You have finally managed to take some time out of your busy schedule to go on a hike. You want it to be perfect and make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible.
We often hear of hiking disasters and pray that the same thing doesn't happen to us. Nobody wants to find out that they havent packed an important thing or face some other problem midway through the hike.
The good news is that the perfect hiking trip is definitely possible if you keep the following tips in mind.
1. Choose The Right Trail
The hiking trail you choose should depend on the following factors.
● Distance If you are a new hiker, it is recommended you choose a trail which is on the shorter side.
You can start out with a 5 mile trail or a longer one if you feel like you are capable.
If you are not new to hiking and want to challenge yourself with a long hike, I recommend going for a trail which is longer than 10 miles.
● Time How much time have you reserved for the hike you are planning? The average hiker can hike about 2-3 miles per hour.
If you are new, it might take you longer. If you only have a few hours for your hike, choose a short trail.
If you have a day or two go for a long one which includes deep and rugged terrain for an adventurous touch.
● Preference Is there a trail you have always wanted to explore? Now is the time to push yourself and go on the hike of your dreams.
2. Pick The Right Clothes To Wear
Yes, there are certain clothing items which are not appropriate for hikes and can hamper your progress.
Avoid silk and clothing materials which are too thin or too stiff.
And stay away from heavy denim as much as possible. Instead of jeans, go for a good pair of hiking pants. You can find some of the best hiking pants here
3. Layer Your Clothes
In case of unpredictable weather conditions, a hiking clothing layering system will help you add and take off exterior layers depending on whether it gets too hot or cold.
Generally the 3 layer system is followed for hiking.
● Base layer - The base layer consists of clothing which is worn directly next to your skin.
Synthetic materials are great for base layers since they speeden up wicking, a process where the sweat is drawn away from your skin.
Cotton should be avoided as the base layer since it quickly soaks up and stores sweat next to your skin.
● Mid layer - The mid layer is also known as the insulating layer since it helps manage your body heat.
A fleece jacket, usually polyester fleece, is most commonly used as the mid layer since it is light, breathable and retains its insulating properties even when it is wet.
● Outer layer - The main purpose of the outer layer or the shell layer is to protect you from elements like wind and rain.
The shell layer which is usually a jacket should be waterproof and made from breathable fabrics.
4. Pay Attention To Your Footwear
Choosing the right footwear for hiking is more important than you think. If you make the wrong choice, you will struggle to finish your hike because of pain or discomfort.
For light hikes, go for light hiking shoes with flexible midsoles. If you are going to be hiking on a wide variety of terrain like rocky paths or glacier trails, go for mountaineering or backpacking boots.
You should never wear new boots right out of the box on a hike. Wear them out a few times to get your feet to adapt to them.
5. Plan Ahead Of Time
Planning ahead is important especially if you are going on a long hike.
And I am not just talking about planning the things you need to pack.
Take time to research about your trail, know the rules, locate resupply points and book accomodation in advance if necessary.
6. Pack The Essentials
There are some essential items you will need to pack before you leave on your hike. Make a list of everything you will need so you will have a clear idea of what to pack.
Some essentials you should pack include,
● Navigator tools like a compass or GPS locator
● Plenty of water
● Weatherproof clothing like waterproof jackets and waterproof hiking footwear
● Multi Tool kit
● Hiking Backpack
● First aid kit
7. Get In Shape
If you think you can finish a hike successfully without making any prior physical preparations, you are wrong.
Even if you are an expert, it is recommended you prepare your body for consecutive hours and days of walking.
You can start by following an exercise routine every day at least 1 month before your hike. Incorporate strength training
in your routine especially for your legs and core.
Go for short practice hikes at least 2-3 times a week.
8. Be Prepared For Emergencies
It is always better to be prepared for emergencies and accidents which might happen on your hike.
● If you are going on a long hike, consider familiarizing yourself with basic first aid and dont forget to pack a first aid kit in your backpack.
● Tell your family and friends that you are going on a hike and let them know when you will be back.
9. Dont Let Your Pack Weigh You Down
While it is important to pack the essentials, avoid packing stuff you wont need for your hike.
A heavy backpack will wear you out faster and you might even be forced to discard unnecessary items midway through the hike.
10. Follow The Hiking Rules
Every hiker should follow the basic rules of hiking etiquette.
● Acknowledge other hikers you see on the way even if it is a simple hello.
● Dont step off the trail since you can hurt ecosystems
which surround the trail.
● Dont disturb wildlife.
● Dont litter or leave refuse anywhere.
11. Enjoy Your Hike
No hiking trip is successful unless you enjoy it. Stop stressing about unnecessary things and take a moment to enjoy the sights around you.
Hiking is the perfect way to disconnect from your busy life so make the most out of this opportunity.
Res Marty , the founder of resmarty.com
is an experienced hiker who has explored countless hiking trails in many countries. He helps people find the best camping and hiking equipment by reviewing them on his blog.