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Tips and tricks for a multi-day hike

If you've got your eyes on a long hike, it's essential to be prepared so that you can take advantage of your time outdoors. Having the right food, information, medical equipment, equipment, and physical fitness can mean the difference between an amazing experience or a nightmare. So preparation is key!

Here are our tips and tricks for a multi-day hike that you should always keep in mind before a trip.

1. Prepare your body

Maybe you're used to long hikes over several days. Or perhaps you've done a few daytime hikes, and you've caught the bug and want to go longer.

Regardless of your experience, it pays to prepare your body. Hauling equipment on your back for days means preparing your upper body, core, and your lower body as best you can.

Get yourself a good workout program. The more time in advance you get your body ready, the easier your hike will be. For maximum strength, flexibility, and balance training, use resistance bands with squats, mountain climbers, burpees, and other moves.

2. Know where you're going

This may sound simplistic, but you want to study the area you'll be hiking in before you get there.

Get maps of the area and check for online forums with hikers who have visited that area before you. Forums are filled with practical tips such as finding edible plants and filling water bottles.

3. Lighten your load

Take stock of your camping gear's weight - your tent, sleeping bag, tarp - plus clothing and food. The lighter your load, the happier your back will be! It's worth investing in lightweight gear when you spend hours with it on your back. 

Hefting a bag onto your shoulders for a few minutes in your bedroom isn't the same as carrying that same bag for 8+ hours a day.

4. Invest in hiking boots

On multi-day hikes, you need to take care of your feet. In addition to packing foot cream and rubs, get yourself the best hiking boots you can afford. Your feet will thank you!

Add some hiking socks to your kit. These socks are specially designed to cushion your feet and keep them blister-free.

5. Plan for your water supply

You don't want to toss several heavy water bottles into your bag. Check for potable water sources before you go, and consider investing in a hydration belt or vest. You may also want to bring something light to filter water, such as filtration tablets or a straw. And consider getting some powdered sports drink, just in case.

6. Plan your meals

You may want to bring dehydrated or freeze-dried foods. Trail mixes are great for snacking as you go.

Just remember that you must take any food waste with you to dispose of later. Food waste left outside is harmful to animals and can even be dangerous for them and for other hikers. You don't want any bears in the area to have developed a taste for your food!

7. Don't forget the first aid kit

Bring a well-stocked first aid kit so that you are prepared in case of injury. Typical hiking first aid kits contain things like:

  • Tweezers
  • 1/2 roll medical tape
  • Four adhesive bandages + a few butterfly bandages
  • 1/2 ounce tube of antibiotic treatment
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Safety pins
  • Ibuprofen, an antidiarrheal, and an over-the-counter antihistamine, such as Benadryl

8. Remember a navigation and safety system

Your navigation system includes not only a GPS or a compass but a personal locator beacon so that you can always be found quickly in an emergency. If you press the help button on a PLB, the military is alerted. Really!

9. Plan for all types of weather

Before you leave, check the weather, and make sure you have rain gear of some kind.

Choose breathable clothing rather than cotton. Cotton takes much longer to dry than other fabrics and is heavy when wet! A fleece top is a good idea for colder weather, as fleece is breathable but keeps you warm.

Plan for the weather to be colder than you are expecting, especially at night. You don't want to be shivering in the middle of a mountain! Make sure your sleeping bag is warm, and you have adequate hiking pants (lined) and a jacket.

10 . Make sure you have enough fuel

Better to bring an extra gas canister than to be caught out with food to eat and no way to heat it.

Bring extra fuel for your body, too. You may consume more food than usual with all the exercise you'll be getting!

Enjoy your hike!

Lead photo by Holly Mandarich.

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