13 clever hiking uses for paracord

I think we can all agree that paracord is a must have piece of gear for anyone that spends a lot of time on the trail; however if you’re anything like I was you probably have 100 feet paracord sitting at the bottom of your bag without much of an idea of how to put it to practical use. In this article I highlight some of the countless uses I have found over the years for this now essential item that I’ll never go on a hike without again.

1. Keeping bags away from pests

Hanging food in trees for overnight camping. If you are in an area where bears or other campsite pests may be a concern use your paracord to hang your pack in a tree away from your camp to keep it safely out of there reach.

2. Setting up shelter

Whether you’re using paracord to hang a hammock or tent or fashioning a make shift shelter to keep you dry from an unexpected rain storm, para cord is incredibly useful when it comes to setting up a sound shelter.

3. Setting up a clothes line

This comes in handy whether your camping or just taking a break from your trek and have some gear you need dried. A makeshift clothesline can be crafted in a matter of moments using two sturdy trees and 20 or so feet of paracord.

4. Anchoring a small boat to land

Many of us like to explore the forests via water ways using Canoes. Kayaks or other small boats. Whether your charting an adventure down a creek or river system or simply hanging out for a day at the lake, if your having trouble getting your small boat to stay put paracord should do the trick.

5. Spare laces for hiking boots

Breaking a lace on the trail can quickly ruin a good day of hiking. If you have a little paracord in your pack there shouldn’t be anything to fear though. Simply cut off a shoe lace length’s worth of cord and use it to re string those boots and get back to it.

6. A belt

This one has happened to me before. You get out on the trail and realize you left your belt at home and you’re stuck pulling your pants up every 2 minutes. Use your paracord to either make a belt or set of suspenders to keep your pants at the right height.

7. Tie extra gear to your pack

I typically use this in tandem with hiking clips to secure gear that i want quick access to to the outside of my bag (a water bottle for example). Simply tie the paracord around your gear, tie a knot at the end and clip it to your bag for easy access.

8. Emergency tourniquet 

In the unlucky event that you sustain an injury on the trail paracord can be used as a first aid item to assist in making a makeshift tourniquet. Note I would for sure still recommend packing a first aid kit if at all possible.

9. Hang a pot over a fire

Paracord can have great applications when it comes to camping. Among one camping use is to hold a pot steady over a fire. This makes it easy to do things like boil water or cook a meal at your site.

10. Zipper pull repair

Don’t let a broken zipper pull get in the way of your good time. With just a few inches of extra paracord you can easily create a makeshift zipper pull to attach to any bag or jacket.

11. Improvising a stretcher

Lets hope this is never a situation you find yourself in but god for bid you or someone your with gets hurt on the trail. Typically when people find themselves in this position they don’t have the slightest idea of what to do. With a few sturdy sticks and a decent length of paracord you have a decent chance at creating a stretcher that can actually carry someone to safety.

12. Making rain gear

If you spend a lot of time hiking you absolutely will come across unexpected rain at some point. rather than let mother nature do her thing and just get drenched, if you have a tarp or fire blanket and a few feet of paracord you have everything you need for some makeshift rain gear.

13. Fishing line

Now I wouldn’t suggest entering any angler competitions with this one but if you do find yourself in a jam or simply just want to try something creative, fishing with paracord is certainly within the realm of possibility.

There are 100’s of different ways paracord can be utilized on the trail. These are just some examples that I have found useful of just simply entertaining in my travels over the years. If you don’t already have paracord in your bag now is a great time to invest. This is an incredibly useful resource to carry on you and probably one of my favorite overall hiking gadgets.

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7 Simple tips for an amazing hike

Packing your bag and hitting the trail for a day of hiking is the greatest feeling in the world, as long as you don’t suck at it. Knowing what you’re doing can be the difference between an amazing day out or a miserable potentially even dangerous situation. Luckily there are many things within your control that you can do to improve your chances of having a trek that you’ll never forget. I’ve got 7 easy and practical tips for you so that you can avoid some of the countless mistakes I made when I first got into the hiking game.

