Miscellaneous Info< Back to Backpacking Info
This page is nothing more than random bits of advise for those planning a long distance hike:
Duct Tape is your friend. There are many uses for duct tape along the trail. They include: patching your tent so that water and/or bugs can't get in, covering blisters once you have run out of mole skin, insulating the hot metal pieces of a camp coffee pot, adding more padding to your backpack shoulder strap and more. But don't carry an entire roll. Just wrap 3-5 feet of the stuff around either your hiking poles, your water bottle or your fuel bottle. You will save the weight and will be very thankful when you need some of this miracle product.
Take care of your Feet. Next to being warm enough and having enough food and water, this is one of the most important aspects of long distance hiking. When buying boots or shoes be sure to get them one half to a whole size larger than your normal shoe size. Your feet will swell during a long distance hike. If they have no room to swell you will be more prone to getting blisters. As for the type of shoe or boot there are various brands and types. Research and buy what appeals to you.
If you get blisters, unless you manage them properly, they will end your hike. Wear good quality hiking socks such as Thorlos . With a sock liner the friction encountered when hiking will be between the sock liner and the sock and not your feet. What if you do get blisters? The moment you feel a 'hot spot', which is a place where a blister is forming, stop immediately and apply some Mole Skin. This product works best to prevent blisters as well as reduce the discomfort when you get blisters. I have personally found that if a blister appears, it's best to use a sterile pin, knife, nail clipper or even your finger nails to pop the blister and let the fluid drain. Then, wipe the area, apply an antibacterial or alcohol wipe, then apply the moleskin. You can also use duct tape in a pinch. But duct tape tends to shift around while you are hiking.
Most long distance hikers carry some light weight camp shoes such as Crocs or shower shoes as it is good to get out of your boots and socks at the end of the day to air out your feet.
Chaffing- This condition can also end your hike early. Chaffing is caused by excessive heat and sweat in the groin area due to hiking. Bacteria results from this combination and, if left untreated, can cause severe irritation in the groin area. Preventative measures include using a chafing treatment such as Gold Bond or BodyGlide before you start your hike, cleaning yourself in that area as often as possible by showering or using an antibacterial or alcohol based wipe of some sort. Changing your underwear as
Pack Weight- This subject always ignites a fiery discussion among backpackers. If your pack is too heavy it will make for a miserable trip. If you don't believe me, read about it Here. On the other hand, if you don't have everything that you need to have a good trip, you will suffer as well. The number that I have heard floated around is that your pack weight should be around 10% of your body weight. That is all well and good under optimal circumstances. If you are only doing a weekend backpacking trip and water along your route is plentiful, then the 10% rule is feasible. However, if it is going to be cold during your trip, the trip will be more than 25 miles or water availability is tight, your pack will be heavier. I've had my pack weight as high as 20% or more of my body weight when hiking for a week or more. The key is to use common sense in this area. Try to save weight as much as possible. But don't sacrifice comfort or nourishment for the sake of saving a few pounds. Use lightweight gear and utilize freeze dried meals to save weight.
Keep Those Feet Dry- When it comes to crossing a swollen stream or a stream with no rocks to hop or trees to shimmy across there are 3 ways to get across it: 1) walk through it and have wet boots, socks and feet; 2) Take off your boots and socks and walk across in Crocs or shower shoes; 3) walk across barefooted. All 3 of these solutions involve taking off your boots/socks, carrying them and still having wet feet afterwards.
I was recently (March, 2019) hiking with Mike Kilby of northern Virginia. We were doing a loop hike in Sky Meadows State Park, VA when we came across a swollen stream that we could not cross. Mike K mentioned that, in the past, he always kept 2 black plastic trash bags in his backpack. He placed one over each leg and could cross streams like this and his feet would stay dry. Since we didn't have any black plastic trash bags, we had to abandon the loop that we were planning to hike. So when I got home I got 2 black plastic trash bags, 4 rubber bands and placed them in a medium sized freezer bag. The next time I encounter a situation like this, I can cross the stream and stay dry.
Know of any other words of wisdom that would help those planning a long distance hike If so, please Contact Me and I will list it here and give you credit for the information.
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