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Hiking: Most Popular Articles

These articles are the most popular over the last month.
What to pack for your first dayhike
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).
A printable packing list for your first...
A concise, printable packing list to help beginner backpackers decide what to carry.
2013 Reader's Choice Awards: Finalists for Best...
Essential specs for all five finalists in the
How to Hike in the Rain Without Being Miserable
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.
5 Reasons You Should Start Hiking
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.
11 Places to Score Inexpensive Hiking Gear
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.
Your picks for the best daypacks: 2013 Reader's...
Thank you for taking the time to nominate and vote for your favorite daypacks in the 2013 Reader's Choice
Action Wipes Instead of a Shower: How Well Do...
Many hikers and backpackers use baby wipes for quick clean-ups on the trail. But they can be improved upon, and somebody finally has.
How to Attach Hiking Poles to Your Backpack
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. Page 2.
How not to freeze your butt off on winter hikes
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).
5 Top Joshua Tree Hikes
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.
How to make sure your hiking boots fit
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.
How to Pee While Hiking
Basic urine etiquette for both men and women, plus how not to bare your backside to the world when you've gotta go.
11 Fun Activities for Hikers
Hiking is a grand adventure -- your feet can take you to the most amazing places (and amazing views).
What Hiking Gear Can I Take on a Plane?
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.
4 things you should know before your next night...
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.
Are your hiking poles the right length?
Do this quick, simple test anywhere -- in the store or on the trail -- to figure out if your trekking poles are the right size.
New to hiking? Here are your gear essentials.
No matter what kind of hiker you are -- obsessive overpacker or ultralight -- you won't get far without these four essentials.
Your picks for the best backpacking stove --...
A look at vital specs on each of the finalists for
Minimalist Hiking Shoe Review: Merrell Proterra...
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.
Safe Hiking in Mountain Lion Country
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.
How to Dress for Winter Hikes
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.
Can Women Pee in a Bottle While Backpacking?
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.
Thinking of getting lost on a hike? Read this...
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.
Determined to hike alone? Here's how to do it...
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.
How to Go on a Night Hike
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.
What's in your hiking emergency kit? (Here's...
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.
Hiking and menstruation: Totally not a big deal
Yes, you can hike -- and backpack -- while menstruating. Here are the answers to frequently asked questions about handling your period in the great outdoors.
How to Put on Gaiters
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.
Getting Lost While Hiking
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.
Hiking Safety: How to Cross a River
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.
How to Start Hiking
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.
Top 5 Grand Canyon Hikes
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.
What is Postholing?
It's one of the most frustrating ways possible of spending a hike. That's what postholing is.
How to Poop While Hiking
Spend enough time outdoors and, eventually, you'll have to defecate while out on the trail. Here's how to do so politely.
How to Waterproof Your Feet With Plastic Bags
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. Page 3.
Look out for that moose! Moose safety for hikers
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.
How to navigate downhill slopes gracefully
Hiking downhill isn't always the easiest part of a trek. Learn tips for getting down even the steepest of hikes safely.
How to keep the inside of your tent dry
Learn how to keep the inside of your tent dry, even in a rainstorm.
Make hiking uphill look easy... okay, easier
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.
A Glossary of Hiking Boot Features
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.
Hard-shell jackets: What they're good for and...
Get the scoop on what a hard-shell jacket is, when it's preferable to a soft shell, and how hard shells are changing with the times.
Dressing for a Winter Hike: Hat, Gloves, Socks,...
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.
Where to look for hiking buddies
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.
Fall Foliage Hikes in Maine
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.
Pretty much everything you ever wanted to know...
Waterproof hiking gear is pretty much what it sounds like -- but there are a few catches.
What's a Tent Vestibule?
A tent vestibule is a sheltered area just outside the tent door, which may come separately or be integrated into the tent's construction.
Pit zips -- what they are and why they're still...
Although not as common as they once were, you'll still find pit zips on many hard-shell jackets.
Cotton Bad! Here's Why...
Under the wrong circumstances, wearing cotton can leave you uncomfortable or even hypothermic. Here's why, and what you should wear instead.
Minimalist hiking: Only appropriate sometimes...
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.
Explaining what you need for an overnight hike
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Packing for your
The Best Ice Grippers for Hikers
Of all the ice grippers I've tested over the years, these stand out as the best for hiking.
Gear Review: Patagonia's Down Sweater
An experienced hiker reviews the 850 fill-power Patagonia down jacket -- a lightweight, packable, and overall excellent outer or mid layer for winter hikes.
A ten essentials checklist for hikers
Did you pack the ten essentials? Here's a quick checklist to help you make sure.
When waterproof boots are appropriate, and when...
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.
Slackpacking may be cushy, but it's still a hike!
Are you a backpacker or a slackpacker? Here's the difference between the two.
Winter is coming! Here's how to keep warm on...
Hike smarter, not colder! Try these simple tricks for keeping warm on your next cool-weather hike.
How to make sure your hiking jacket fits
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.
What size backpack do you need?
When it comes to choosing a backpack, your hiking style and the length of your planned trip will determine which size you need.
