Hiking is the perfect way to experience the great outdoors, get some fresh air, melt away stress, and spend some time with friends. No matter what hike you plan to undertake and what your experience level is, it’s wise to be as prepared as possible to avoid potential problems. So we’ve gathered some pro tips to help you plan the perfect trip.
Get the Right Gear
First and foremost, you need some good hiking gear. Purchasing higher quality gear will be expensive but worth it in the long run. Novice hikers will often choose the wrong boots or shoes for the type of trail they plan to undertake. If you’re more of a day tripper, the best boot will be the day hiking boot. These will weigh less than 3.5 pounds and provide solid ankle support. If you’re embarking on a backpacking hiking trip, you will require something a little more durable – usually made out of leather – and about 5 or 6 pounds per pair. No matter what you choose, make sure to work them in before the big hike. It’s a good idea to go on a shorter hike or perhaps even a walk around the block while wearing the new boots to break them in. Your feet will definitely thank you.
(Over) Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
There are so many factors at play during a hiking trip, so although it might feel unnecessary, it’s a good idea to consider some of the worst-case scenarios you might encounter so that you can prepare for them. Even if the forecast predicts sunny weather, pack a compactible rain jacket – just in case. Bring an emergency whistle just in case you get lost or split up from a group. Know the trail you choose to go on without relying on your phone. It may even be in your best interest to bring a printed map of the trail.
Eat Like a Champion
Like any other form of exercise, when you’re going on a hike it is essential to fuel your body with the right food to replenish your energy and sustain your physical activity. A pre-hike meal should include healthy carbs – which turns into glucose that your body uses for energy – so anything like a couple of slices of whole-wheat toast with peanut butter, a bowl of whole-grain cereal with some berries, or a bowl of brown rice with some veggies will keep your body fueled up for your hike.
To eat during the hike, pack some lightweight and nutritious snacks to help keep you going. Trail mix, granola bars, bananas, apples, and nuts, are all great options that are easy to eat while walking.
Drink Lots of Water
In general, drinking water is important, especially so when going on a hike. Pre-hydration is key, so try drinking 16 fluid ounces two hours prior to the hike, and remember to continue with small sips while walking instead of infrequently chugging as this might cause cramps and slow you down. Typically, it’s best to drink about 16 fluid ounces every half an hour; however, some factors may require you to drink more. This can include hot weather and hiking at a higher altitude.
Choose the Appropriate Route
Make sure that when you are choosing a hiking route, it aligns with your fitness levels. If you are a beginner hiker, you don’t want to choose a trail that includes a huge summit. It’s good to start smaller and work your way up to longer and more strenuous hikes to build up your stamina and get some practice before you go big. A great app to use is AllTrails, which advises the user of the length of the hike, the approximate time it will take, the elevation, and who is suitable for the hike.
Make Safety your Number One Priority
Staying safe while on your hike is the most important factor. Remember the acronym ‘SAFE‘ — ‘S‘ means stay on the beaten path. Regardless of your familiarity with a specific trail, not only can you get lost, but it also erodes and damages the environment surrounding the hiking trail when you tread on it. ‘A‘ stands for always tell a friend where you’re going, including the route, how long the hike should take, and when you should be back – and don’t forget to let this person know when you return to avoid unnecessary worrying. ‘F‘ stands for fluids. Don’t forget to bring enough water or electrolytes to sustain you when you’re on your hike. And finally, ‘E‘ stands for eyes and ears open. It is so important to remain alert with eyes and ears open while on a hike. In the unlikely event that you see or hear a bear, you’ll want to have your bear spray in hand long before you’re face to face.