International Trekking Tips That Only Experts Knew (Until Now)

You’ve got your shoes on, your backpack packed, and you’re ready to set off on your trek. But wait. Are you sure you’re ready to brave the wilderness? That you’ve got X, Y and Z? Because – spoiler alert – it’s unlikely that you’ll run across a grocery store in the great outdoors.

Don’t worry. We’ve got your back. These are trekking tips that have come straight from the hiking experts. Read on to learn how best to plan for your trekking trip.

Pre-Trek Know-Hows

How To Pack Your Bag

Most trekking guides will tell you what to pack. However, they may neglect to tell you the best ways to fit all of that stuff into your bag. The way your backpack feels determines how your body feels for the duration of the trek; sometimes, for well over a month.

Heavy Items: Place heavier items, like your tent and food, in the middle of your pack. They should lie as close to your spine as possible. This will keep your center of gravity intact, making balancing on uneven terrain easier.

Sleeping Bag: Most sleeping bags come with their own cover. You can ditch that and replace it with a heavy-duty trash bag. This is thinner, and also increases water-repellency. Always pack your sleeping bag at the bottom of your pack, since it’s the last thing you’ll need for the day. Packing this way also makes balancing yourself easier.

Liquids: You need your water bottle to be accessible, so it needs to go outside your pack. What you may not know is, it’s always a good idea to store any liquids outside your pack. This way, if the liquids spill, the contents inside your pack are spared.

Food Weight: Calculate the number of calories you’ll need for the trip. Depending on your needs, this could be as much as 15lbs (7kg) of food, or as little as 4lbs (2kg). So, planning matters. Dark chocolate, energy bars, nuts and dried fruits are dense with calories, whereas bread and veggies are not. You can save yourself a lot of weight by packing nutrient-dense foods.

Packing Food: Keep your food organized by day. Pack your meals in separate Ziplock bags, and carry snacks in your pocket. This will eliminate the need to unpack your food each time. The Ziplock bag also acts as a waterproof material.

As crazy as it sounds, another tip seasoned trekkers suggest is to pack your bag twice. By packing, unpacking, and packing again, you will remember things you’ve left out. You will also likely notice the unnecessary things that snuck their way into your bag, thus reducing weight.

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Waterproofing Hacks

Water Sealer: Buying waterproof equipment is expensive. But you need to carry a rain jacket, tarp, and tent that can withstand the elements. Even if you bought the expensive kind, they may need to be re-waterproofed with frequent use. For this, use a water sealer that is marketed for decks and fences. They are cheap alternatives to DWR sprays used on rain gear, and they can last longer.

Matchsticks: No experienced hiker would dream of venturing out without at least one box of matches, preferably the waterproof kind. However, waterproof matches are expensive. You can go the DIY route to save some money. Try dipping regular matches in nail polish or candlewax to waterproof them. You can even dunk them in a turpentine solution for five minutes and let them dry if you want to be fancy. Store these matches in a sealed plastic container (such as a medicine bottle) for increased protection. Don’t forget to cut a phosphorous strip and add it to the container so you can light them. Even “strike-anywhere” matches can be useless if all the surrounding rocks are wet, so you’ll want this strip.

A Cheap Alternative to Dry Bags: If you’ve bought bed sheet sets, then you’ll know they often come in a thick, plastic zipper or clip bag. These are excellent drybag alternatives. Use them to pack your towels and knick-knacks that sneak their way into your pack.

Drying Wet Boots: Alright, this isn’t strictly a waterproofing hack, but here’s what to do if your boots get wet: Stuff them with newspapers or paper towels and leave them overnight. This will draw out the moisture from unreachable spots, making for a happier trek.

Personal Safety

Solo Trips: If you’re planning on braving the great outdoors alone, leave your complete itinerary with someone you trust. It goes without saying, but STICK TO THIS ITINERARY. It’s easy to get lost and people should know where to look.

Medical Equipment: Not packing a basic first-aid kit is asking for trouble. If you’re trekking with a group, discuss this, so each trekker can bring in different first-aid essentials.

Travel Insurance: Trekking is risky. One missed step could result in a broken bone. You could find yourself wishing you had more arms and legs to pay for the hospital bill if you don’t have proper travel insurance. Importantly, you need to make sure you invest in a plan that can provide coverage for trekking or any other hazardous activities you plan to participate in. You can find a variety of coverage options by comparing plans online at Insubuy.

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Tips For When You’re on The Trek

What Not to Eat/Drink 

Snow: You will often hear that snow is a great substitute for water. After all, it is frozen water, right? In theory, yes. But when you eat snow, your body will use extra calories to turn snow into liquid. Those are precious calories. Eating snow also hastens hypothermia, which nobody wants. Instead, wait a couple of minutes to let the snow melt before drinking it. And as a further precaution, treat the water with iodine before consumption.

Fat And Protein-Rich Food: Avoid eating animal proteins during the day. These are hard to digest. Your body will divert energy that should be spent on the hike to digestion. Instead, stick to carb-rich food like crackers and granola during the day. Get your fill of proteins and fat as you’re winding down and preparing to sleep. 

Keeping Warm at Night

Do not keep your bonfire lit through the night. This is how forest fires begin. Fires can also attract wild animals, such as bears. But we understand, cold is unbearable, and you’ll do anything for heat. So, here are a few safer methods to keep warm:

Use your water bottle: Pour boiling water into a water bottle and wrap it in a t-shirt. Now, stick that in the bottom of your sleeping bag. It will temporarily work as a built-in furnace without the fire hazard.

Stay dry:  Getting wet, even from your own sweat while trekking in the winter, is extremely dangerous, and can lead to frostbite or hypothermia. If you find you’re starting to sweat during a cold-weather trek, you need to remove some layers. Ideally, you should be a bit cold if you stop, but your body heat should keep you at the right temperature without sweating while you hike. It’s much more difficult to get dry when you’re drenched with sweat than it is to put on an extra layer if you’re cold, so choose wisely.

The cat’s out of the bag. Use these tips wisely to make your next trekking trip much more enjoyable. They have been tried and tested by experts.

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