Man and woman hiking across river, low angle view
The key to more efficient hiking is simple—hike more. “Many people don’t go hiking because prepping for a hike seems like a pain,” says Craig Copeland, who with his wife Kathy has logged 45,000 kilometres researching their guidebooks. The solution? Keep your daypack packed, so you’re always ready to go; buy an opinionated guidebook; and then shift your mind into hiking mode.

1. Eat fuel, not meals. “Don’t waste hiking time cooking. Rely on nutritional science when you’re out there,” says Copeland. Meal replacement bars and no-cook meals are quick to pack, and save both hiking time and weight on your back.

2. Hike until dark. “In summer, daylight is so long you can get nearly two hiking days in one.” Say no to dinner parties on the days you plan to hike.

3. Find a good partner. Make sure their motivation, fitness and hiking goals match yours. “Sure, hiking is social, but it can be social with people who won’t slow you down,” says Copeland.

4. Use trekking poles. “Not one, but two—and certainly not old ski poles or a ridiculous Gandalf staff,” Copeland says. “They’ll help you hike faster, go father, in greater comfort, with a greater sense of security on rough terrain, and with far less chance of injury.”

5. Buy good gear. Especially shoes. Use the lightest shoes you can for the difficulty level of the hike.

6. Find the right pace. The more often you stop, the longer your hike will take—even if you hike fast between breaks. Instead, set out at a speed that you can maintain for three to five kilometres (or about one hour), then refuel and get back at it.

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