The Ten Essentials for Hikers
Odds are pretty good that you've already heard of the "ten essentials" -- the best-known (and pretty
What is Bushwhacking?
Bushwhacking begins with a hiker bent on forging through head-high undergrowth and, almost always, ends in misery.
Should I buy insoles for hiking? Maybe.
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.
Nifty Things You Can Do With a Bandana
If you forgot your sunblock, use a bandana to protect the back of your neck.
Daily Deal Sites That Feature Hiking Gear
These sites frequently offer hiking gear and gadgets at steeply discounted prices. But watch out -- the best deals go incredibly fast!
Soft-shell jackets: The most breathable...
Wondering what a soft-shell jacket is? I explain the difference between a hard shell and a soft shell, and compare their relative merits.
Brrrr no more! 17 ways to keep warm on a winter...
A collection of tips for staying warm on winter backpacking trips.
Book Review: How to Sh*t in the Woods
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
Get the list: The top 8 hiking boots
My picks for the best hiking boots, based on hands-on testing and feedback from others.
Taboo! 7 things a hiker should never, ever do
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.
Get more use out of your hiking poles with...
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.
10 Tips for Responsible Hiking
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.
Printable packing list for a dayhike
A printable packing list for dayhiking in mild weather.
How to handle exposed terrain on a hike
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.
5 reasons you should wear merino wool
If you can't wear cotton for a hike, what should you wear? Either wool or synthetics; here's how they measure up.
Is That You, Yogi? A Gallery of Bear Tracks,...
While we humans sometimes post signs warning about bear activity, the bears themselves leave plenty of clues that they're around.
Gear Review: The Craghoppers Jenica Stretch...
An experienced hiker reviews the Jenica Stretch jacket, from the UK-based company Craghoppers.
What Does Exposure Mean for Hikers?
Exposure is actually more of a climbing term -- but it has some potentially serious implications for hikers, too.
Gear Review: Mountain Hardwear Yuma Hiking Pants
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.
Clean water at the push of a button: The...
A full review after hands-on testing of the CamelBak All Clear, which finished a strong second in the 2013 Reader's Choice Awards.
Lightning Safety for Hikers
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.
How to prevent tick bites when you're out in...
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.
Bear Safety for Hikers
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.
Gear Review: SmartWool PhD HyFi Hoody
Despite an initial problem with one of the zippers, the SmartWool PhD HyFi full-zip hoody is now my favorite mid layer.
Hiking Apps for Wilderness Survival
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.
Weatherproofing: Real protection against the...
The best outer layers you can wear for hiking are weatherproof -- but what, exactly, does that mean? -- find out here.
What is a Tent Footprint?
Find out what a tent footprint is, why you might -- or might not -- need it, and how to make one.
2013 About Hiking Readers' Choice Awards
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!
Your picks for the best backpacking packs:...
A compilation of vital specs for all five finalists in the 2013 Reader's Choice Awards category for
The Best Books for Hikers
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.
Quick Review: Lock Laces for Hiking Shoes
Lock Laces may not be marketed directly toward hikers, but they're a great addition to light hiking footwear.
Happy feet: Top picks for hiking socks
There are zillions of hiking socks out there -- I'm reviewing them all, one pair at a time.
Help! My toes get cold when I'm hiking. How can...
Do your toes get cold while you're hiking? These tips will help you keep them warm.
Don't get swept away! Flash flood safety for...
Flash floods are fast and dangerous, and they can happen anywhere, at any time -- although they're most common in dry lands that are quickly inundated by water.
6 Reasons to Try Winter Hiking
Wondering why you should bother with winter hiking? Here are six great reasons to make tracks in the snow.
Trailguru and MapMyHIKE: Two Easy-to-Use Hiking...
It's a great idea to maintain a hiking log and now smartphone apps make it simple to keep track of treks and trails.
How to Attach Snowshoes To Your Backpack
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.
5 Signs You Need New Hiking Boots
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.
What's a Social Trail?
A social trail is the unplanned result of constant foot traffic. Learn more about the concept here.
How to Find Hiking Pants That Fit
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.
Hiking Boot Review: The La Sportiva Boulder X Mid
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >A couple of months
3 Rules for Packing Your Backpack
How to pack a backpack efficiently -- keeping everything you need within easy reach, and organized so that it rides comfortably as you hike.
Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra vs. Kahtoola...
A head-to-head comparison of two excellent ice grippers: Kahtoola Microspikes and the Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra.
A review of the Osprey Exos 38 "SuperLight" pack
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >The 2 lb., 5 oz.
A hiker's guide to answering nature's call
Wondering how to handle bodily functions in the outdoors? Here's a guide to both the how and the why.
How to Take Someone Else Hiking for the First...
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.
3 Questions to Ask About Everything in Your Pack
Tired of hauling a heavy pack on all your hikes? Use these three questions to lighten your load.
Endomondo For Hikers
Simple and easy-to-use, Endomondo is a helpful and versatile app for hikers.
Garbage bags can save your life in a hiking...
Six ways garbage bags can save your life, or at least make you more comfortable, during a hiking emergency.