1. Know the correct address

The key to making your hike unforgettable begins by researching the trail that you plan to hike. One tip I have learned and re learned over the years is to get the exact address of where you plan to park. More often than not if you just type the name of the trail you want to hike into your GPS you end up in some random field 3 miles from the parking lot you need to be in. This silly mistake has cost me valuable hiking time on more than one occasion.

2.  Research the parking situation

If you aren’t familiar with parking lots for hiking trails take it from me. Hiking parking lots fill up quick and not being able to get a spot in these lots sometimes means walking several miles from an alternate lot before your hike even begins.. Do as much research on how many lots are, how many available spots the lots have, parking restrictions, and how early the lots typically fill up. This information can easily be found through a simple google search and if done before hand can save you a lot of time trying to find a backup plan.

3. Water

Don’t laugh, you’d be surprised how often people simply don’t realize how important hydration is before embarking on a great hike. The amount of water you’ll need depends on several things including the length of the hike, the temperature and how hydrated you are before going into the hike. For a short day hike (anything 5 hours or less) I usually hydrate generously before hand and pack about 32 ounces of water. If that doesn’t sound like enough for you products such as Camelbacks can be purchased on Amazon or a bunch of other site relatively inexpensively. Although I don’t typically take that much water on short hikes I highly recommend it to anyone that thinks they need more water without the weight and bulkiness of carrying multiple water bottles. If not there are plenty of great light weight water bottles that can be purchased super inexpensively as well. Plastic bottles that you can pick up from a convenience store work just fine too just please don’t be one of the hikers that litter on the trail. Nothing is more of a bummer for myself and many other hikers I know than littering (stepping back down off my soap box now).

4. Snacks

I am always shocked by how often people forget to pack some form of nourishment for a day hike. I think that people sometimes forget that hiking can be a rather arduous activity. Regardless you really do burn a ton of calories while your out there on the trail so this item on the list is one you will find yourself very happy you didn’t forget. My personal choice is typically a cliff bar (although I’m taking a hiatus from sugar for the time being) or beef jerky as well as some form of nut (I like cashews). The reason I choose these is because they are light weight, I like the taste and they give me real energy. I try to avoid junk foods or anything overly processed just because I’m really looking to get some clean long lasting energy into my system. This item is probably the second most important item. Do not let hanger ruin your trip.

5.  A good back pack

Now this is not to say you need a backpack for a day hike. A lot of times on short hikes I’ll ditch the backpack all together. My mantra when it comes to hiking is bring only what you need. Dead weight just equals back pain in my opinion. That being said if i have packed a few snacks water bottles and maybe a camera it’s nice to have somewhere to store everything. It also really helps to avoid littering which is a huge favor to all of us that love and respect the great outdoors. Backpacks can range anywhere from a few dollars all the way to hundreds or even thousands. Again it’s not a necessity if you’re only planning a short hike but if you’re someone that gets into hiking a nice backpack is an awesome thing to have. I go into specifics about what makes a great back pack in my post Choosing the best hiking backpack for day hikes. If your not in the market for a new backpack right now whatever you have should do the trick.

6. Appropriate footwear.

This does not necessarily mean boots, although boots are great. Should you choose to where boots I’d make sure to select a boots catered towards hiking. If I know the terrain isn’t going to be too intense I actually prefer sneakers due to the fact that they weigh less. Not all sneakers are ideal for hiking. The key to success when it comes to footwear is ankle support, Grip and comfort. Just remember your going to be walking for several hours straight on potentially rugged terrain. You need to put serious thought into the footwear you choose or you may just spend several hours straight walking in extreme pain. In short the particular footwear depends on the particular hike, just know the decision should be well thought out before hand.

