Hiking: Most Popular Articles
These are the essentials you should always have in your pack, even on short day hikes (and the start of a packing list for long hikes or overnight trips).
Thank you for taking the time to nominate and vote for your favorite daypacks in the 2013 Reader's Choice
Do this quick, simple test anywhere -- in the store or on the trail -- to figure out if your trekking poles are the right size.
Congratulations -- if your commute to the trailhead involves a plane, you're officially hardcore. Here's how not to lose your hiking gear to airport security.
A concise, printable packing list to help beginner backpackers decide what to carry.
It's easy, stimulating, and good for you too: Hiking is a sport with all sorts of benefits for both body and mind. Inspire yourself to make it a part of your fitness routine with these five reasons you should go hiking.
Hiking poles sure come in handy -- until you don't need them anymore, at which point they become a big nuisance. Here's how to attach them to your backpack so you can go back to hiking hands-free.
Quality hiking gear can cost an arm and a leg, but it doesn't have to. Here are some of the best places (in-person and online) to check for cheap gear year-round.
Essential specs for all five finalists in the
Here's a look at five top Grand Canyon hikes on the South Rim. The day hikes range from easy routes along the South Rim to more challenging outings that give you a chance to see the world of the canyon's depths.
It's a great idea to maintain a hiking log and now smartphone apps make it simple to keep track of treks and trails.
A look at vital specs on each of the finalists for
Many hikers and backpackers use baby wipes for quick clean-ups on the trail. But they can be improved upon, and somebody finally has.
Hiking is a grand adventure -- your feet can take you to the most amazing places (and amazing views).
No matter what kind of hiker you are -- obsessive overpacker or ultralight -- you won't get far without these four essentials.
Hiking in the rain doesn't have to be a miserable experience. The key is to dress properly, pack properly, and bring the right comfort items.
Yes, you can hike -- and backpack -- while menstruating. Here are the answers to frequently asked questions about handling your period in the great outdoors.
Summer means hiking in hot weather. With a bit of planning, you can still hike safely. But you definitely should pay attention to conditions and take precautions to avoid such dangerous ailments as heat stroke and dehydration.
Lightning is the third-leading cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S. Because safe shelter can be hard to find during a storm, hikers need to understand lightning safety guidelines.
Basic urine etiquette for both men and women, plus how not to bare your backside to the world when you've gotta go.
The very best hiking boots or shoes are the ones that fit you perfectly. No need to wait for Prince (or Princess) Charming to show up with a glass slipper -- I'll show you how to test your hiking shoes and boots for the right fit, right now.
Hiking at night makes even the most familiar of trails exciting and new again. It's also a chance to see (or at least hear) new animals. If you live near well-traveled trails, night hikes may be one of your best chances to enjoy your favorite hike without a crowd. We've already covered the basic principles of night hiking, but there's still time for a few final tips before you hit the trail.
Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park explore a landscape of desert forests and surreal rock formations. Joshua Tree hikes also lead to hidden palm oases and to areas filled with spring wildflowers.
An avid hiker gives a frank review of the minimalist Merrell Proterra Vim Sport -- the women's entry in this line of lightweight hiking shoes.
Peeing in a bottle might come naturally to guys, but don't worry -- women can do it too. Here's how to handle going number one when you don't want to -- or can't -- crawl out of the tent.
A night hike lets you experience familiar trails in a whole different way and engages more of your senses. Here some basic tips for how to go on a night hike.
Do you have what you need to survive if a hike goes wrong? Here's a look at what I carry in my emergency kit, and why.
Spend enough time outdoors and, eventually, you'll have to defecate while out on the trail. Here's how to do so politely.
Sticking with a group is the safest way to travel, and I definitely don't advocate hiking alone. But I'm as guilty of breaking my own rules as anyone who's ever given the same advice. So if you're determined to go it solo, here's how to cut your risks as much as possible.
Mountain lion attacks on humans are quite rare. But the big cats do live in or near many popular hiking areas, so follow these safety tips when you're hiking in mountain lion country.
Fond of hiking, but your friends aren't? Or maybe they're just all too busy to hit the trail. Here are some great places to find new hiking buddies.
Moose are beautiful in a gangly sort of way, but they're also notoriously irritable and weigh more than half a ton. Here's how to avoid moose conflict in the first place, and what to do if a moose charges you.
Hit the trail with these tips on how to start hiking. You'll find advice about hiking equipment and clothing, where to find trails, and how to build up your skills.
If you like getting outside in the winter, a warm sweater will only get you so far. The real trick is learning to combine that sweater with other layers of clothing to keep you warm and comfortable as you hike, no matter how fast or slow you're going (or how long a rest you decide to take).
