Hiking frequently demands quick, seat-of-your-pants decisions. But sometimes the best thinking happens before you walk out the door. Here are five inspired ways to make your next hike a little easier.
A trash bag is the Swiss Army knife of hiking. With head and arm holes, it’s a makeshift poncho. As a pack liner, it’s one more level of rain protection. Throw wet clothes in it and everything else stays dry. Or it also works well as a bag for trash.
Headed back to the tent or car, but running out of light? Here’s a quick way to measure the time until dark. Hold your hand up horizontally, with your pinky at the horizon. Count the number of fingers between the horizon and the sun. Each finger represents 15 more minutes of sunlight. Now, get back to walking. Or jogging, depending on what you learned.
Cotton claims to be the fabric of our lives. Make that your home life. On the trail, cotton absorbs and holds water or sweat and does a poor job of keeping you warm. Opt for wicking fabrics, which dry quickly while moving moisture away from your body. Wool is somewhere in between. It doesn’t wick well, but at least keeps you warm when wet.
Everyone agrees toilet paper is essential. The cardboard roll? Not so much. Remove it, squeeze the paper as flat as possible, and gain a little more room in your pack for other essentials. Like, say, more toilet paper.
Duct tape is the eighth wonder of the world, but first among hikers. A few quick ideas: mend ripped clothing, packs, or tents. Cover blisters. Waterproof ventilated footwear. Seal food supplies. Restrain bears. Wrap cooking pot handles. By the way, one of these is false. No way duct tape covers blisters.