7. A Poncho

You never know when a sudden rain storm is going to come on. Ponchos can be purchased very cheaply and weigh next to nothing. they can be easily stored in a pocket or a back pack and can be re used. There is basically no reason not to have one on you and in the very possible event that it does decide to rain you may be several hours away from a change of clothes. Get yourself a poncho. Trust me if you find yourself in a situation where you need it you will be so happy that you have it.

We can’t control everything out there on the trail. This is part of the beauty and allure of hiking. But we can be intelligent and do the things within our control correctly to exponentially increase our chances of having an excellent experience interacting with the great outdoors. Thanks so much for reading and please feel free to reach out on social media with hiking questions you have so I can continue to put out articles like this.

Life on the trails is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

5 Tips For Perfect Hammock Camping

Hammock camping is a great way to keep comfortable and stay light on the trail. Whether you’re planning a long trek or just going camping with friends for the weekend hammock camping is an awesome way to do it and is far more comfortable than the traditional tent approach. This approach also makes finding a camping site super easy and for some reason I just feel like it’s cooler.

1. Get a tent for your hammock

Nothing will ruin a hammock camping trip quicker than not being prepared for rain. I’ve had instances before where the forecast called for a zero percent chance of rain and it still ended up raining in the middle of the night. Regardless of what the forecast says you want to have your hammock tent if you plan on using your hammock to sleep in. These are light weight and inexpensive and can be easily picked up at most sporting stores or online. Keeping a hammock tent in your bag gives you the luxury of shelter at any time for very little extra room or space in your bag. Most tents are easy to use and can be set up in just a few minutes with a little practice.

2. Get A mosquito net

This is another must for me simply due to the fact that the consequences for not having it are too high for me. When you’re asleep it’s essentially just a feeding frenzy for any bugs that realize you’re there. Mosquito nets start at just a few dollars and weight next to nothing. They’re super easy to set up and they will ensure that you are safe from pests in the night. This isn’t the most glamorous piece of gear that your going to have in your pack but it is one that you’ll for sure be glad you have if you find yourself in a situation that calls for it.

3. Bring a sleeping bag

Often times it gets a lot cooler at night than first time campers expect. Do not make the mistake of assuming the hammock and a sweatshirt will be enough to keep you warm throughout the night. Make sure that you pack a half decent camping sleeping bag with you. I have done this one personally and the discomfort kept me up half the night and I didn’t have the energy I would have liked to hike the following day. I even go so far as to keep a few hand warmers in my bag in case I get stuck out on a particularly cold night.

4. Do a trial run

The last thing you want is to realize you have a problem when you’re about to set up camp. I personally set up camp in my back yard and slept out there all night to ensure that I had everything i needed for the actual hike. Now I’m not saying sleep in your backyard, but I will it’s better to know what you need when your house is 10 feet away than when your 20 miles into the woods. Regardless of your personal approach, make sure that your have everything you need packed  well ahead of time to avoid a great night on trail turning into a disaster.

5. Tree straps

This is actually one thing that i haven’t invested in yet personally but i feel its necessary to mention in this post due to the fact that everyone of my friends that uses a hammock makes fun of me for not having them. I must say I see the benefit of the straps when its time to set up camp and i’m sitting there tying knots like its the 1800’s and everyone that i’m with is set up in 10 seconds. I haven’t grabbed these yet simply due to the fact that I spend entirely too much money on hiking gear as it is and I just haven’t gotten to this particular thing yet. In time I’ll eventually invest in some but if you are looking to get into hammock camping and your more intelligent than myself I would highly recommend them.

Hammock camping can be a little intimidating at first but it’s hands down one of the greatest ways to experience life on the trail. With a little bit of preparation you can get all of the beauty that nature has to offer with a comfort level that you simply don’t get with a traditional tent. A great camping trip is something that everyone should experience at some point of there life and in my opinion hammock camping is the best way to go about it. Best of luck my friends, please share your hammock camping experiences as well as any questions you have with me so that I can continue to make posts like this and share information with those looking to up there hiking game.