One of the most grueling parts of Marine Corps life and training has to be the long-distance backpacks. Racking up many miles with a lot of weight on your back might seem like an easy proposition, but over time you begin to pick up a few things that can make an otherwise strenuous hike a little bit more enjoyable — or at least it’s a little less likely to be They cause the kind of pesky injuries that really make a week in the field feel more like a week in hell.
While the be-all and end-all of a long-distance hike is fairly easy (take enough food, water, and appropriate emergency gear with you, then just put one foot in front of the other until you’re done), there are some things you can get done before you do Hit the trail or take them with you on the hike, which pays dividends throughout the hump and afterwards as your body recovers.
Use dry deodorant to manage chafing
Despite exercising my entire adult life, I somehow never quite managed to get one of those “thigh gaps” that all the girls on Instagram are always talking about, and as such, there has always been chafing in my groin and between my thighs been a problem on long-distance hikes. The combination of sweat, the seams of my pants, and my rubbing thunder thighs always combine to leave my undercarriage raw, which quickly becomes one constant Source of pain when I log the miles.
Even with spandex underwear and an industrial stash of baby powder, chafing can rear its head and ruin your day, but you can alleviate much of that heartache (or, I assume, crotchache) by rubbing your dry deodorant stick all over the affected area. The deodorant forms a water-repellent barrier that protects the sore skin while you ride on. This trick has worked for me in the savannahs of Africa, the busy streets of Rome, and even the relentlessly damp forests of Georgia. Remember – it has to be a dry stick deodorant. Gel stuff just won’t cut it.
Carry a sharpie to keep track of bites
Spider and other bug bites can be a real cause for concern on the trail, and not necessarily for the reasons you think. You’re not very likely to be bitten by a spider with the kind of venomous punch to really make you sick, but even an otherwise harmless spider or insect bite can become a big problem in a field environment. Bites pose a high risk of infection, and not everyone reacts the same way to exposure to venom, bacteria, or stingers. That’s why it’s important that you keep track of any questionable bites that you accumulate during your hike.
Use a sharpie to draw a circle around the outside edge of a bite if you notice it, then note the time and day. Check the bite sporadically during your hike to see if the swollen, red area is expanding beyond the original circumference. Add circles with times while checking if the bite keeps growing. If the bite quickly grows beyond this first drawn circumference, is bright or dark red, and feels warm and firm, see a doctor, which can be a nasty infection. If you are having trouble breathing, it is a strong sign that you may be going into anaphylactic shock from an allergy, and you must instantly medical supplies.
Apply Moleskin to blister-prone areas of your feet before blisters form
If you’ve hiked before, you’re already familiar with moleskin as an anti-blister remedy, but most people don’t realize just how handy moleskin can be for blisters prevention also.
If you know that you’re prone to blisters in certain areas of your feet during long hikes (e.g., the back of the heel and the inside of the ball of your foot are two common hot spots), don’t wait for a blister to form to your to use moleskin. Instead, cut off a piece and apply it to problem areas on your feet in advance to add a protective buffer between the friction points of your boot and your feet themselves.
It helps to replace the moleskin about as often as you replace your socks to keep it from peeling off and bunching up on you (which causes another hiking nuisance), but if you get it right, you can escape even the longest hikes fairly bubble-free.