Summer Hiking – Tips For Your Walk In The Woods

August 10, 2016 D'Arcy McLeish

Hiking isn’t often on my list of things to do. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve done a lot of hiking. But most of it has been out of necessity; a long approach to a rock climb, a hike to a remote surf break, hiking to ski. I’ve never really gone hiking to go hiking. But the older I get, the less interested I am in conquering something and the more interested I am in just enjoying something. Hiking is all about enjoyment. It’s a simple activity that doesn’t require any special athletic ability. It just requires a good pair of shoes and an open mind. Besides, who doesn’t like a walk in the woods? I’ve been doing all kinds of hiking over the last few years; short hikes, long hikes, multi day hikes, pretty much anything I can think of. But it’s different from days past because all I’m doing is hiking. No climbing gear to lug around, no skis, surfboards, bikes, just me and my personal kit. With that mileage, I’ve picked up a few tips that I thought might be worth sharing.

One of the best things about hiking is the places you see. Photo - D'Arcy McLeish
One of the best things about hiking is the places you see.
Photo – D’Arcy McLeish

The first is footwear. Like most sports, you’re on your feet. But with hiking, you are, after all, walking. All the time. Sometimes for miles with no end in sight. Some of it’s technical, some of it’s mellow. There are different types of hiking for sure, but unless I’m going onto a glacier and mixing in a little mountaineering, I now only wear one type of footwear: trail runners. That’s right, I don’t wear hiking boots. Why? First, boots are heavy. Second, unless your ankles have issues or you’re carrying an extremely heavy load, there just isn’t any point in wearing anything other than plush, comfy trail running shoes. The break in period is hours rather than days, they are very light, most of them are grippy on almost every surface and even with a moderate load, they can pretty much handle anything. On trails like the Pacific Crest and the Appalachian Trail, where people are doing hikes that span months, trail shoes are the norm. Sure, they may not last very long, but they’re typically cheaper than boots so you can buy another pair when yours wear out. But the biggest reason is comfort. They comfortable. Way more so than a pair of stiff, blister-inducing hikers.

Northern BC has some of the best opportunities for hiking in the world. Photo - Steve Rosset
Northern BC has some of the best opportunities for hiking in the world.
Photo – Steve Rosset

The second tip is weight. On short hikes lasting less than a day, weight isn’t such a big issue. But on multi-day epics, weight is everything. So if you’re contemplating a big, multi-day mission, spend the money to go light. Extremely light. Every extra gram you carry gets heavier the longer you walk. So pack appropriately. It’s a little more pricey but well worth it.

Always bring a blade of some sort when you head out into the woods.
Always bring a blade of some sort when you head out into the woods.

Third, bring a knife. Every time you go for a walk in the woods, bring a knife. This can be in the form of a multi-tool or multi-use knife like a swiss army knife or a Leatherman, but whatever it is, make sure you have a sharp blade. They are the handiest tool you will ever have in the wild and will save your life one day.

Un bon p'tit cafe...the only way to start the day. Especially when you're out in the mountains. Photo - D'Arcy McLeish
Un bon p’tit cafe…the only way to start the day. Especially when you’re out in the mountains.
Photo – D’Arcy McLeish

Another tip I picked up, which goes directly against my weight thing, is pack stuff you like to eat and drink. For instance, I always bring coffee and a method to make it. Short hikes, I leave it, but anything that’s a full day affair or longer, I have good coffee that I can have every morning and every afternoon. It’s essential for me.

Love hiking, especially early in the day.  Photo - Steve Rosset
Love hiking, especially early in the day.
Photo – Steve Rosset

‘Cause that’s the thing. You want to go light, be prepared and be comfortable in your footwear, but your mind has to be comfortable as well. So a little extra weight in the beverage department is ok with me because I gain so much in being stoked for a hot, strong, black morning brew before setting out every day. It also motivates me to shave every possible gram off the other gear I need.

I like hiking. There’s no agenda, no time limit and the freedom of just wandering in the woods is one to behold and cherish.

Be safe, and go for a walk in the woods.