Four Essential Hiking or Backpacking Hacks
Hiking in and of itself is not a complicated process. However, it is almost a guarantee that you will encounter a range of annoying challenges that can take time and ingenuity to overcome. Let’s take a look at a few hacks that can prove to be invaluable, because they are ridiculously easy to put together and apply in the field.
Removing Burrs and Sticky Items
All it takes is one misstep and you can be covered with burrs, thorns or other pokey-things that can be incredibly irritating. Many of them are also difficult and time-consuming to remove by hand, and you also run the chance of getting poked and jabbed along the way. One of the best things to use to remove these items is sandpaper. Take a sheet of sandpaper and gently rub it over the fabric until the surface is smooth. The objects will either get pulled off with the paper or they will fall out underneath. This works well with hard fabrics such as canvas, denim and wool.
You can also use duct tape to remove foreign objects from material without getting poked in many cases as well. Simply apply the tape over the affected area, smooth over with your hand and give the strip a good yank. This is an ideal option for softer fabrics that can tear from the abrasion of sand paper. For remaining pieces, use a pair of tweezers and remove the fragments one by one.
Waterproofing Matches with Epoxy
Use some quick-setting resin from an epoxy tube and apply them to the heads of your matches. This will make them waterproof and should allow you to light the matches on the first strike. While wax or petroleum jelly work well to extend the burn life of matches, these items do not make the heads waterproof. Consequently, if you get the matches wet and they won’t light, then these tricks may prove to be useless. Getting wax or petroleum jelly on the heads can also inhibit their ability to ignite as you strike the match as well.
All you need to do is squirt a little bit of the resin on your finger and roll the head of the match around in order to apply an even coat. You don’t need a lot, and it may take some trial and error to determine the proper amount necessary to waterproof them without saturating the heads. Allow to dry for about a minute before testing. Run the match under water and then try to light it. The match should ignite on the first or second try. If not, add more or less epoxy until you find the proper amount.
Straw Blister Packs for Ointment
Carrying around a tube of ointment can take up space and lead to unintentional messes if they accidentally get opened. You can make single-dose packs out of thick plastic straws to eliminate this problem. Simply cut the straws into the desired lengths, melt one end and crimp closed. Add the antibiotic ointment into the other end and then melt that one as well. Cut off one of the ends when needed and squeeze. Nothing could be easier.
Keeping Things Dry
Take a large plastic garbage bag and line the inside of your backpack to keep items inside dry. This is a great way to compliment the use of a tarp or bag on the outside of your backpack due to the fact that outer bags can slip, tear or make getting at accessories difficult. Place your phone inside a small zipper lock freezer bag and put it inside of your backpack instead of in your pocket. You can still use the touchscreen through the plastic during the rain or snow.
Finally, consider bringing a few binder clips with you on your next hike. They can be attached to the outside of your backpack and used to hang wet socks or clothing. These items can dry as you hike instead of lugging around a bag of wet items until your next rest stop.
Keep your eyes open for more hacks that can make hiking a lot easier and hassle-free. The more tricks you pick up will help you to focus on the task at hand while reducing the chances of encountering minor, but irritating and time-consuming problems along the way.