Mountaineers with years and kilometres of experience do not have the monopoly of information where hiking tips are concerned. Even rookie climbers have gems that aspiring hikers – and even the experienced ones – will find helpful and clever. Here are 5 of them.

Inflatable Beds

If you want to keep your costs low, especially if you still aren’t sure if you’re going to hike regularly or are only out for an overnight traverse, you may find one of those inflatable pool/beach beds a surprisingly comfortable and lightweight choice. This is also a great choice if you’re going to take a dip in a body of water after a hike.

This option is perfect for those on the petite side or have smaller body proportions as the inflatable is capable of holding up moderate to lightweight bodies on hard ground. Inflate with a portable hand pump (that weighs almost nothing), and you’re good to go. It takes a bit more time to deflate compared to the more conventional (and pricier) options, though. Make sure that the inflatable bed you get fits the tent you’re bringing.

Picture taken at Finhaut

Hats with Hard Visors

One hiker who isn’t very experienced in navigating through woody terrain was inches from getting a nasty scrape on the face a couple of times on one such adventure, if not for the visor’s brim filling the very slim gap.

Interestingly, hats with hard visors can be quite the life saver as the sturdy brim not only keeps moisture or drops of rain from dripping all over your face, it also can keep your cheek or forehead from bumping into low-hanging branches or deceptively narrow tree trunks, especially when you’re walking distractedly or in low visibility. After all, the brim can make contact before your face does and helps you avoid further harm.

A Good Cardio Base

If you’re a runner, cyclist, swimmer, or into a lung-busting sport, consider yourself a notch better off than other beginner hikers. Having a good cardio and overall fitness base helps you pull through long climbs that involve a lot of steep terrain. One newbie found that years of running regularly served her well as it got her through four hours of uphill climbing, and without holding the rest of the group back, too.

That being said, it is wise to work up a sweat way before a hike so you’re less likely to tire out easily or get sore muscles right afterwards. You can run 5Ks, for example, or do aerobic exercises three times a week at least a month before a climb.

Dry Bags

These waterproof bags are a godsend – they not only keep your gear safe from moisture, they also are versatile enough to be used as pillows and flotation devices, which is useful when canyoneering or hiking through trails with rivers or bodies of water. They can also help serve as an extra waterproofing layer or as containers for wet clothes and etc.

Picture taken at Engelberg

Descending at an Angle

You may hear some mountaineers say that the descent is the real climb. This is especially true for certain trails. But no matter what mountain you explore, a simple tip that will help save your energy – and your knees – is to shift your foot sideways when descending.

A first timer, who happens to be a runner (same person mentioned above), found out that a similar technique she used in running down trail paths proved useful on a hike as it helped prevent slip ups and also lessened the strain on her knees and legs.

You can try and compare going down with feet pointing forward versus feet positioned sideways. You’ll know soon enough which one is kinder to your joints.

Have you any clever hiking hacks to share? Let us know!


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