I hike often when the weather permits. Despite all of my experience in the woods I still screw up often out there. Here are my things to improve upon in 2011, learned the hard way from mistakes made in 2010.
- If the temperature is going to be around 50F at night I don’t need to bring the 10 degree bag. The 45 degree bag and some extra clothes will do just fine. I think I was a little too sweaty and uncomfortable last year because I figured the temperature would be approaching the limit of my bag. Not so! I can bring my warmth level up without having to bring out the big guns. I’ll save the 10 degree bag for March hikes, when the temps can get down in the teens depending on how high up you are.
- Bring three sets of clothes. In other words: two is not enough to remain dry. I sweat a lot, especially on hills. Being under the cover of trees doesn’t exactly facilitate quick drying of clothes. On more than a few hikes I’d have to get by on a soggy pair the next day because of this. Adding a third pair and using them in a rotating fashion works better. For socks, if possible hang the wettest pair on the outside of the pack so it can catch the breeze all day.
- Dry food is really boring. Bring more “wet” food. Warm, non-brick food gives you a physical AND mental boost.
- Don’t buy the cheap zipper bags. They break easily, leaving your stuff at risk of getting wet. Find a thicker set of zipper bags to keep things safe.
- Wear sock liners to avoid blisters. The second layer wicks moisture adds a little padding for more comfort.
- Bring a super-absorbent cloth to towel off sweat during hikes on hot days. The sleeve of your shirt isn’t cutting it. A super-light camping towel could do the job just fine, and it can fit in one of the side pockets of the pack.