Setting yourself up to go the extra mile creates possibilities. Knock off a longer trip in less time. Arrive at the campsite with more energy. Find more time for casting a line, soaking in the view, bagging a peak or roasting s’mores. It's not hard—there are plenty of things you can do to move one foot in front of the other faster—and hike farther.
Go with Fewer People
The bigger your group, the slower you’ll go. Each person adds about eight minutes per hour. So if you and a buddy figure it will take four hours to do a hike, add 30 minutes for every person you invite.
Wear a Lighter Shoe
We take about 1,250 steps per kilometre. No wonder a pound on the foot is equal to about five on the back. When buying a new pair of hiking shoes, fit and protection come first and second, but weight is bronze. For most hiking situations, the Salomon Outline Mid GTX ($180; salomon.com) sweeps the podium. Salomon is famously friendly to many foot shapes. The mid-height supports the ankle enough for backpacking and the Gore-Tex liner keeps feet dry. For all that, these kicks are impressively light, just 415 grams—less than many running shoes—and as comfortable as sneakers.
Learn to Hike Faster
No one runs a faster race just by saying they want to. Same goes for hiking. If you want to hike faster, you must train. On walks around town, increase your cadence. Start with intervals of a minute or two of fast walking with a minute or two at a normal pace. Move on to sustained speed for the whole walk.
Lighten Your Load
Gear up with lightweight equipment, including the Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo (from $200; sixmoondesigns.com) and Therm-a-rest NeoAir Uberlite (from $TKT; thermarest.com). Hiking poles prop the Lunar Duo tent to 114 centimetres high and 137 centimetres wide, which is roomier than most two-person tents. Yet, it weighs about 1.25 kilograms and is legitimately stormproof. Therm-a-Rest Uberlite is one of the lightest air mattresses around. Blow it up and it still provides enough comfort for just about any princess, with six centimetres of insulated cushioning.
Wear Breathable Clothing
Unless it’s currently raining, keep the waterproof clothing in the pack and wear something like Helly Hansen’s Vana Windbreaker Jacket ($65; hellyhansen.com). The wind shell shields from howlers and beads light rain. At only 140 grams, its weight goes unnoticed and it releases body heat beautifully.
Take Fewer Breaks
Try to only stop once per hour; set an alarm if needed. At each break, have a snack and water. And be bold: start cold. Before hiking, check your layering so you won’t have to peel one off in five minutes.
Use Hiking Poles
Here are four good reasons to give trekking poles a try: they reduce compressive force on the knee by 25 per cent, decrease muscle damage over a day of hiking and increase calories burned by recruiting more muscles. LEKI Micro Black CLD ($249.49; leki.com) are the most user-friendly poles we’ve tried. They assemble in one firm pull, collapse just as easily, are very light and the length adjusts on the fly.
Don’t Fear the Dark
It’s always a good idea to bring a headlamp. Usually for “just in case” but also for starting early or finishing late. In any case, the BioLite HeadLamp 330 ($60; bioliteenergy.com) is ideal because it integrates the trail-flooding light into the elastic headband, reducing bouncing of the beam.
Use Better Insoles
Stock footbeds are usually thin and unsupportive. Replace them with Superfeet’s Trailblazer Comfort ($60; superfeet.com). A three-dimensional shape supports the foot to reduce fatigue and locks it in place to reduce foot movement. It’s also cushioned to disperse impact and wicking to prevent blisters.
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