Hiking Hacks | Nifty Tricks To Try On The Trail
Quick, easy and cheap! Alyn Wallace details some of the simple but effective gear hacks he uses when he's out hiking and camping
A hiking hack is a convenient trick or simple remedy that can make your adventure smoother and easier. I’m sure at some point we’ve all come up with an ingenious solution to a hiking problem ourselves and revelled in our awesomeness as if we were MacGyver. The beauty of hiking is that there are endless hacks to make your life a lot easier and most of the time they involve utilising just basic household items. Below are some examples which will hopefully be useful to you or at least inspire your creativity to come up with some more of your own.
1. Always Keep A Bag Packed
You never know when the hills might call and if you’re backpack is ready and packed you can leave at a moment’s notice. On too many occasions, I’ve put too much faith in the weather forecast only to look out of my window and see that I’m missing a glorious day. Or maybe you’ve just come back from work and there aren't many hours of daylight left. A ready bag could be the swaying factor to drop everything and run to the hills without thinking twice. Make sure it’s got the bare essentials in there; map, compass, waterproofs, head-torch, medipack and maybe a few snacks.
2. Navigate by the Stars
Our ancestors used the stars to navigate the seven seas and cross the open plains. Some species of birds are even known to migrate at night observing the stars to orientate themselves. It’s a skill that despite technological advancements continues to be used to this day.
The easiest way to get your bearings is to find Polaris, the North Star. The axis on which Earth rotates points directly at Polaris. Or another way to think of it is that Polaris is directly above the North pole. For this reason, when Earth rotates, Polaris maintains the same position in the night sky while all the other stars appear to rotate around it.
It’s a common misconception that Polaris is the brightest star in the night sky but in fact it’s not even close. The sure fire way to find it is to first locate Ursa Major, aka ‘the Plough’, and the stars Merak and Dubhe act as pointers to Polaris. Once you’ve located Polaris you know where True North is and you can easily work out the remaining cardinal directions.
3. Put a Cork on Your Keys
OK so I’ve actually fallen victim to losing keys in the water so this one is a bit of a personal one for me. It was a bitterly cold January morning with an inch or two of snow on the ground and at some point my keys had fallen out of a hole in my pocket, off the jetty and into Llangorse Lake in the Brecon Beacons. Wading through the reed beds in the freezing water isn’t a memory I enjoy recollecting. Long story short, my feet were blue by the time a mobile locksmith turned up.
Hiking Hacks From The OutdoorsMagic Team
- Cotton balls covered in Vaseline make great fire starters
- Fill a bottle with warm water from your stove to warm up your sleeping bag. Make sure it’s not too hot!
- Carry a few sheets of newspaper and stuff them in your wet boots to dry them out overnight when you're camping.
- Keep wires from phone chargers etc. organised with hair clips
- Use Tic Tac boxes or a pill box to create a mini spice kit for camp cooking
There are numerous self-inflating attachments you can buy online these days but why not save yourselves a little cash and use a bottle cork with a screw hook. At the least it could be an excuse to open a bottle of something! It’s worth noting that if you have a number of keys on your keychain then this tip is probably not going to be as effective as it’s likely the extra weight would cause it to sink. Or you could just find a big cork from a big bottle...
4. Waterproof Your Kit
The weather can change in the hills within an instant so it’s worth being ready for anything that nature might throw at you. Waterproof bag covers are never to be fully trusted and can often be a load of faff.
Freezer bags are a great way to add extra protection to your bag contents and if you put your smartphone in one you can still use the touchscreen through the plastic. For a more general solution you can use a bin liner to line your entire bag and protect all the contents in one go.
5. Wrap Duct Tape Around Your Bottle
Duct tape has endless uses but packing a roll in your bag would take up some serious space premium. As it can be unpeeled quite easily you could instead wrap some around your bottle or even your walking poles and save on the space.
Talking of poles you could use it to fix the snapped pole of your tent, if it should ever break. You can even use duct tape the treat blisters, just cover a hot spot as soon as one begins to stir. In an emergency it could even be used to patch up a wound and prevent further bleeding.
6. Use Binder Clips to Hang Your Kit
Hanging stuff on the outside of your bag is the best way to dry off wet kit whilst your on the move. Hanging stuff precariously will nearly always lead to a missing sock or a lost t-shirt so it’s best to use some simple binder clips to make sure that they’re on there for good! If you’re not on the move you could use the clips to hang them from a nearby tree or even use them as a way of keeping your food elevated from the floor and away from all the bugs by hanging it in a bag. What other uses can you think of for binder clips?
Click The Image Below To See The Hacks In Use