Knowing how to cross a river is an essential hiking skill. Preparation is key and so too is the ability to assess stream flow and determine a course of action.
No doubt about it, hiking uphill is a challenge -- but it's one that you can meet, and even enjoy, by using these simple tips.
Hiking downhill isn't always the easiest part of a trek. Learn tips for getting down even the steepest of hikes safely.
Did you pack the ten essentials? Here's a quick checklist to help you make sure.
Head out on Zion National Park's top 5 hikes. Take these trails and you'll experience Zion hiking at its very best.
With mountain lakes, hidden canyons, and beautiful views of towering peaks, Grand Teton hikes let you explore the best of one of the country's most impressive national parks.
A compilation of vital specs for all five finalists in the 2013 Reader's Choice Awards category for
It's one of the most frustrating ways possible of spending a hike. That's what postholing is.
Exposure is actually more of a climbing term -- but it has some potentially serious implications for hikers, too.
Wondering if hiking poles are worth the effort? Here's how to decide, along with examples of when they're most likely to come in handy.
Odds are pretty good that you've already heard of the "ten essentials" -- the best-known (and pretty
Getting lost on a hike is scary, but preventable. Here's what you can do beforehand to prepare for the possibility, and how to handle it once you realize you're lost.
You voted for your favorite hiking gear in the 2013 Reader's Choice Awards and the results are in! Get them while they're hot, and stay tuned for the next round of voting in 2014!
If you forgot your sunblock, use a bandana to protect the back of your neck.
Despite the headlines, bear attacks are rare. But before hiking in black bear or grizzly habitat, you should learn basic bear safety tips that will help minimize the danger.
There are zillions of hiking socks out there -- I'm reviewing them all, one pair at a time.
Minimalist hiking may be a trend now, but it was once as simple as traipsing around in water shoes. Here are the nuts and bolts of hitting the trail in barely-there footwear, plus where to look for minimalist shoes.
There's no reason to stop hiking in winter. You may not go out on the coldest afternoons but by knowing how to dress for winter hikes, you can take advantage of more moderate days no matter where you live in the country.
I poop, you poop, we all poop -- and eventually you're going to have to do it outdoors. How to Sh*t in the Woods, by Kathleen Meyer, is part
Wondering if your trail etiquette is up to snuff? As long as you're not doing any of these six things, you're just fine.
A tent vestibule is a sheltered area just outside the tent door, which may come separately or be integrated into the tent's construction.
Hiking in gaiters keeps snow and mud from creeping up your pants or down into your boots -- but how do you put them on? Find out which way is up and where to put all those buckles.
Are you a backpacker or a slackpacker? Here's the difference between the two.
From the perfect hiking tales to enjoy on rainy days, to the single book you've allowed yourself during a backpacking trip, to how-to books that'll teach you basic (or advanced) tactics on the trail, here's my list of the best hiking-related books.
Basic safety measures can help prevent hikers from getting lost on the trail. But knowing what to do if you get lost will reduce your chances of making mistakes that worsen the situation.
If having waterproof hiking boots really an advantage? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Here's how to decide whether you should buy waterproof footwear or not.
Wondering what a soft-shell jacket is? I explain the difference between a hard shell and a soft shell, and compare their relative merits.
Learn how to be a low-impact hiker with these 10 tips for hiking responsibly. Simple steps will reduce your impacts and help protect the environment and the trail experience for your fellow hikers.
These sites frequently offer hiking gear and gadgets at steeply discounted prices. But watch out -- the best deals go incredibly fast!
There's nothing worse than trying to take a big step on the trail and hearing your pants rip -- or even just feeling them hinder your movement. Here's how to make sure that won't happen.
No waterproof boots? No problem. If you're faced with a stretch of mud or water to wade through, you can always use plastic bags to waterproof your feet instead.
When it comes to choosing a backpack, your hiking style and the length of your planned trip will determine which size you need.
If you're reading this in the wilderness, faced with an emergency, you're screwed. But if you're researching wilderness survival skills BEFORE you hit the trail, good for you! Here's a list of hiking apps that contain useful information about outdoor survival techniques. Both iOS and Android.
Under the wrong circumstances, wearing cotton can leave you uncomfortable or even hypothermic. Here's why, and what you should wear instead.
A full review after hands-on testing of the CamelBak All Clear, which finished a strong second in the 2013 Reader's Choice Awards.
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Some of the most spectacular hiking trails have exposed sections, where the consequences of a fall can be severe. Handling such terrain isn't just a physical challenge -- it's a mental challenge too.
