7 Expert Trekking Tips You Must Know

Today I’m sharing with you some useful tips that I have learnt from trekking over the years. These tips will help you stay warm on the coldest days and take on the biggest uphill climbs with ease.

So without further ado, here are 7 trekking tips every trekker must know-

1. Always carry a clothesline and clips

This never strikes anyone, but this simple hack has saved me time and time again. A clothesline helps you to dry out your clothes anywhere. You can tie them on branches, on trek poles, even inside your tent.

On a trek, it is inevitable that your clothes get wet. Most of it is sweat. All you have to do is to dry them out. The fastest way to dry out clothes is to let the wind and air take care of it. You don’t really need a sunny day. A couple of hours out in the open takes care of most drying.

On a side benefit, carrying a clothesline has helped reduce my backpack weight. Over the years I have never carried more than 3 t-shirts on a trek. I always wash a t-shirt and hang it out to dry. That helps me to cycle t-shirts instead of carrying a spare. A clothesline has also helped keep my split shoe intact and kept my torn backpack together.

Carry a 15 feet thin line with 4 cloths clips. That’s all you need.

A clothesline and a couple of clips are light and easy to carry, and go along way in helping you on a trek. Picture by Arjun Majumdar

2. Convert your shoes into sandals carry less weight

You can avoid carrying sandals/chappals if you convert your shoes into slip-ons when not trekking. This is a simple hack which has again helped me save me weight on a trek. When not trekking, I untie the top three rows of my shoelaces, loosely tie them into a double knot and convert my shoe into a slip on. When I want to go out to the loo or to the kitchen, I simply wear the shoe like a sandal. I don’t need to put on any socks. It takes me the same time, but I am better protected from the cold or any water falling on my feet. Most camps are undulating. With these shoes, I don’t slip either.

This hack has helped me save a lot of weight on a trek. No more sandals.

Make sure to tie a firm knot around your shoes while using them as sandals. Picture by Ryan Venattu

3. Wear a Sun Cap that has flaps

Wearing a Sun Cap with flaps has stopped my sunburns by almost 80%. My skin is very sensitive. I sunburn within half an hour. But ever since I have started using a Sun Cap with flaps, I have stopped burning up. They have protected the back of my neck (which is the most sensitive area), my face and my head. I still tan on a trek, but it is quite negligible. Also, I have stopped using sunscreen. I never liked this gooey stuff on my body, and now with these Sun Caps, I have totally stopped using sunscreen. If you are trekking, a Sun Cap with flaps is godsent.

Always attach a flap to your sun cap. Picture by Sandhya UC

4. Always trek with two trekking poles

Use two trek poles instead of one. I think Swathi has covered this in her earlier mails but I cannot repeat this enough. There is so much difference in trek efficiency between two trek poles and one, that I cannot sing enough about it. Your balance is better, your speed jumps quite a bit, and your stability is a lot more. Also, your knees, toes and ankles are less sore after a hard days trek if you use two trek poles.

On a flight they go easily as check-in bags. Instead of stuffing them inside your backpack, just tie them together and check them in independently. They go safer without any breakage.

Trek Leader Geet Tryambake using two trekking poles.

5. Use micro-steps while climbing uphill

Use micro-steps for uphill climbs. It is a deliberate step so it takes time to get the hang of it. Once you do, then you will never tire on an uphill climb. How do you do it? When you put one foot in front of the other, keep only a 2 inch gap between the heel of the front leg and the toe of the back. When the back leg has to move forward, repeat the step. Keep a distance of only 2 inches between the heel of the front leg and the toe of the back.

As you repeat this step, ensure you do not allow your breathing to rise above ‘slightly more than normal’. If you notice your breathing picking up, reduce your pace of your microstep even further.

With micro-steps you can do an entire pass crossing without stopping once. Surprisingly, this slow micro-step is incredibly fast. That’s because your fellow trek mates always stop to take a breather and you don’t. Soon you have long passed them.

Micro-step is not easy. Your natural instinct will make you take longer strides. But if you master micro-steps you can take on any big, long uphill climb effortlessly.

Note the 2-inch gap between the toe and heel. Picture by Ryan Venattu

6. Use Betadine solution to purify water

All you need to do is add 4 drops in one litre of water. Rest the water for half an hour. It kills most germs. Betadine solution is the cheapest and the easiest way to get clean water. Make it a practice. You get betadine solution in small bottles in all medical stores. Pour directly from the bottle. Stop asking your trek organiser or trek leader if the water is good. Make it a habit to use betadine solution on any water.

Betadine smells a bit funny. That’s good. You know it is disinfecting.

If you don’t find Betadine solution, you can also use Cipladine. It has the same composition and use. Picture by Saurabh Sawant

7. Do not wear cotton clothes on a trek

Finally, don’t wear cotton on a trek. Anything. Not t-shirts, not socks, not vests. Cotton absorbs too much of sweat/water and releases too little of it. It keeps the water to itself leaving you cold and miserable. A slightly wet socks passes on the wetness to the shoes. So now over a period of time, your inner shoe becomes wet (you can’t see it). The shoe causes blisters, starts to stink and your feet feel sore. These are very microscopic wetness which you cannot feel with your fingers.

