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Beginner Skills

Don’t Just Survive on Your Next Long Trip—Thrive

Coming out of the woods tired and dirty is a rejuvenating experience. But it's possible to overdo a good thing. Take care of yourself on your next hike with these five simple quality-of-life hacks, and you'll reap the benefits.

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Brush Your Teeth 

Not a joke. Hewing as close as possible to your normal hygiene routine is a subtle key to enjoyable overnights. Skip it and you’ll widen the rift between your life at camp and your life at home—and end up in a survival mentality rather having fun. Hardcore ultralighter? Toothbrushes don’t weigh much, but bring a travel brush (soft bristles, please) to further shave down on grams. For a short trip, bring your favorite travel-size toothpaste; for a longer one, consider drying it out into dots with a dehydrator. Whatever you do, store it safely away from bears and smaller critters.

Eat Right

You’ll be tempted to fill your food bag with freeze-dried foods and energy bars you’ve never tried—that’s what hikers do, right? Better plan: Eat what you like. Exertion, altitude, and fatigue will alter your appetite, so stick with familiar foods to make the fueling process easier. (We’re big fans of the humble Snickers bar). For short trips, most people won’t need to carefully plan out their intake, so eat whatever sounds good. On a longer jaunt? Make sure to eat a balanced diet with enough protein to keep your muscles going.

Tell Someone Your Plan 

Heading out solo? We have good news and bad news for you. Good news: Search-and-rescuers have an excellent success rate of finding missing hikers. Bad news: They have to know you’re missing. Tell a trusted person what you’re up to and when you’ll be back. Make sure to note the trailhead you’ll be departing from, your planned itinerary, and what time or date they should sound the alarm bells if you fail to make it back. 

Adopt the 60/10 Rule 

There’s no hell like bonking in the middle of a big day. To stay fueled, hydrated, and happy, hike for 60 minutes, then stop for 10. During rests, sit on your pack and throw on a puffy to stay warm (you’ll be surprised how quickly you cool down, especially when you’ve been sweating.) Down at least 200 calories and 8 ounces of water then get a move on before you catch a chill.

Weightless

When you carry less, it takes less energy to go uphill or hike more miles each day. A lighter pack has less impact on your knees, back, and feet—making ultralight backpackers less prone to injury. Cutting a few pounds out can go a long way; get started by checking out our packing lists.