1. Even if you’re going on a short hike, bring the essentials.
Things to tick off of your checklist: a map, extra layers of clothing, sunscreen, matches, a flashlight, a multitool, snacks, and extra water.
2. Line your backpack with a garbage bag for extra rain protection.
If it doesn’t rain, you’ll have an extra bag for trash.
3. Look into getting a hoodie that takes pockets seriously and forget bringing a backpack.
This SCOTTeVEST cotton hoodie ($ 75) isn’t cheap, but it does feature 10 interior and exterior pockets that basically turns you into a lightweight caravan for everything you’ll need during a day hike.
4. If you’re prone to blisters in your hiking boots, coat those areas with petroleum jelly before putting on your socks and boots.
Hikers swear by this trick to prevent abrasive rubbing in certain areas, which can lead to bad blisters. Get more info here.
5. Or get toe-sock liners to prevent blisters.
Toe-socks are an acquired taste, but they can really save the day during a long, hot hike. Wear them underneath your hiking socks for extra cushion. Get them here for $ 9.
6. Keep your phone in a plastic bag inside your backpack just in case.
Maybe it starts to downpour or your water bottle is leaking all over the inside of your bag or you fall into a river (hey, it happens)—keep your phone is a sealed baggie and all will be fine. And hold on to those takeout utensil bags—they are the perfect fit for an iPhone 6, and you can use them at beaches and music festivals.
7. Even if you’re going for a short hike, BRING DUCT TAPE.
Hardcore hikers swear by duct tape, which you can use to waterproof ventilated boots, fix a cracked water bottle, and protect painful blisters. Learn more about how duct tape can save your life here.
8. And instead of bringing the whole roll, buy slim hiker-friendly packs.
Buy it here ($ 3.95).
9. Or wrap a few feet of tape around a lighter.
That way you can bring 2 essential tools without wasting any space in your backpack.
10. Use the Tick Key to quickly remove any ticks you might pick up in the woods.
It’s important to get rid of ticks as soon as you spot them. Either pack a tweezer (they’re small so they won’t take up a lot of space in your backpack) or pick up the Tick Key here ($ 6.50).
11. And either wear tall socks or tuck your pants into your hiking boots when you can.
To keep ticks at bay.
12. Pack bandaids, antiseptic towlettes, a gauze roll, and a few aspirin in a prescription bottle.
The bottle will keep everything dry and in one place—and it’s miniature stature is perfect for packing light. Get a list of hiker-approved First Aid materials here.
13. Bring binder clips so you can hang wet clothes off of your backpack.
You can also wrap small pieces of clothing around handles and straps, but the binder clips help ensure they won’t fall off or get blown away.
14. Empty your snacks into sealable baggies—cuz you know that your pre-packaged snacks are filled with air.
To save space in your backpack, pour your trail mix, potato chips, and whatever other snacks you’re bringing along into sealable baggies.
15. And finally, get familiar with these poisonous plants so you don’t get screwed.
Poison Ivy and Poison Oak always has 3 leaflets (remember “leaflets three, let it be”). Posion Sumac has 7–13 smooth, oval leaflets arranged in pairs around a reddish stem.
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