Trail To Summit is proud to celebrate 100 posts! Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey! I began this blog to keep track of my hikes and help others with their aspirations to hike the 4000 foot peaks in New Hampshire. Thanks to your interest, I have included trip reports for hikes all over New England, a new story-like installment of my John Muir Trail thru hike, recipes, tips, and gear reviews.
For my 100th post, I’d like to share how to be a more efficient hiker. These are tips I’ve learned along the way and I hope it helps you to get the most out of each hike!
1) Fuel your body.
Think about nutrition before, during, and after your hike! I like to drink at least a liter of water on my drive to the trailhead (prehydrate!) and use a bladder to keep myself drinking throughout the day. Have snacks within reach and eat all day vs one or two dedicated food breaks.
2) Take micro breaks and make the most out of them.
When I stop for too long, I get stiff and sometimes find it difficult to get back to the speed and rhythm I was hiking at before. Take numerous 20 second to one minute breaks versus a 5-10 minute break. Make the most out of each stop. If you need a breather, grab some water as well or snap a couple photos. Think ahead. Are you just going to stop again to put on microspikes? Do it now while you add another layer of clothing.
3) Go lightweight!
Your body will be much more efficient with less weight on your back, hips, shoulders, and even feet! Think about the hike you plan on doing and take items that would be useful in a situation that is likely to occur. You don’t need to prepare for a blizzard on a typical summer hike. Keep extra items at home and replace that five pound pack!
4) Plan your next three steps.
If you’re hiking on rocky terrain this is especially important. Avoid missteps or following a less than ideal route by looking ahead. Visualize your next three steps as you hike.
5) Find your stride.
Get into a rhythm. Your steps should be smooth and in control. This is especially important going downhill to prevent injury.
6) Wear gaiters!
I used to only wear gaiters in winter to keep snow out of my boots, but I discovered summer gaiters. If you wear low trail runners like me, they keep all debris out of your shoes so you can keep on hiking.
7) Think prevention vs treatment.
Feeling a hot spot? Do yourself a favor and take a couple minutes to treat it. Same goes for ailments such as dehydration. You’d be surprised how much you slow down from issues that are easily treatable.
8) Use trekking poles and use them correctly.
A lot of people have issues with trekking poles. Some have even compared them to canes and act as if it’s a weakness to use them. Your knees will thank you down the road! When using trekking poles with straps, put your hand through the bottom of the strap. Tighten the strap so it is snug around your wrist supporting you. You don’t need to give the handle a death grip! A light grip is all you need.
As they say, the best way to get in shape for hiking is to hike. Start small and build your way up. Hike on a regular basis and if you’re comfortable with it, hike year round! Winter is my favorite season to hike in and I don’t have to spend all Spring getting back in hiking shape!
10) Take meaningful steps.
When the trail gets hard, this is how I deal with it. Make every step purposeful and strong. You’re putting in the effort and you’ll feel stronger instead of dragging yourself up.
11) Be prepared.
Do your research! Find out the conditions you’ll most likely encounter, what you should bring (and what you could leave behind), bail out routes, and typical outing time. What is the route you’re planning on like? Do you need special skills to complete it? Will you run into other hikers or is the route more remote? Looking at maps, guidebooks, blogs, and other resources will help you have a more successful and efficient hike.
12) Get a water filter.
Instead of carrying loads of water or hoping you have enough, bring a filter. I like the Sawyer Mini filter. It weighs 3 ounces and only costs $25.00! You can learn how to make it into an inline filter here.
13) Don’t talk with everyone!
You may find yourself surrounded by dozens of like minded, friendly people but be mindful of your schedule. A quick hello can turn into a 30 minute discussion about back country ethics or your favorite hikes. You don’t want to end up hiking out in the dark because you couldn’t keep moving. Talk as you hike or make hellos short.
14) Get up the tough stuff quickly.
My big secret about being a more efficient hiker is learning how to deal with the hard sections. I often quickly ascend a steep section leaving those behind me wondering what I must have eaten for breakfast. It’s really all in your mind. Find a landmark to hike to or a number of steps to reach before you stop (and then go past it)! Runners use this method all the time. I keep up my pace and really focus on my stride as I go. If I choose to count steps it could be anywhere from 50 to 300. Yes, in the Sierras I made a goal to keep going up a steep section until I hit 300 steps. Look at your route and get going. Every time I look up ahead I add another 20 steps. If you’re hiking with a group, you get a longer break! Use your time wisely: grab a snack, get hydrated and get a few pictures of what you just accomplished!
What are your tips for being a more efficient hiker? Leave a comment below!
Last modified: May 23, 2015