A wet cotton undergarment makes your core body temperature drop rapidly. As Indian we love cotton. But on a trek it is synthetic that works best.

So that’s it for today then. 7 useful tips that you could use on your treks.

If you have tips of your own, then drop in a comment on this article.

Similarly, if you have any questions, again, drop in a comment.

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19 thoughts on “7 Expert Trekking Tips You Must Know

    1. Hi, while you will have water at the campsite, the suggestion refers to exceptional situation where you do not have extra clothes and the ones you have have become extremely dirty. Even then, washing refers to rinsing it with water to remove dirt and drying it. Here you need be economical with water 🙂

  1. Thanks Arjun such a short, precise and useful information. I have done few treks with IH and I can say these are really very useful tips for trekking.
    Anyway, your lot of Youtube videos already help us to prepare better for any Trek’s 🙂
    Thanks again for sharing your trek experience and knowledge with us.

  2. The first tip is really very useful. I carried a clothes line and pins on KMY (through MEA) and despite having to walk in pouring rain and under water falls, I was able to sort of dry my trekking suit for the next day. The only problem used to be finding a place to put up the line! Where the KMVN camps had sort of verandahs it was easy but in Quonset huts it was really a problem. However, Indiahikes uses tents so one will have to find a pair of trees for putting up the line. And that will be of no use if its raining.

    Regarding underclothes and socks I will beg to differ. Synthetics are really uncomfortable (at least to me). My take is carry extra sets (properly ranger rolled and put in polythene bags) especially socks. And do not start the day’s trek in wet underclothes! If you (men) do not have a dry set better carry on with just jacket and trousers!

  3. The first two and fifth Tips were very unique and out of the box that never triggered my mind of Treks but non the less very useful

  4. thanks a lot arjun. i have done just one trek till now and it was with you people only. thanks to your insightful detailed trekking tips, it was a breeze. you r these tips are new for me and shall definitely be followed in my next trek

  5. Regarding the tip to use trekking boots as slip on sandals, I think Swati differs a little. She has suggested that one carries a pair of good quality floater/sandals. It is additional weight but if the trekking shoes get wet one has something reasonable to walk in! I carry a small quantity old newspaper on treks. If the shoes get wet fill these with balled up newspaper which absorbs the water and helps quick drying! And keep the balled newspaper in polythene bag, spread out a little at the next camp it dries fast.

  6. Thank you for the helpful tips. The clothesline and clothespins would save me a lot of weight. India hikes is doing a great job. Can’t wait to do a trek with you all!

  7. Great tips. On water purification using Betadine solution, the issue is wait time and after taste. What about people with thyroid problem ?
    I use a Sawyer mini, available online, which takes care of bacterial contamination and at high altitude viruses are generally not an issue. One has to take care that the filter does not freeze so have to keep it close to body when temp falls close to freezing.
    And one can use a steripen to take care of viruses.

  8. Wow…. I did not had any idea about these tips… These tips can really go long time ligtening my bagpack burden….. Thanks for ur tips…. Looking forward for more input….

  9. excellent guidelines for novice trekkers in the Indian conditions.
    But I am against wearing nylon socks or undergarments, in the sultry heat of the hills they would create more probs on the skin and nylon socks would lead to the fungus in between the toes.
    In the wilderness the need to carry a clothesline, when there are tent cords, trees, rocks and while trekking hangs the washing outside your rucksack for drying.
    Indians being allergic to allopathic med, the better choice is ‘Fatkari'(alm)for water purification and in the upper ranges in the wilderness, plenty of natural water resources/ice.
    we Indians are used to chappals and a light nylon flip flop does not weigh much and easily hung outside the rucksack. At rest at the BC, one would like the sweaty feet to get fresh air and sun than going back to stinky boots again and the boots also need airing at the rest time.
    Yes, trekking poles, scientifically good (western style) but for an Indian, they would be a hindrance to speed free walking. For snow region, a trekker would be carrying an ice axe. Indians would like to have a bamboo stick, which they could discard, after reaching the plains.
    the micro-steps gain would check natural gait and speed, and the close feet may result in toppling down (as seen novices, wearing crampons during expeditions).
    Substitute cotton ‘patka’ (wear by the Sikhs and the Commandoes)with goggles, is easy to wash, rec for a sun cap with flaps. It can also function as a mask in this COVID scenario.
    But all the same the trekking tips by Mr Mazumdar are more scientific than clinging to the old Indian city habits.
    A small First Aid kit is also rec for the trek.(IH presumably are accompanied by a Doc)

  10. While climbing stairs , use tip toe and full step alternatively . When you tip toe , your calf muscle will be used . And the quadriceps , when you full step . While tip toeing you will experience out of breath lesser than full step . So try to tip toe for some time followed by a full step regime . Repeat this . You will remain ‘changa’ on the stairs .