Here are some vital lessons I’ve learned through many years backpacking, mountaineering, hiking, and serving in the armed forces. Use these tips to improve novice to expert hiking adventures.
Probably the single most important piece of gear that I own. No matter where i’ve been, whether it’s cold and icy, or hot and bone dry, choosing proper footwear that is well broken in has made the difference between painful sucking and kicking serious butt on the trail. My go to, are lightweight, mid ankle, waterproof approach boots that are comfortable while trekking, but can handle technical terrain when you need them to. When mountaineering, I have 2 pairs in my arsenal depending on the duration of my trip. A single boot for light and fast 2-3 day trips, and a double boot for longer trips that would require drying out the inner liner faster than a single boot can. There is no one size fits all pair of footwear, so you’ll need more than one pair to do the job right depending on your adventure. Choose wisely.
Waterproof your Gear:
If you want to enjoy a trip even when there is rain, waterproofing your pack and having rain gear is essential in areas like the pacific North West and along the Appalachian trail. Now, I am not saying you shouldn’t use a pack cover (really i am saying don’t use a pack cover), I’m simply saying there are better alternatives that are less frustrating and annoying. External pack covers do not work for persistent rain over several days. We need something more robust, dependable and redundant. Plastic trash compactor bags or heavy construction bags 2 mil or thicker are what I use consistently in backpacking light and mountaineering applications. When using 3 separate liners, and grouping items when top loading your pack, we build in redundancies to prevent catastrophic failures. If one liner is punctured or compromised then the whole system doesn’t fail and it may save your life. Combined with ziplock freezer bags for smaller groups of items like toiletries, personal medic kit, or spare batteries and a lighter make this an inexpensive way to keep your things dry.
If you really want to enjoy a trip, please do not wear cotton. Cotton kills because it actually absorbs moisture more readily. Seriously, and when it gets wet it: 1) Is abrasive, 2) does not retain heat, 3) is very difficult to dry.
I use either synthetics or Merino wool exclusively and you'll find no cotton anywhere, period.