Keys to More Efficient Hiking
Advice from 30,000 miles on the Trail
Our friends at Explore Magazine recently asked us for suggestions on “how to hike more efficiently.” They published several of our tips in the most recent issue of the magazine. But we thought you might want to read the entire list. Here you go:
efficient hiking = actually going hiking
The more you hike, the more efficient a hiker you’ll become.
Many people don’t go hiking because preparation for a hike seems like a pain. So reduce prep time. Keep your daypack packed at home. Have a drawer full of hiking food, so you can just grab and go. After a trip, once you’ve washed your clothes, re-pack your pack, so you’re always ready in advance.
Think “fuel” not “meal.” Rely on nutritional science when you’re out there. Honey Stinger Bars, Clif Builders Bars, Larabars, Genisoy bars, Power Bars, etc. You don’t need to make sandwiches or cook meals. Make your hiking-trip prep simpler, quicker. And don’t waste backpacking time cooking. You can eat great meals at home, before and after your backpack trips. When backpacking, we often hike until dark. In summer, in Canada, daylight is so long you can get nearly two hiking days in one.
Never plan a dinner party for the night you’ll return from a hike. Efficient hiking means seeing and doing as much out there as you can fit into a day. So make sure you—and your hiking compadres—have nothing planned for the evening after a hiking trip. You want to go as far and see as much as possible. A 6 p.m. obligation essentially cuts a dayhike down to a half dayhike
Look ahead into the summer. Warn friends and relatives that summer in Canada is short, hiking season is precious, and you won’t necessarily be available for weddings, family get-togethers, and holiday events, because you’ll be hiking.
Stay focused. Don’t sacrifice hiking opportunities for propriety. Lots of people who love hiking don’t hike nearly as much as they want because they submit to all kinds of frivolous, social obligations.
Men… Find a woman whose desire to hike matches yours. We know lots of men who are essentially emasculated because their partners don’t share their athleticism or adventurous spirit.
Don’t invite just anyone to hike with you. Find people whose fitness level matches yours. Sure, hiking can be social, but it can be social with people who won’t slow you down and limit your range of opportunity on the few precious days you go hiking
Fitness = efficiency in the backcountry. You want to comfortably cover a lot of ground out there, so you can have big, exciting experiences. So get fit, and stay fit.
Sell your older, heavier, less comfortable gear. Buy new gear that will help you hike farther, faster, in greater comfort. Don’t cling to the old stuff. The MEC.ca online Gear Swap offers an easy way to recycle gear.
Trekking poles. Use them. Not just one, but two. And not cheap ones. Certainly not old ski poles. Or a ridiculous Gandalf staff. Get a pair of high-quality trekking poles. They’ll help you hike faster, go farther, more comfortably, with a greater sense of security on rough terrain, and with far less chance of injury.
Carry only backpacking food that requires no cooking. Pack-It Gourmet (www.packitgourmet.com) makes excellent meals that will allow you to eliminate the weight of a backpacking stove, fuel, pots, etc.
No Teva sandals! Strapping them onto your backpack so you can use them as camp shoes is nuts. They’re insanely heavy. Try racing flats, which weigh only a couple ounces.
Don’t carry a heavy, bulky water filter. Use Pristine purification droplets, which are lighter and more compact.
Plan your hike in advance (not in the car, not at the trailhead). Get the right guidebook that doesn’t waste your time — an opinionated guidebook that ensures you enjoy the greatest possible scenic experience.