Tips and Tricks

Last updated: January 26th 2012
These tips and tricks are not original but are simple, not necessarily obvious methods I have found useful to make backpacking easier and more enjoyable. Many websites have lists of tricks that people have contributed. Check them out too!

Use a StickPic to secure your camera to the end of your trekking pole. This makes it easier to take pictures and videos of yourself when you happen to be solo. Website

A Gorillapod will secure to branches or other sizable protuberances and allow for a tripod mount in unconventional circumstances.

With shepherd crook tent stakes, use a marlin spike hitch to attach your guy lines to the stake. It's super easy and will not slip.

If you like to keep your guy lines attached to your shelter for storage, run the line in a figure eight around two fingers. Wrap the end around the middle a few times and finish it off with half hitches. That will create a neat bundle.

To tie up a long line, such as a bear line, use the figure eight method or try out a chain knot. See how to tie a chain knot here.

To tie a tight line from tree to tree, for a laundry line or anything else, use a taut line hitch for simplicity and ease of adjustability.

Carry a small pad for sitting . In cold, wet, weather, this can be a butt saver. It doubles as a place to put your pack while you're setting up and striking camp. And then for hammock camping, it triples as a foot pad. Not bad for 0.75 ounces.

Place a very small and minimal red LED light on the outside of your shelter. If you leave your shelter at night, turn the light on so that you can find your way back. Another method is to tie a piece of highly reflective material to your shelter or use reflective guy lines.

Replace heavy carabiners with soft shackles that are exceedingly strong and light. (Do NOT use these for climbing.) One soft shackle I made has a weight of 5 grams and a breaking strength of almost 2400 lbs. Find two different methods to create soft shackles easily at your home here and here. If you want to tie a prussik knot with your shackle, try this method: here. Prowl around the forums and see what you can find. There are many variants and small improvements out there.

To clean your pot, use potable water to rinse it out. Scrape it down with your eating utensil. Drink what's left.

Camel up at the watering hole. Drink as much water as you're comfortable drinking and then fill up your water container of choice. This lets you go farther between refills (or carry less weight in your pack).

Where bear canisters are not required, try using the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) method to hang the bear bag. I like to use Zing-It made by Samson for my bear line, a very lightweight carabiner, and a lightweight stuff sack to complete the PCT method supplies.

A cheap and sturdy way to keep your bedding and clothing dry is to get a compactor trash bag and line your pack with it. Roll the top closed to keep water out. Any trash bag will work but the compactor trash bags are thick and strong. They are also sized correctly for most backpacks.

To prevent your shoes from becoming untied add a second turn on each stage of the bow knot. That increases the contact surface area and thereby the friction and holding power. Look up surgeon's knot to see a visual. No double knot needed.