"The Fenis" Urine Director for Hiking
The Fenis is one of many urine directors, or devices that let women urinate standing up. Here's a candid review of how well the Fenis works for hikers.
5 Ways to Tweak Your Hiking Boots
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.
How to File a Hiking Trip Plan
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.
Thru-hiking 101
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.
Hiking Boots vs. Approach Boots
An experienced hiker and former climber discusses the difference between regular hiking footwear and approach footwear for climbers.
Glasses or Contacts?
I started hiking with contacts, but eventually switched to glasses -- here's why.
Safe Hiking in Hot Weather
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.
Tips for Planning a Romantic Valentine's Day Hike
Have you done a Valentine's Day picnic and feel ready for the next step? Welcome to Romantic Hiking (with food) 101.
Rocking Diabetes in the Backcountry
A diabetes diagnosis doesn't have to keep you from enjoying your favorite backcountry activities. Professional snowboarder Sean Busby, who just happens to have Type 1 diabetes, shares his tips for hiking with diabetes.
5 Great Grand Teton Hikes
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.
So what's a rainfly?
A rainfly is the waterproof layer between your tent and the world.
Mount Huashan: The Most Dangerous Hike in the...
I agree that part of the trail up Mt. Huashan may be the most dangerous stretch of hiking in the whole world -- but did you know there's a cable car to the top, too?
Hiking at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
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.
Vapur Element Collapsible Water "Bottle"
Like its water-bladder brethren, the BPA-free Vapur Element is the epitome of convenience. It flattens
Your picks for the best water filters: 2013...
A look at critical specs for the five finalists for a 2013 Reader's Choice Award for best water filter/purifier.
5 Essential Safety Tips for Hikers
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 primer on water purification methods
Water filters and purifiers accomplish the same purpose by different means. Here's an explanation of the differences between the two.
DWR
A quick definition of DWR, in the context of hiking and backpacking gear.
That's All, Folks! Day 4 of the Outdoor...
It's the last day of Outdoor Retailer's 2014 Summer Market! Check out the most eye-catching gear (and snacks).
Gear Review: Arch Flex Insoles
A candid review of Arch Flex insoles from a hiker who, as a general rule, doesn't like insoles very much.
6 Effects Hiking Can Have on Your Physical and...
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 Zip-Up Gaiter? Is It Worth It?
A review of the first zip-up gaiter I've ever encountered: The Hillsound Super Armadillo Nano Gaiter.
9 Rookie Hiking Mistakes
A collection of the most common mistakes made by hiking rookies -- and some experienced hikers, too.
All About Hiking Boots and Shoes
How can I tell if my boots fit? Should they be waterproof? When do I need to replace them? Find the answer to these and other common questions about hiking footwear.
How to still be friends at the end of a long hike
Even your best friend's temper can fray if she's tired, footsore, and a long way from home. Here's how to maintain hiking friendships, even in challenging situations.
Help! My Hiking Boots Keep Coming Untied!
Do your hiking boots constantly come untied? Good news -- this is an easy problem to fix.
Scrambling for hikers: How not to go rock...
Scrambling is usually a rock climber's territory -- but every so often hikers may find themselves scrambling, too. And that means handling a few concerns that climbers usually don't have to worry about.
How to handle even the gnarliest hiking terrain
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.
Some Leave No Trace tips for hikers
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.
5 Hazards of Winter Hiking
Hiking in winter takes you into beautiful, untouched landscapes -- but it also exposes you to some backcountry hazards. Learn which hazards of winter hiking you should watch out for, and how to prepare to manage them.
You Asked: Which Is the Best Urine Director?
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.
The Best Headlamps for Hikers
An experienced hiker picks the headlamps that provide the best combination of portability and lighting.
Gear Review: U-Dig-It Folding Hand Shovel
Meant for digging cat (toilet) holes in the backcountry, the compact, fold-up U-Dig-It comes in handy for other purposes as well.
Which is Best? Water Filters vs. Water Purifiers
My breakdown of which type of water filter -- or purifier -- I'd choose in which circumstances.
How to Pack for Hiking Travel
So you know how to pack for a hike -- but what about when getting to the trailhead involves travel by plane (or train, or automobile)?
Which backpacking shelter best suits you?
The pros and cons of the most common types of backpacking shelters, including bivy sacks, camp hammocks, tarps and tents.
How to Get in Shape for Hiking
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!
How to Pick the Best Campsite
Choosing a good campsite is mostly common sense, but you need to watch out for these safety and comfort factors too.
Studded Boots for Hikers: Icebug's SPEED-L...
An experienced hiker provides a thorough, candid review of the insulated, studded Icebug SPEED-L BUGrip boots.
Waterproof Breathable
A quick explanation of what it means when outdoor gear is both waterproof and breathable.
Make sure you know your footprint from your...
Do you know a fly from a footprint? Before you pitch your tent for the first time, brush up on each of the parts and their functions.
Zion National Park's Top 5 Hikes
Head out on Zion National Park's top 5 hikes. Take these trails and you'll experience Zion hiking at its very best.
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