Manly Skills

The Gentleman’s Guide to Hiking/Backpacking

Afternoon gents, it’s Max from the Young Gentleman’s Guide here! First off, thank you all so much for the amount of traffic and support you gave my last post about my grandfather. I could not have predicted how much support it got, and I truly appreciate all of you who read and/or shared it. In any case, let’s get on with today’s post! So, if you read my post about my grandfather, you would know that he is quite the outdoorsman. As a result of his teachings as well as my experience in the Boy Scouts, I’ve picked up more than a few tricks of the trade when it comes to going out on the trail. While I may not be as much of master trailblazer like Grandpa or my even my own father, I still believe I’ve gathered enough knowledge, either from Grandpa or the Boy Scouts, to share with you young gents reading this post. So today, I’m going to share four (4) helpful tips to make your next hiking trip a little easier and more enjoyable.

1. Plan out your route ahead of time

Hiking Post

Every summer, my Boy Scout troop would go on a week-long, 50-mile hike in the High Sierra Mountains. It should be no surprise that such a venture required a meticulous amount of planning, including meal plans and, of course, planning our route. Grandpa, with the help of a few other guys in my family like my dad and my uncles, would scour over countless maps to figure out the best routes that could easily be completed in a week and had campsites near water sources. As a result of such planning, we have almost always been able to complete our hikes on time. But this should really go without saying. Planning out where you want to go will help figure out how many days you might be out, if you’ll be near any water sources, the kind of terrain you’ll be coming across, and if there are any viable camping areas along the trail. This will in turn help you figure out how much food and water to bring, and whether or not you’ll need overnight equipment like a tent or sleeping bag. So make sure to use a map, and figure out where you want to go before you even head out to the trailhead.

2. Pack the essentials first

When you’re planning for a hike, you should keep in mind the most important things: preventing blisters on your feet, staying hydrated, staying warm, and simply just trying to survive, especially if you’re planning to stay overnight in the wilderness. Because of this, you should keep in mind what equipment you should pack that helps you accomplish that. As such, the most important things to put in your pack are small, energy-packed foods that can easily fit in a small bag, (if you’re on a day hike, that is) and enough water to keep you hydrated for a few hours. And of course, in order to prevent blisters or other damage to your feet, make sure you are wearing proper walking/hiking shoes or boots that are just the right size. If your shoes are too tight, you potentially cause ingrown toenails, which can be an incredible pain if you’ve ever had to deal with them, but if your shoes are too loose, the friction from the constant rubbing of your feet in your boots can cause blisters, which can lead to infections if not taken care of. If you’re staying overnight, you’ll want to pack things to keep you warm. Jackets and/or sweaters are always good things to have, and a well-kept sleeping bag in good condition will obviously keep you warm and help you sleep better. And of course, a tent and a ground pad are also good things to take, so you can sleep as comfortably as you can. A decently-stocked first aid kit wouldn’t go amiss either. Just in case you get a blister, it’s always good to have some moleskin on hand to treat blisters, and some bandages and antibacterial to help dress cuts and other small injuries will also be extremely helpful. And these are just the most essential things. Now there may be other places that, by law, may require you to take some other things with you, so I would recommend doing a bit of research into wherever you plan on going, so you can be absolutely sure what you need to take with you.

3. Pack a little extra food

I know this may sound ridiculous, but just keep reading. Now, you hopefully will have figured out where you’re planning to go, and how long you’ll be on the trail for, but whether you’ll be out for three (3) hours or three (3) days, it’s always a good idea to pack a little extra food and water, usually about a day’s worth. The reason being that you may have miscalculated how long you would be out on the trail for, and need to camp out an extra day. Or in extreme cases, you might get lost, and need to take an extra day to either get rescued or find your way back onto the original route. In either case, it’s just always a good idea to have these extra rations on hand as a means to survive. Also, here’s a bonus tip. If you find yourself lost and need to camp out an extra day, find a nearby water source. It’s always a good idea to have as much water as you need close at hand as well as food.

4. Whenever possible, use the buddy system

Now, I’m willing to give Grandpa a pass on this one. He used to go on hikes on his own all the time, but because he’s been hiking and hunting for longer than I’ve been alive, he probably knows his way around the High Sierras better than I do my own house. But I’m  getting off-topic. If there’s one thing I can say I took away from the Boy Scouts without a doubt, it would be the buddy system. Always have a person to travel with, so you two can keep an eye each other. Better yet, if you can, travel with a group.  Not only will it make your hike more of a social experience and therefore more enjoyable, but in the event one of you gets lost, it’ll simply help them get found and rescued more quickly. On top of this, you can share food and water this way. If you run out of water on the trail before you reach your next water source, you can simply ask one of your buddies to share with you is they have any extra. In short, it’s just always a better idea to hike with a friend or even a group of friends if you can.

So there it is! Four (4) tips to help make your next hike a bit easier and more enjoyable. If you gents follow these simple tips, maybe one day you’ll be able to climb to the top of Mount Whitney like I did!

This was me at the top of Mt. Whitney the summer before my freshman year of high school

In any case, I hope you enjoyed reading today’s post. Please be sure to share the post, follow the blog, donte to our Patreon, and follow The Young Gentleman’s Guide on Facebook and Instagram. And on that note, this is Max from The Young Gentleman’s Guide, and I’ll see you next time!


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