Experience the Trails of Pennsylvania™

Hiking Tips

Dehydration . . . . In Winter

Did you know that you can dehydrate while hiking during the winter? Most people associate dehydration with hot summer days. Even though that is the most common time of the year that hikers dehydrate, dehydration can also occur during the winter months.

Even when you are hiking during the winter months, always remember to bring along an adequate supply of water. I always carry 2 liters of water with me; if I’m hiking 3 miles or 10 miles. If you are going to hike 10 miles or more, make sure you have a source of water at the end of your hike, or better yet, bring along a water filter so you can fill up along the way.

The best way to avoid dehydration on the trail during the winter is to make sure you’re hydrated before you start. Drink plenty of water on the morning of the hike. If you have an hour or two drive to the trailhead, bring along 20 ounces or more to drink on the way. And if you are doing an overnighter, make sure to drink at least a liter in the morning before you break camp and start your second day of hiking. You would be surprised at the amount of water your body gives off while you sleep.

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Packing Lighter Is The Way To Go

A lighter pack can make the world of difference on a hike. With a light pack you can enjoy your surroundings more and hike longer than with a heavy pack. You should try to trim ounces where you can because ounces will soon add up to pounds. Using plastic spoons, bowls and cups instead of metal is a good place to start.

If you are just starting out, try not to pack more than 1/5 to 1/4 of your body weight. More than this will tire you quickly. As you hike more and build up your body strength, you can pack up to 1/3 of your body weight.
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Insulate Your Boots For Winter Hiking

If you are planning on doing some hiking this winter, here’s a little tip to help keep your feet warmer.

To insulate your boots for winter hiking, trace your foot onto a piece of closed-cell foam. Cut out the trace and attach smaller pieces for arch support. Place these new insoles into your boots, and with time, they will mold to the shape of your foot, and provide additional insulation against the winter cold.

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Ground Cloth For Your Tent

Chances are when you purchased your new tent it didn’t come with a ground cloth. The material used for the flooring of most tents is a little heavier and more rugged than the fabric used for the tent walls. But you’ll get many more years of use from your tent if you use a ground cloth as well, protecting your tent from sticks and stones.

Not only does a ground cover help extend the life of your tent, it also helps keep you dry, especially during all day soakers or very heavy downpours. You will need to make sure that the edges of the cloth are folded under your tent to prevent rain from being funneled under it. Even better yet, cut the ground cloth a few inches smaller than the tent floor to elimnate the need to fold.

Your ground cloth will surely get damp as it will be between you and the ground. Just like your tent, you will need to make sure you dry your ground cloth thoroughly. If possible, dry it before you pack up and leave camp, and at the very least, make sure you dry it as soon as you get home.
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Sleeping Bags And Colder Weather

With fall here and winter just around the corner, nothing can make an overnight backpacking trip less enjoyable than having the wrong sleeping bag.

Most sleeping bags sold today come with a temperature raiting. You should only take the rating as a suggestion and not an absolute value. Also, only compare temperature ratings within a manufacturer’s line: a 25 degree rating for one manufacturer may be a 35 degree rating for another.

Mummy style sleeping bags are the warmest style sleeping bags available because they have less air inside to heat. You can also pull the hood over your head to help warm the interior of the bag and retain your body heat.

And finally, don’t forget about your sleeping pad. The warmest sleeping bag will do you no good if you don’t have an insulating barrier between you and the cold ground. During the coldest months consider using two open celled sleeping pads stacked on top of each other.
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