Make Hiking Rugged Again

Leave your hydration monitor, bluetooth speaker, and autonomous drone at home. On the trail, you’ll only need your brawn, smarts, and a smattering of old-school gear for this sort of hiking trip.

Make Hiking Rugged Again
Photo credit: Julentto Photography

Editor’s note: Our contributor wanted to sound off on the state of the outdoors. But don’t take him too seriously. He’s only kidding (we think).

Hiking trails these days are overcrowded, sissified dirt highways of giant-backpack-wearing, ill-prepared softies. Did the great explorers of pioneer days need zinc on their nose, gobs of pesticides on their bodies, and hand sanitizer for their soft, unworked palms?

No, friends, they surely did not. It’s time to get back to the basics of the outdoors experience of yesteryear.

Pest Control

Bug spray with tons of DEET? Why in the heck would you need that? Ya know what scares skeeters away? Flexing your muscles, that’s what.

Also: basil, lavender, lemongrass, and mint can be used as a natural repellent. Hang them from your pack. Or boil leaves, let them steep for a few hours, remove the leaves, mix the liquid with a few ounces of cheap vodka, and slather up.

No need for sunscreen either. That dust on the bark of aspen trees is a natural sun block.

Afraid of bears? Don’t be. Just sing and announce yourself. Hiking trails need more people belting out Whitney Houston classics anyways. “IIIIII wanna dance with somebody…” Of course, in high-risk places, a can of bear spray is cheap insurance.

Clothes ‘N Stuff

Make Hiking Rugged Again
Photo credit: Oddman47

Definitely spend three-month’s salary on the latest, greatest, most techy tee shirts, zip off pants that double as an emergency shelter, and boots that are Bluetooth-capable and come equipped with a solar battery walk mode assist. I mean, if you can’t take conference calls while on uphill auto-pilot what’s the flippin’ point, right?

OK, kidding. Wicking outerwear is awesome, no doubt, but so is a funny tee shirt and a pair of jorts…yes, jean shorts. The world needs more bare upper thigh.

Go to GoodWill or Salvation Army for some trail wear you can run into the dirt. Military Surplus stores have screaming deals on great boots. Remember those trail pictures of your mom and dad wearing frame packs and clothes reminiscent of Magnum P.I. and Scarlett from G.I. Joe? Yeah, that same wardrobe will bring a smile to your face, too.

Pack Right

Unless you’re tackling big objectives, there’s no need for a teched-out 120-liter pack. There’s also no place on the trail for a city sling pack or adorable, hyper-colored, bedazzled millennial knapsack, unless you’re hiking with scent of Axe Body Spray and hashtags.

Keep it simple with a simple pack. Military Surplus and thrift stores are a great, affordable option. For longer overnight hikes, a good hiking pack is a good investment, and one that will last for thousands of miles. But it won’t matter if you carry too much.

Pack light, too. For day hikes, you only need some snacks like an apple and a PB&J sammich, a rain jacket, water, and maybe an extra layer like a flannel. Take a deep breath. It’s just a hike, friends.

A Big-Ass Knife

Make Hiking Rugged Again

Does this even need an explanation? Knives are just plain sweet. Your knife should be a bit smaller than a sword (I mean, ya don’t want to look ridiculous) and have a leather sheath that hangs from your braided leather belt. OK, kidding again. But a trusty pocket knife is probably your best friend on the trail.

No, you will not be fighting a bear. But you will need something other than a twig to spread cream cheese on your bagel. Plus, it’ll come in handy when you need to dig a cat hole. Hiking causes poops. It’s just science, man.

Friends, yes, we gear junkies love our super-duper, radical gadgets, and top-of-the-line, newest tech. However, there’s something wonderful about keeping things basic and getting back to what inspired us to get out there in the first place: skinned knees, sweaty brows, dirt under our fingernails, and the sweet satisfaction of standing atop something tall and looking out into a great big wild space. You just don’t need that much to do that, friends. Hike on!

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