There’s no way to “life hack” your way to an easy, breezy thru-hike, but these are some tips and tricks I learned along the way that might make trail life that much more wonderful, efficient, and tasty.
1. Sawyer Squeeze hack: If you have a Sawyer Squeeze, do yourself a huge favor and get this tiny adaptor piece. It allows you to screw your filter directly onto your clean water output. This way, you don’t have to carefully direct the filter into the bottle/bladder/whatever. You could even hold the whole contraption with one hand and keep hiking.
2. Conserve energy with a watch: By using a simple watch alarm, you can save a boatload of energy by keeping your phone off instead of using it as an alarm clock. Less energy you need = less battery weight you need to carry.
4. Leukotape > Duct tape: Duct tape is no match to the strength of Leukotape. Broken gear? Leukotape. Unruly blisters? Leukotape. Your microspikes break right before the most dangerous, snowy pass? MacGyver them back onto your shoes with, you guessed it, Leukotape.
5. Rip your bandana in half: First off, ladies, if you’re not already using a pee rag, get on that. It will change your life. This tip is just to note that you only need half a bandana for your pee rag and half a bandana for your sweat rag. Buy one bandana for both and save a buck at the Dollar General.
6. Rubber band organization: Bring a rubber band to keep your pot, lid, stove, and lighter together. Otherwise, these things are flying around the inside of your pack and chaos quickly ensues.
7. Cut off your tags: It seems silly, but cut off all your clothing, tent, backpack tags. I saved almost 1/4 lb doing this. Every ounce counts!
8. Location, location, location: Keep your sunscreen in an easily accessible spot so that you’re more likely to use it at least once a day. You’re more likely to develop skin cancer than fall off a mountain. This tip also applies to snacks.
9. Double-bag the Deet: Put your bug spray inside TWO durable plastic bags. Once that stuff leaks, it is a nightmare to clean and everything will smell like chemicals. I also recommend storing it on the outside of your pack to to make doubly sure you have no risk of Deet-ing up your sleeping bag.
10. SPF in your lip balm: Fun fact: Your LIPS can get sunburned. Get yourself a lip balm with SPF protection in it. Don’t be like me and be unable to fall asleep in the Sierra because your lips hurt so much. This is the lip balm that I really liked.