When hiking in the mountains (inevitably up a steep incline), often the prevailing topic of conversation is about optimal hiking techniques to conserve energy, and traverse up-hill terrain efficiently. I was recently browsing an Army Surplus store in Ohio, and came across a cache of field manuals with some great timeless advice from the United States Army. I’ve designated the relevant information from FM 21-76 (Survival Army Field Manual) in italics below. I’ll definitely be trying out some of these tips on my next hike! Let me know if you change your technique based on these pieces of advice, and leave your experience in the comments below.
General advice for hiking in the mountains
To save time and energy [while hiking in the mountains], keep the weight of your body directly over your feet by placing the soles of your shoes flat on the ground. …Take small steps and move slowly but steadily…
When you ascend hard ground
- Lock your knees briefly at the end of each step in order to rest your leg muscles
- Traverse steep slopes in zigzag direction—not straight up.
- Turn at the end of each traverse by stepping off in the new direction with the up-hill foot. This prevents crossing your feet and possibly losing your balance.
When you descend hard ground
- Come straight down without traversing.
- Keep your back straight and your knees bent so that they take up the shock of each step.
- Keep your weight directly over your feet by placing the full sole on the ground at each step.
There’s plenty more where that came from, and I’ll be scouring military and civilian resources for more tips and tricks in coming days.