Be a better hiker with these six tips

It doesn’t matter if you are a newbie or seasoned hiker, there are ways we can all improve the experience. Here’s six tips that may help on your next hike.

1. Use a smaller pack

While you may need a 70-litre-plus pack for skiing or snowshoeing, by judicious gear selection, you may get away with a 45-50-litre pack. I used to love the old Summit Gear Warrigal Aussie-made gems. Known as day-and-a-half packs, they fitted all I needed for a four-day Budawangs sojourn (with a loaf of rye bread) and we travelled fast and far. Naturally, if you are on extended walks with no resupply, temper this with common sense.

2. Multi-use items

The cord you use to support your light fly shelter between trees or sticks can double to lower your pack and gear down precipitous cliff lines. Why carry an extra rope? Carry that principle to a recycled wine cask bladder that you use to carry water to camp and can also be an effective neck cushion when you sleep. You get the idea. Look for those opportunities to take items that do double or triple duty.

3. An extra warm layer-two ways

You can save on expensive self-inflating mats, by getting a cheaper thinner budget one, placing it over a thin closed-cell foam mat and laying your folded spare clothes between the two layers for extra warmth and insulation. The large extra garbage bag, which weighs nothing, can be worn between layers when it turns out colder or sleeting and core temperature preservation is essential – just cut two arm holes and head hole. Bonus – a beanie on the head is worth two jackets on your back for warmth.

4. Take pressure off your joints

If you are walking in forested country like the Blue Mountains, grab two straight sticks about 1.5m long, cut shallow notches in one end and tie some wrist loops of cord on them and they’ll do admirably for trekking poles (or you could just buy trekking poles – Ed), then use them at night to hold up one or both ends of your fly shelter. When you stop for a short breather, lean your pack against a tree and take the weight off you hips and shoulders. Also, keep your hip belt at the correct position and tensioned so it does its job.

5. Close and Heavy

Put dense, heavy items closer to your back in the pack. This keeps you better balanced through your centre of gravity being closer. Use weigh-nothing, draw-cord stuff sacks to compartmentalise your gear and keep a mental pack map of where everything is packed and do it the same way every time.

6. Light footwear pays

Most bushwalks do not justify heavy full leather boots with thick soles, especially if you minimise what’s on your back and you relieve pressure with walking poles. US Army studies concluded that a kg on your foot was the equivalent of 5kg on your back. Heavier boots tire your legs quicker and encourage sloppy foot placement.

Author: Marcus O’Dean

Contributed by: Great Walks

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