Meant for digging cat (toilet) holes in the backcountry, the compact, fold-up U-Dig-It comes in handy for other purposes as well.
Are you wondering what a hard-shell jacket is, or about the difference between hard- and soft-shell jackets? Here's an explanation, plus the pros and cons of choosing a hard shell.
Six ways garbage bags can save your life, or at least make you more comfortable, during a hiking emergency.
It's best to hike in groups -- but what if you don't have a group to hike with (or if you're trying to convince a friend to join your group)? Here are the nuts and bolts of how to take a friend hiking for the first time, and leave him or her enthusiastic about doing it again.
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Hiking means spending a lot of time at, or driving to and from, remote trailheads. Learn about the five common repairs you should be able to do on your car... just in case.
Waterproof hiking gear is pretty much what it sounds like -- but there are a few catches.
Do your toes get cold while you're hiking? These tips will help you keep them warm.
I'm picky about my hiking pants, so it took a lot for Mountain Hardwear's Yuma pants to win my love. Check out what I like about them, and the few counts on which I think they could be improved.
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve may be the single most beautiful spot along the entire 1,100-mile California coast. An extensive hiking trail network leads through its forests and along a rocky shoreline that's home to sea otters, harbor seals, and sea lions.
For women who want to urinate standing up, in closed quarters, or without having to drop their pants, urine directors -- a.k.a. pee funnels -- are the way to go.
From help in emergencies to apps that track hiking activity, smartphones are versatile tools for the trail. Here's a quick look at few uses for your phone, as well as some safety tips to keep in mind.
With a population of just under 300,000, Anchorage, Alaska contains nearly half the state's entire population.
Scree -- also known as talus -- is practically purpose-engineered to make your hike difficult. Use these tips to cross scree fields safely.
Winter hiking gives you a peek into a world of starry night skies, glistening new snow, fairytale ice formations -- and cold temperatures. Layering on the clothing is just one part of the puzzle; you also need to keep your head, hands, and feet warm.
You're always told to file a trip plan -- but what exactly does that mean? Here's a guide to what information you should leave with a trusted contact person, just in case.
Wondering how to handle bodily functions in the outdoors? Here's a guide to both the how and the why.
At its heart, hiking is a simple sport -- but the best hikers have mastered, or at least dabbled in, a variety of outdoor skills.
A rainfly is the waterproof layer between your tent and the world.
Find out what a tent footprint is, why you might -- or might not -- need it, and how to make one.
After buying a new pair of boots, the first think many hikers do is buy insoles too. Aftermarket insoles will help correct a few fit problems, but they're not for everybody.
Hiking is more than just a stroll in the woods! Here are six healthy benefits you can expect when you spend regular time on the trail.
A printable packing list for dayhiking in mild weather.
Aside from practical considerations like wildlife safety or handling emergencies, hiking as part of a group is just plain fun. But even your best friend's temper can fray if she's tired, footsore, and a long way from home. Here are some suggestions to help you all get along on the hiking trail.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park offers some of the world's most unique hiking. Trails lead through rugged lava flows, past active craters, and into lush Hawaiian forests.
Bushwhacking begins with a hiker bent on forging through head-high undergrowth and, almost always, ends in misery.
Lock Laces may not be marketed directly toward hikers, but they're a great addition to light hiking footwear.
The best outer layers you can wear for hiking are weatherproof -- but what, exactly, does that mean? -- find out here.
You have dozens of types of outerwear to choose from, and most of them cost a pretty penny. Here's how to try on hiking jackets, and make sure the one you buy fits both you and your needs.
Tired of sucking on hydration hoses? Me too -- so when I found the Geigerrig Rig 500 pressurized hydration pack, I had to give it a try.
A look at critical specs for the five finalists for a 2013 Reader's Choice Award for best water filter/purifier.
A candid review of Arch Flex insoles from a hiker who, as a general rule, doesn't like insoles very much.
Ticks pack a major ick factor -- but there's a lot you can do to avoid them. Find out how, along with what to do if you discover a tick that's latched onto you.
Problem laces? Not enough cushioning in the soles? Here's a collection of methods for tweaking your hiking boots to solve these and other common problems.
Most heavy-duty hiking boots are built to last -- but lighter footwear and cheaper boots can wear out more quickly. Here are some of the more subtle signs that it's time to buy new boots.
My picks for the best hiking boots, based on hands-on testing and feedback from others.
Do you want to be a through-hiker? Here's what that means, and a list of some of the best places to do it in the United States.
Have you done a Valentine's Day picnic and feel ready for the next step? Welcome to Romantic Hiking (with food) 101.
Learn how to deal with common wild animals you may encounter while hiking in your area.
