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Hiking: Most Popular Articles

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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 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).
A printable packing list for your first...
A concise, printable packing list to help beginner backpackers decide what to carry.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Postholing: How to survive the miserable trap...
It's one of the most frustrating ways possible of spending a hike. That's what postholing is.
Hiking 101: 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.
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.
Go hands free! How to attach snowshoes to your...
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.
2013 Reader's Choice Awards: Finalists for Best...
Essential specs for all five finalists in the
11 fun trail activities for hikers
Hiking is a grand adventure -- your feet can take you to the most amazing places (and amazing views).
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.
What camping gear the TSA will (and won't)...
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.
The four best ice grippers for winter hikes
Of all the ice grippers I've tested over the years, these stand out as the best for hiking.
A great minimalist hiking shoe: The Merrell...
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.
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.
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 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.
Check out these awesome ways hikers can use...
It's no secret -- smartphones have turned into a truly useful tool for navigating, even when cell signal is not available.
Determined to hike alone? Here's how to do it...
Sticking with a group is the safest way to travel -- but if you're determined to go it solo, here's how to cut your risks as much as possible.
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.
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
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.
De-stink on the trail: Action wipes really work!
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 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.
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.
The best ice grippers: Hillsound Trail Crampons...
A head-to-head comparison of two excellent ice grippers: Kahtoola Microspikes and the Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra.
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.
Keep your head, hands and feet warm on a winter...
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Snowshoeing 101 for hikers
Once winter hits, hiking in snowshoes is one of the best ways to get around. Don't worry, it's even easier than it looks.
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.
The solution(s) to cold toes on the trail
Do your toes get cold while you're hiking? Here's how to identify and troubleshoot the most common causes of cold feet and toes.
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.
A ten essentials checklist for hikers
Did you pack the ten essentials? Here's a quick checklist to help you make sure.
Here's what to carry on an overnight hike
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Packing for your
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.
The real meaning of exposure for hikers
Exposure is actually more of a climbing term -- but it has some potentially serious implications for hikers, too.
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.
Pretty much everything you ever wanted to know...
Waterproof hiking gear is pretty much what it sounds like -- but there are a few catches.
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.
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 walk through the ten essentials for outdoor...
A visual slideshow of the ten essentials, plus discussion on what gear actually satisfies each essential need.
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.
From Dayhiker to Backpacker in 3 Easy Steps
Wondering how to make the switch from dayhikes to overnight outings? Here's how to get the right gear, pack it into a stable load, and make your first dry run before you hit the backcountry.
Everything you need to know about snowshoeing
Don't let winter stop you in your tracks! Here's everything you need to know about hiking in snowshoes, from buying your first pair of snowshoes to tips for enjoying more adventurous outings.
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.
Get the list: The top 8 hiking boots
My picks for the best hiking boots, based on hands-on testing and feedback from others.
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
Slackpacking may be cushy, but it's still a hike!
Are you a backpacker or a slackpacker? Here's the difference between the two.
Your picks for the best backpacking stove --...
A look at vital specs on each of the finalists for
Functional women's hiking pants that look good:...
Mountain Hardwear's most popular hiking pant not only offers great fit and function, it even looks good doing it.
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.
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.
Brrrr no more! 17 ways to keep warm on a winter...
A collection of tips for staying warm on winter backpacking trips.
Who knew it'd be this good? The Patagonia down...
An experienced hiker reviews the 850 fill-power Patagonia down jacket -- a lightweight, packable, and overall excellent outer or mid layer for winter hikes.
Why not to wear cotton on a hike
Under the wrong circumstances, wearing cotton can leave you uncomfortable or even hypothermic. Here's why, and what you should wear instead.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How to pack a backpack -- it matters more than...
How to pack a backpack efficiently -- keeping everything you need within easy reach, and organized so that it rides comfortably as you hike.
Have you fallen in deep snow and can't get up?...
Hiking on snowshoes is a great way to log trail time in snowy weather -- but what if you fall? Here's how to avoid floundering around in deep snow.
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.
Printable packing list for a dayhike
A printable packing list for dayhiking in mild weather.
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.
Do you have the right size snowshoes?
Snowshoes aren't quite one size fits all -- here's how to make sure you get the right pair.
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.
6 Tips for Happy Spring Hiking
Spring hikes can provide the best -- and worst -- of both winter and summer. Here's how to pack, plan, and dress so you stay warm and comfortable on the trail.
