7 Expert Trekking Tips You Must Know

Today I’m sharing with you some useful trekking 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.

Trekking Tips - Clothesline and Clips - Indiahikes
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/slippers 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.

Shoe Hacks - Indiahikes
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.

Arjun Majumdar - Indiahikes
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 — one of the trekking tips most often ignored. 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.

Trekking Poles - Indiahikes
Trek Leader Geet Tryambake using two trekking poles. Picture from the Indiahikes archives

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.

Trekking Shoes - Indiahikes
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.

Betadine Solution - Indiahikes
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 — one of the major trekking tips — 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.


Conclusion

So that’s it for today then. 7 useful trekking 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.

Arjun Majumdar

Arjun Majumdar

An entrepreneur by profession and a trekker by passion, Arjun started Indiahikes in 2008. With a vision to explore and document new trails, solve problems in the mountains and implement sustainable ways of trekking. Arjun leads Indiahikes, a community that has changed the face of trekking in India. He has written extensively for Discover India magazine and is a TedX speaker. He frequently talks at institutions about his entrepreneurial journey, but his favourite topic is always the impact of trekking on the mind, body and spirit. Read Arjun's other articles. Watch Arjun's TedX talk. Watch Arjun speak about our trekking trails. Learn from Arjun about what it's like to work at Indiahikes.