After you learn how to train for hiking trip and gather all the gear you need, like a hiking flashlight and the other Ten Essentials, it’s time to hit the trail and get out in nature. But even after training for a hike and obtaining your backpack and equipment for a camping trip, there’s still a lot of learning that comes only with experience.
However, do as those who have gone before you have done and learn a few extra tips and tricks. Ready to hit the trail? Here are 12 hiking hacks for your next hiking trip.
#1 Create a Water Jug Lantern with a Headlamp
Need to create more ambient light inside the tent? Strap your headlamp to a gallon water jug or lean a flashlight against your water bottle.
This trick has been used by hikers and outdoor enthusiasts for a long time in their hiking trip — and for a good reason! It’s incredibly versatile and able to reduce the amount of lighting-oriented gear you need, thereby lightening your load.
#2 Line Your Backpack with a Trash Bag
Does your hiking trip call for rain? Protect your backpack from the elements a touch more by lining it with a plastic trash bag.
Creating an extra bit of waterproofing, you can protect your packed gear in a torrential downpour or even if you find yourself unexpectedly needing to cross a river to reach your destination.
#3 Add a Wine Cork to Keys
Afraid of dropping your car keys and losing them in the lake? Attach a wine cork to the keychain to make them float. Adding the cork is simple!
You can even turn it into a DIY project and accessorize it with colorful, nature-inspired charms and beads. Just be sure it doesn’t sink and test it in your sink or bathtub at home first.
#4 Unstick a Zipper with Lip Balm or Candle Wax
If you come across a jammed or stuck zipper on a backpack or sleeping bag, no worries! With your packed lip balm (SPF-rated, of course) you brought for sun protection, you can rub it into the stuck zipper to get it loose.
Simply jiggle the zipper back and forth until it’s free. You can perform this same trick with solid and unmelted candle wax if it’s available, or even soap.
#5 Waterproof Your Matches
It’s always wise to bring storm-rated matches in a watertight container to ensure you can light a fire and stay warm.
However, if you don’t have time to run out to the recreation store to pick up a pack of quality, weather-resistant matches, you can do it yourself with a few household items. Using candle wax, shellac, nail polish, or turpentine in your hiking trip you can coat the standard matches to make them waterproof.
#6 Mark Trails with Biodegradable Flagging Tape
Keep yourself from getting lost and mark trees, rocks and more with flagging tape. But not just any tape — biodegradable tape that will decompose wherever you roll it on. This way, you can find your way back should you lose the trail or find yourself disoriented.
#7 Use a Pillbox as a Spice Drawer
You can’t carry your entire kitchen spice drawer, but you can bring along a few basics. Using a small pillbox, fill each divided section with one of your favorite spices.
Making chili over the campfire? Bring the garlic powder and spicy red pepper flakes. Have plans for a pasta dish? Don’t forget the oregano. Bring whatever suits your tastes and makes the most sense for your hiking trip planned meals.
#8 Add Tea Bags to Your Hiking Boots
Borrow a pro tip from trail runners and fight off bad shoe odors with tea bags. If you find your hiking boots a bit rough on the nose, drop a tea bag (dry, of course) inside each to act as an odor-eater.
After a day, your hiking boots or trail runners should smell fresh once again. If your shoes are damp, stuff them with newspaper to help absorb the moisture.
#9 Make Soap Leaves with a Vegetable Peeler
When headed out on a hiking trip, you need to pack minimally. And since an entire bar of soap or bottle of body wash is a bit heavy and far more than you probably need, create single-use soap leaves instead.
How? With a vegetable peeler. Take the peeler and shave off a slim layer — one for each shower — and store them in a watertight plastic baggie.
#10 Make DIY Fire Starters
Forget to pick up fire starters? Make your own! Whether you use the dryer lint and wax method or the cotton ball and Vaseline trick, there are countless ways to make DIY fire starters. All you need is a few household goods that might be already lying around.
#11 Pack Sandpaper in Your Match Box
When you need to start a fire, make sure you can strike that match. Most often, a match can be ignited by striking it against a hard rock or surface.
But when you can’t find said rock or surface, what then? Well, it’s better to be prepared and add a strip of sandpaper to your matchbox. You never know when it might come in handy and save you from hypothermia in emergencies.
#12 Dry Clothes with Binder Clips
If your garments ever need to air out or dry after a wash, clip them to your pack with a binder clip. This safe and effective drying method allows you to continue on your journey, sans a clothes drying line between two trees. Instead, it can dry as you carry on with your day.
With these 12 hiking hacks, you’re ready for a hiking trip in the great outdoors. Try one or two of these clever hacks and see how they work for you. Get creative and adapt them to your own needs, too. You never know — you might be the next hiker to inspire others with your hack.