My picks for the best light hiking shoes, based on extensive hands-on -- okay, feet-on -- testing.
Although marketed as an approach shoe for climbers, the La Sportiva Boulder X is also a great choice for hikers.
Wondering when the bad weather is likely to break, or how quickly that storm is coming on? No forecast is perfect, but real-time access to NOAA's weather stations and radar/satellite readouts is about as good as it gets.
Buying a sleeping bag is pretty straightforward, but there are a few important decisions you have to make along the way -- here's a guide to all of them in one place.
Hike smarter, not colder! Try these simple tricks for keeping warm on your next cool-weather hike.
Hypothermia can happen during any time of year. Here's a recap of how to avoid it, plus a link to basic symptoms and treatment.
With its vast open spaces and forests, Maine is one of the country's prime destinations for fall color hikes. Here's a look leading destinations for autumn foliage hikes in Maine.
While we humans sometimes post signs warning about bear activity, the bears themselves leave plenty of clues that they're around.
A collection of the deadliest -- and most avoidable -- mistakes you can make on a hike.
Although not as common as they once were, you'll still find pit zips on many hard-shell jackets.
Water filters and purifiers accomplish the same purpose by different means. Here's an explanation of the differences between the two.
How to pack a backpack efficiently -- keeping everything you need within easy reach, and organized so that it rides comfortably as you hike.
The Scarpa Kailash GTX isn't built for extra-wide feet like mine, but I couldn't pass up the chance to at least take a closer look at them.
Wondering how to work your way through that boulder field? Here's a primer on everything from locomotion to routefinding and risk management.
The best way to train for hiking is to actually do it -- starting with short hikes you can handle and gradually working your way up to tougher trails. Here's how to put together your own training hikes.
Simple and easy-to-use, Endomondo is a helpful and versatile app for hikers.
Like its water-bladder brethren, the BPA-free Vapur Element is the epitome of convenience. It flattens
If you're prepared, you don't have to stress -- you can just enjoy your hike. Use these tips to be proactive about safety on the trail.
A collection of the most common mistakes made by hiking rookies -- and some experienced hikers, too.
A candid, thorough review of the Asolo Stynger GTX hiking boot for women.
An experienced hiker picks the headlamps that provide the best combination of portability and lighting.
If you can't wear cotton for a hike, what should you wear? Either wool or synthetics; here's how they measure up.
North of Santa Barbara, a wild section of the California coast offers beach hikes that explore towering dunes and long, isolated shoreline areas.
A collection of tips for staying warm on winter backpacking trips.
Snowshoes are great when the powder's deep -- but how are you supposed to carry them once you hit hard-packed ground? Find out here.
I usually hike to get away from technology, but some of these smartphone apps make great educational tools and field references to help you understand what you're seeing on the trail.
Screeing is a dangerous -- but fun -- way of descending a scree slope. Find out why it might not be worth the thrill.
Varied terrain -- and distance from home -- are two of the biggest characteristics that separate hiking from walking. Learn how to navigate the irregular terrain you're likely to encounter on the trail.
An experienced hiker reviews the 850 fill-power Patagonia down jacket -- a lightweight, packable, and overall excellent outer or mid layer for winter hikes.
You won't get far on the trail if your pants are too tight or your boots don't fit your feet (I've done both -- it was miserable). Here's how to make sure your essential pieces of gear fit you and do their jobs well.
One reader wants to know: Can I camp at my favorite hiking trailhead? Get the answer here from About.com's Guide to Hiking.
A quick definition of DWR, in the context of hiking and backpacking gear.
Dayhiking doesn't have anything to do with when you go hiking -- it's all about how long the hike takes. Learn what this common term means, why dayhikes are worth doing, and how to prepare.
If you pack a lot of technology on the trail, the Mophie Powerstation PRO acts as an effective, compact on-the-go charger.
Don't get lost on your next hike! Use these six tricks to stay aware of your surroundings and lost-proof yourself.
The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics focuses on seven core principles -- these tips show how you can use those principles for hiking responsibly.
Are you shell-shocked by the variety of features you have to choose between when you shop for hiking boots? No problem -- this glossary tells you what you need to know about every major part of the boot.
Hiking is great exercise in its own right -- but if you want to get ready for a tough hike, some cross-training may be in order!
Hiking with a dog is a great chance to give your dog exercise and keep him or her stimulated. Simple precautions and planning will ensure that both you and your dog are safe on the trail.
It's the fine details that separate the many collapsible water bottles (aka water bladders) you can use while hiking. Here's a quick rundown of the pros and cons for several types, plus links to full reviews.