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Five helpful tips for hiking

As any mountaineer will tell you, there’s nothing like the feeling of accomplishment that comes after overcoming high altitudes and physical fatigue to stand, undefeated at the top of a mountain peak. It’s empowering. And the view’s pretty spectacular too.

Any mountaineer will also tell you that hiking at high altitudes brings its own set of unique challenges and obstacles to overcome including adverse weather conditions. That’s why we look for any tips, tricks and gadgets that might make the hike more achievable. Here are some high altitude hiking hacks that can help lighten the load when it comes to climbing mountains.

1. Duct Tape fixes all

Duct Tape is a surprisingly useful resource to take on any hike and you can easily wrap it around lighters or water bottles to save space in you hiking pack.

Use it to deal with blisters (its just as effective as specialist blister tape) and bandage cuts, to mend broken boots, bags and torn clothing, to keep food bags or bags containing electricals sealed, or insulate pan handles to keep you from burning your hands when cooking. You can even twist it into a long piece of rope to use as a clothes line or as a substitute for snapped hiking boot laces.

2. A spoon will do the job

Any form of hiking requires you to pack light, but when hiking at high altitudes its especially important. Your body has a lot to deal with in often hostile mountain conditions, so its essential to avoid any unnecessary weight in your pack.

Quick tip: You don’t need a knife and a fork to eat your meal. A spoon will do the job. Save on weight and skip the assortment of cutlery.

3. Want to journal your climb?

Many mountaineers like to journal their climb.  There’s nothing like taking a moment to sit down during a good hike, breathe in the landscape and write your thoughts down in a journal. It’s a great way to record reflections, memories and observations that just can’t be captured on camera.

But have you ever tried to write with a ball-point pen at high altitude on soggy paper? The inevitable unpredictability of mountain weather, along with the high altitudes can make journaling a mountain climb tricky. Take a weatherproof notebook that’s designed with hikers in mind, and use a pen that can handle all weather conditions (like the Fisher Space Pen) or a pencil.

4. Pack High Altitude Friendly Snacks

High altitudes and a cold atmosphere can do strange things to our bodies. They start working overtime to increase our core temperature and our heart rate rises in response to low oxygen levels as our body scrambles to get oxygen to the muscles.  Performing at high altitude expends a lot of energy so its important to keep restocking your body with snacks.

Any food you pack needs to be super efficient at providing your body with energy in high altitudes. Look for high-carb, low-fat food. You’ll need around 60-100 grams of carbs per hour as your body burns through carbs rapidly to get energy and retain heat. It’s always wise to have some high-carb bars or chews that are easily accessible in your pocket. Snacks like nuts and dried cherries are ideal too.

5. Wear a neck scarf

The lack of oxygen at high altitudes accompanied by strenuous physical activity increases your breathing rate. Rapid breathing to take in more oxygen leads to loss of moisture through the mouth and an increased risk of dehydration. In cold air, it also means your body’s working overtime to heat the air and add humidity before it reaches your lungs. You can ease the process of warming the air for your lungs by covering your mouth with a neck scarf. It’ll keep you warmer and help you expend less energy.

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