Foggy views down a black rocky knob in North Carolina.

Hiking Hacks

There is nothing more exciting to me than heading out on the trails as a new day begins.  The possibilities of wildlife encounters, beautiful views, and that adventurous feeling when exploring the wilds of a new landscape inspire me to no end!  In that same breath, there are those challenging moments that are almost promised to arise when backpacking.  

From changes in weather and temperature to everyday needs, I’m thankful for some hiking tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way that have helped me navigate those unplanned events in the wilderness.  Here are my top five hacks I use most times I’m out on the trails!

Shoe Refresher

Hiking for days on end is a challenge but what about the challenge of keeping our shoes from becoming mildew-smelling and downright rancid?  I once heard that I should try stuffing a tea bag or two in each shoe after hiking and leave it overnight.  

The first time I tried this, I woke up to shoes that smelled like they didn’t just go through an 8 mile mountainous hike in the rain the day before!  Not only did they smell great but the tea bags also soaked up much of the moisture from the rainy day hike.  I used two lemon tea bags for each shoe but you can choose whatever scent you prefer!

Hiking shoes with lemon tea bags.

The Power of Coconut Oil

Packing my hiking pack with multi-use items is a hack I use to keep my weight load as low as possible.  When I came across the different uses of coconut oil, I decided to test it out on an overnight hike to see what benefits I took away from this little experiment of mine.  I’m happy to report that I used it successfully as a deodorant, toothpaste, skin salve, “creamer” for my coffee, lip moisturizer, and for cooking!  

Today, it’s a staple in the items I bring with me on the trail.  I just portion it out and put it into a small container to place into my BearVault canister and I’m ready to go!

A tupperware sitting on the grass with a spoon and coconut oil.

Space Blanket

These thin, low weight, metallic sheet blankets not only help prevent hypothermia in cold and rainy weather, they also have many other uses as well!  Because these are packaged similar to the size of an index card, I usually pack 2-3 space blankets for the trail.  If I know it will be a rainy hike, I will line my hiking pack with one to keep everything dry or wear it like a cape to cover my hiking pack on my back that way.

I’ve wrapped extra shoes in one before and was thrilled to change my soaked hiking shoes with dry ones on one especially rainy hike.  I use them to sit on wet ground to stay dry as well.  In case of an emergency, these blankets can reflect the sun to help people spot you if you become immobile due to injury or other circumstance.  You just can’t go wrong keeping these items with you on your adventure!

A camouflage emergency space blanket sitting on the ground.

Organizing Food Storage

It’s not about how much food you bring, but how dense the nutrition is in what you bring!  I’ve found that I can store a day’s worth of food and more in my BearVault® BV425 canister simply by choosing nutrient-dense packaged food.  

I love to bring protein bars, oatmeal packets, nuts, complex carbohydrates, avocados for my good fats, and electrolyte packets for my water to maintain my needed caloric and hydration intake for the trail.  I often place each category of food in its own sealed bag and label it so I don’t waste any time in knowing what to reach for!

A BearVault bear resistant canister filled with some food.

KT Tape

As a former soccer player, KT Tape was a staple in stabilizing my rolled ankle, taping up muscle strains, and shin splints.  Today, I’ve come across a little hack that helps me keep blisters at bay on the trails!  

I use KT Tape when I feel the first hint of a hotspot, which usually presents as a tingling or burning sensation with redness.  This happens before a full on blister takes place and all hikers know how challenging it is to hike on with blisters.  I just cut a small section of KT Tape and apply it to the area to prevent blisters.  It has worked wonders for me!

A roll of KTtape sitting on a log in the woods.

These are just five ways I make it easier on myself out on the trails but there are so many tips and tricks out there to fit what is most important to you.  Finding what works for you by trial and error is truly the best way to personalize your hiking experience to fit your expectations.  Happy trails!


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