How to keep the inside of your tent dry
Learn how to keep the inside of your tent dry, even in a rainstorm.
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.
Happy feet: The 6 best sock brands for hikers
Find out which hiking socks are best, after many miles and years of testing.
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.
5 signs you need new hiking boots (aside from...
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.
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
9 rookie hiking mistakes to avoid
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 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.
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.
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.
Gear Review: Deuter ACT Lite 45 + 10 SL
A hiker's review of the Deuter ACT Lite 45 + 10 SL women's backpack -- a supremely comfortable pack at a reasonably light weight.
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.
The best headlamps for hikers
An experienced hiker picks the headlamps that provide the best combination of portability and lighting.
The number one practice that can save your life...
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.
Get the List: 4 of the Best Light Hiking Shoes
My picks for the best light hiking shoes, based on extensive hands-on -- okay, feet-on -- testing.
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.
Boulder hopping 101
Wondering how to work your way through that boulder field? Here's a primer on everything from locomotion to routefinding and risk management.
A great do-it-all value in a shell: The REI...
The REI Motility offers surprisingly good performance -- and even more surprising four-way stretch! -- at a solid value.
Is That You, Yogi? A Gallery of Bear Tracks,...
Click through to see the difference in front and rear prints of a brown bear, left in fresh snow.
Easy fixes for bootlaces that always come untied
Do your hiking boots constantly come untied? Good news -- this is an easy problem to fix.
What to Look for in a Sleeping Bag
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.
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.
Why the balance between waterproof/breathable...
Why the balance between waterproofing and breathability matters so much for hikers.
One hiker's take on the movie Wild
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >The movie Wild
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.
How to stay oriented, even in the fog
Hiking in the fog can be a magical experience -- but it's also a great way to get thoroughly lost or walk right off a cliff. Here's how to keep oriented.
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.
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.
A great midlayer: The 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.
How to Train for a Long, Tough Hike
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.
Where Are You Hiking? Backcountry vs....
What exactly is a backcountry hike? Here's a breakdown of what backcountry, frontcountry and slackcountry mean for hikers.
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!
Meet the insanely good, stretchy (& pricey)...
The Canada Goose Timber is one of the best technical hard shells I've ever tested.
Get Ready for National Trails Day 2015!
This year, National Trails Day is on June 6. NTD is a nationwide opportunity to do a little volunteer work for your favorite public lands, or just get out and play!
Hey hikers! Have you mastered these 11 skills?
At its heart, hiking is a simple sport -- but the best hikers have mastered, or at least dabbled in, a variety of outdoor skills.
Look like a pro next time you go snowshoeing:
At its most basic, hiking in snowshoes is just like going out for a walk -- but there's still room for some fine-tuning.
Terrain traps and why you should care (yes, you!)
Terrain traps may look innocent, but they could be the death of you.
"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.
How to handle those scary wildlife encounters
Learn how to deal with common wild animals you may encounter while hiking in your area.
Best for hiking in aggressive terrain: The La...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >A couple of months
Meet the tent footprint, AKA the groundcloth
Find out what a tent footprint is, why you might -- or might not -- need it, and how to make one.
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.
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.
5 hazards of winter hiking
Hiking in winter takes you into beautiful, untouched landscapes -- but it also exposes you to some unique backcountry hazards.
The 9 best dayhikes near Anchorage, Alaska
Some of Alaska's best dayhikes are right on the fringes of the state's biggest city.
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.
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.
What is Bushwhacking?
Bushwhacking begins with a hiker bent on forging through head-high undergrowth and, almost always, ends in misery.
That thing about losing most of your body heat...
Estimates of how much body heat you lose through your head alone range from 40 percent to 70 percent. And guess what: They're wrong.
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.
Not all hydration packs suck! Check out the...
A hands-on review of the Geigerrig Rig 500 hydration pack and, more importantly, its pressurized water reservoir.
A quick explanation of durable water repellent...
A quick definition of DWR, in the context of hiking and backpacking gear.
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.
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.
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.
Leave No Trace 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.
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.
6 great reasons to try winter hiking
Wondering why you should bother with winter hiking? Here are six great reasons to make tracks in the snow.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So what's a rainfly?
A rainfly is the waterproof layer between your tent and the world.
Here's an awesome hard shell: the Mountain...
Get the lowdown on the Mountain Hardwear Spinoza, a hard shell jacket for climbing and hiking.
Geocaching 101 for hikers
Geocaching is one of many fun activities hikers can enjoy on the trail. Learn everything you need to get started.

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