1. Do your research. Before heading out, know where you are going and what your activity comfort level is—you don't want to sign up for a strenuous hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon in the middle of summer without training in advance.
2. Wear the right shoes. Your feet are doing much of the hard work on the trail, so keep them happy by wearing the proper footwear. Before you head out, do some research on different styles of walking shoes and don't just purchase online. Instead, go to a store for a proper fitting. Also, make sure you break your gear in before walking—try to wear a new pair of shoes for a few months before doing a major hike. This way you also know the fit and feel is right.
3. Purchase a water filtration device. If you're traveling to a region where the quality of the drinking water isn’t reliable, instead of carrying and using dozens of plastic bottles, bring your own wide-lipped water bottle and a water filtration device like the SteriPen Adventurer. It’s lightweight and uses UV light to purify a liter of water in about a minute, which you do simply by stirring the device inside the filled bottle.
4. Don't take it with you. While on the trail, that driftwood on the beach or hunk of washed-up coral may seem harmless to take home as a souvenir, but imagine if everyone did the same thing. That starts to change the entire ecosystem. Don't do it.
5. Carbon offset. If you're flying to your destination, consider traveling with one of the 30-plus member airlines of the IATA around the world that offer carbon offset programs. These help neutralize the airplane's carbon emissions by investing in carbon reduction projects like tree planting or wind energy investments.
6. Bring eco-friendly soaps. If thru-hiking or staying in hostels where you'll be doing your own dishes, bring eco-friendly dish soap. This ensures you don't pollute the water with non-biodegradable washing products.
7. Consider the altitude. If you're coming from sea level, make sure you give your body enough time to acclimate before ascending a mountain. This is true whether you are climbing in the Himalayas or the Rocky Mountains. Altitude sickness is serious, and you can deteriorate quickly. To alleviate the risks, start at a lower altitude for a few days. So if you want to hike a 14,000-foot mountain in Colorado, begin with a few days at around 5000 feet in Denver.
8. Respect wildlife. This is especially important when hiking areas rich with wild animals. View that grizzly bear from a safe distance rather than edging in looking for the perfect Instagram. Not only do you risk getting mauled (or worse), but if you are attacked, the bear will most certainly lose its life for your stupidity. Wild animals are wild. Keep them that way.
9. Pick up trash. Not only should you pack out your own trash when hiking or backpacking (obviously), but also bring along an extra trash bag and clean up any garbage you see on the trail along the way. You'll be paying it forward for future hikers and helping sustain the environment.
10. Pack portable battery chargers. There's nothing worse than running out of battery power just when you reach the summit. To avoid this, purchase a portable charger like one by RavPower, which can charge two devices at once and offers multiple charges before the power source needs to be recharged.