trail Running Shoes come in all the widths up to EE.
- Compeed Skin Protector is a special cushion for preventing
and/or healing blisters. There are other brands such as Band-Aid Blister Block.
Look for a product featuring Compeed moisture seal technology. It is very
easy to apply, and, because it breaths, it does not have to be removed for
the several days that the blister is healing.
- If you have a painful blister, clean it and lance it near
the bottom with a sterilized needle. Apply a little tincture of Benzoin which
will help later dressings to adhere to your skin. Then either apply a compeed
strip or if using moleskin, cut a hole in the piece of moleskin that is just
larger than the blister. Place the moleskin on the blister to create a pressure
free pocket for the blister. Next apply a small circle of Spenco 2nd Skin
directly on the blister. Cover it with a second piece of moleskin and secure
it in place with strips of medical tape or duct tape. I remove all this at
night and recreate it in the morning.With Compeed this is not necessary.
- When making moleskin or duct-tape patches, round the corners
to discourage peeling.
These knots are useful for backpacking: Yes you could probably
get by with just two or three knots, but you will be faster, more efficient,
and feel the satisfaction that comes from a task performed well. For more knots
see Knots, UK
Scouting Resources, or check out Animated Knots.
I use two kinds of cord. Mason's twine is cheap and very lightweight.
I use it only for clothes line as I have found that it tangles very easily.
For tarp and tent tieouts, and for hanging food, I use Triptease
Light Line from Kelty. It weighs about 1 oz per 50 feet which is about half
the weight of the line you will find, for backpacking, in outdoor stores. Triptease
is constructed of a fibrous Spectra core surrounded by a sheath of reflective
Scotchlite. It has a wiry feel which is why it holds a knot so well and why
it resists tangling. Because of the reflective surface it glows at night making
it less likely that you will trip over it. One drawback - it is not cheap. Sealing
the ends of Triptease involves a different procedure as the fibrous core doesn't
seal well. Pull out about 1/2 inch of that core, twist it, and cut it off. Now
grasp the sheath between your thunb nail and index finger nail several inches
back from the end, apply pressure and draw your finger nails toward the end
of the sheath. The core should no longer be protruding. Finaly seal the sheath
in a flame and you should be all set.
Beause it is wiry, one needs to be careful when using Triptease
for hanging food from trees. Avoid sawing motions with the rope as it drapes
over tree branches.
- Overhand knot: the first knot most of us learn. The same
knot you begin with when tying your shoes.
- Overhand on a bight: For attaching guy lines to a tarp. Pass
the line through the tie-out or grommet bringing it back on itself to form
a loop. This is called a bight. Now tie an overhand knot where the free end
lies parallel to the trailing line (called the standing part).
knot: tying bandages and packages.
8: For temporary prevention of frayed ends on a cut line.
tie: a slip knot..
Knot Tying your food bag before hanging it from a tree or securing the
tops of plastic food bags and ditty bags
half-hitch and quick release version: Tying line to a post or tree.
For tying out the corners of a plastic tarp. Generally for tying two lines
of unequal thickness such as cord and fabric.
fishermen's knot: For tying two ropes together.
A rescue knot. For looping around a waist and pulling.
For tying something in the middle of a line such as tent stakes. When you
pull up the stakes and slide the knot off, it falls apart.
hitch: Can be tightened without being retied. I use it to attach a line
from a tripod of sticks to the cook pot thereby allowing me to raise or lower
it with ease. Hikelite
also has photos of this knot.
- Tarbuck. The tarbuck is a modified tautline hitch and is
stronger and more stable than the tautline, but is a little harder to tie.
Index | Home