One of my favorite post-hike hacks — especially after a long, hard hike — is to have a fresh pair of socks and shoes waiting for me back at the car. Bless whoever passed along this deep wisdom to me. It’s bliss every time.
I asked my audience if there were any more tips and tricks hikers had up their sleeves — and you came through. Here are 10 fantastic post-hike hacks, straight from the trail…
10 Best Post-Hike Hacks
1. Fresh Socks & Shoes
Airing out your feet for a minute and slipping into clean dry clothes will give you a massive boost before your drive home. It just feels so good.
- Ewa: Crocs and socks!
- Diana: Boots off, Crocs on. Euphoric.
- Bill: Only one pair? I change socks at the summit — then change into another pair in the car!
- Heather: Yes! I usually go with flip flops.
I also have a pair of compression socks. I don’t use them much but, whenever I put them on, they definitely do help. They’re a bit difficult to put on and I don’t want to waste too much time at at trailhead, especially if it’s cold. But some people swear by compression socks after a tough hike.
- You can also step up your Leave No Trace game with this cute additional trailhead hack for your shoes.
2. Fresh Upper Layers
It sucks to drive home in sweaty gear. A fresh teeshirt goes a long way to lifting your energy for the return journey. On colder days, throw on a fresh hoodie or sweatshirt too.
- Beth: Clean shirt. In winter an extra warm puffy jacket.
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3. Body Wipes
For your feet and your body, a stash of baby wipes or body wipes is a blessing.
I don‘t know about you but, by the end of long hike, my feet are a toxic dump site.
I just started doing this. So great.
4. Private Parts
Personal hygiene wipes are a great way to freshen up your disco district.
There are good pH-balanced products for women. Summer’s Eve Simply Sensitive Cleansing Cloths for Sensitive Skin and Goodwipes Down There Feminine Hygiene Wipes are both pH-balanced and get high ratings.
- Lindsay: Good for personal hygiene: I always keep the special ones for private areas and then regular ones for whole body in my post-hike bag. That way I can further my LNT efforts by not wiping on the trail.
5. More Fluids
On cold days, a hot beverage or soup in a thermos will heat you up immediately.
- Jess: Yes to this! I like to leave either a hot tea or iced water in a thermos in the car too. And a snack. Always a snack.
6. More Snacks
Jess has the right idea. You don’t have to carry it all. Leave a treat in your car for the ride home — a nut bar, a Snickers, an apple.
Okay, this might be my actual favorite post-hike hack.
7. More Salt
This is a great suggestion: stash yourself a salty snack.
A long or hot hike can seriously deplete your electrolytes. I’ve seen hikers get cramps on the trail, and I’ve had them myself a few times. (I now add a little sea salt to my water bladder when I’m filling it up.) It’s great to know you’ve got some salty goodness waiting for you: a bag of potato chips, Fritos, a small Gatorade, etc.
- Cathy: Change to town clothes, grab an extra water from the cooler, and a salty snack. (Then try to send a text to the wife saying I’m off the mountain, and then remember I don’t have any signal — every time!)
- Becky: Around mile seven is when that all starts to sound really good.
8. Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
A good friend does this basic yoga stretch at the end of every hike to release her back.
I can’t do the full stretch — I don’t do yoga and I’m not at all flexible — but it does feel quite calming to fold in half and pause for a minute.
9. When You Get Home
I used a foam roller for a long time but, once I got a stick roller, well, I rarely bother with my foam roller now. The sticks are so great for working out your calf and thigh knots.
10. Sleep Aids
I’m a late convert to the melatonin revolution. It’s great stuff. I never experience any grogginess. When my legs are really humming after a big day, 5mg of melatonin helps me fall asleep quickly. I use this brand which comes in chewable 5mg tablets. (I’ve sometimes taken two with no adverse reaction.)
11. Bonus Hack
This one isn’t so much for you as it is for the environment. How was the Leave No Trace aspect of your hike? A? A+? Very cool! Now you can take it to the next level with this simple trick for making sure you don’t bring home any alien lifeforms.
Bringing it All Together
Kelsey has a great post-hike routine that combines many of the elements above…
- I feel like my post-hikes are a little ritual now — maybe because I’m always solo & drive far? I take everything off and change into a clean, comfy outfit with sandals. Got my favorite podcast geared up with cold water (cooler in the summer) and a new snack ready. I cruise gently down the backroads all the way back to the highway with no GPS on just to see if I can remember exactly how I got to the trailhead. If it’s super-sweat season I bring a jug of water and rinse myself off with a towel in the parking lot. LOL. But you feel SO much better afterwards.
Prevention is always better than cure. On long, steep or rugged hikes, our feet and knees take a pounding.
Set yourself up for success at the start of every hike with wool socks, trekking poles, sunscreen, bug spray, and plenty of fuel and fluids. Your body will thank you later.
And you always pack the ten essentials, right? Cool, cool.