3 Hiking Hacks with KEEN Gear
Experienced and novice hikers alike should always pack the ten essentials for any backcountry adventure: navigation, headlamp, sun protection, first aid, knife, fire, shelter, food, water, and extra clothing. When you need them in critical situations, you’ll be grateful you have them (like really, really grateful). But what about scenarios that are less dire? Say, opening a post-hike beer or keeping your hair out of your face when the wind picks up? For these types of situations, necessity is the mother of invention, and you’ve got to work with what you have. Check out some of our tips for how to use your KEEN gear in unexpected ways during those “Awww man!” moments.
1. “Ooops. These aren’t twist-off.”
(Or the bottle-opener-in-a-time-of-need-scenario)
An ice-cold beverage sure hits the spot after a long hike (or a short one for that matter). Ever since your last snack break two miles ago you’ve been dreaming of a refreshing beer and the designated driver hasn’t stopped talking about that frosty bottle of ginger-ale. But when you finally reach the car you discover that the cooler is full of pop-off tops instead of twist-offs and of course you didn’t bring a bottle opener. This scenario is so commonplace that there are now phone cases, flip-flops, and car hitches with built-in bottle openers. But, if you don’t happen to have one of these, our women’s and men’s Wild Sky boots may be able to assist. It takes some practice, but follow these steps and you’ll get the hang of it.
1. First, remove your boot and grab hold of it from the front around the laces so the heel is facing you.
2. Grab the bottle in your other hand. We’ve found that having the bottle in your non-dominant hand works best.
3. Notice the slightly ridged heel on the Wild Sky? This heel brake is designed to dig in on the descent but amazingly doubles as a great surface to aid with bottle opening. (Keep in mind that although the heel is durable, it’s not designed for continuously opening bottles. Use it once or twice and then get yourself a real bottle opener.)
4. Make sure you have a good hold on the bottle and wedge the top ridge of the heel under the fringe of the bottle cap. Brace the boot and use it to push up on the cap with all your strength.
Pro tip: We’ve found that some people get the hang of this quickly and others don’t have quite large enough hands to pull this one off. If it doesn’t work for you after a few attempts, just opt for a cold can of sparkling water instead.
2. “Everything's coming undone!”
(Or the I-have-just-the-thing-to-help-with-that scenario)
Your water keeps falling out of your backpack’s bottle pocket, your hair won’t stop blowing into your face and eyes, and your lantern hook went missing. Luckily, for these sorts of annoyances, our women’s Ravine H2 and men's Rapids H2 sandals can help. Convert these water-ready trail sandals into comfy slides by removing the backstrap. Then use that strap to secure your rogue water bottle, unruly hair, or solar lantern. Sure, it might not make for the best-looking hairstyle, but it gets the job done and even provides a safe place for the strap when your sandals are in slide mode.
In a critical pinch, those bungees can cinch and strap to save the day.
For another quick fastening option, look no further than our men’s and women’s Newports (or any of our other sandals with bungee action). You may think that these classic KEEN sandals are built with bungee laces for a secure fit and easy-on-and-off (and you’d be right). But when you're in desperate need of a gear strap or quick cinch (say when a sudden downpour leads you to discover that you packed the wrong backpack rain cover and need something to cinch down that oversized shell . . . and quick) look down at your feet for the solution. In a critical pinch, those bungees can cinch and strap to save the day (and also save your supplies from becoming a soggy mess). And if your fix is so good you want to keep it around long-term, get yourself a pair of replacement bungee laces, and give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.
3. “Glad I packed those!”
(Or the your-feet-will-thank-you scenario)
A perfectly packed backpacking rucksack is a hack all its own. It’s a fine balance figuring out what gear to pack and what to leave behind. How much water do you carry? How many pairs of socks do you bring? But after you log a bunch of trail miles, you’re bound to figure out what works best for you. There are plenty of guides out there about ultralight backpacking but this hack is more about comfort. (If you didn’t know already, we take comfort very seriously here at KEEN.) Our tip? Pack a pair of camp shoes. Sure, it may seem like added weight but when you put in your miles for the day, plop off your backpack and begin setting up camp and cooking dinner, you are gonna wish your feet had a fresh pair of shoes to slide into.
Enter the men’s and women’s Yogui Arts slides. Made from molded EVA cushioning, these lightweight sandals weigh in at 8.2 ounces (or the equivalent to 2 decks of cards, 15 CD’s, or a box of cream cheese). The molded design is wide and breathable so your toes can spread out during their off time. Plus, they easily attach to your backpack with a strap or carabiner via the cutouts on the upper. Now all you need is a warm cup of dehydrated soup and some stargazing.
Hiking is just one of those things that make you feel good. Out there in the woods, experiencing the awe of the natural world. Putting one foot in front of the other, covering miles and miles. Add in the pride of overcoming an unforeseen challenge, and you’ll feel downright invincible! Ever made a bear bag out of a sleeping bag stuff-sack and a bunch of shoelaces tied together? Yeah, neither have we, but it seems like it could work right!? What are some hiking hacks that have gotten you out of a bind? In addition to the ten essentials, what other basics do you always pack? We’d love to hear from you. Tag @KEEN and share your advice!