Hiking: Top 10 best tips for hikers
Hiking is a wonderful low-impact workout that offers multiple physical and mental benefits. It is an outdoor activity that benefits much more than just scenic views and fun. Use the following top 10 hiking tips to make your trek enjoyable and fun.
Choose the right trail for your fitness level
As a rule of thumb, you hike roughly 2 miles per hour. If you’re a beginning hiker, select a trail that is a bit shorter than what you normally walk on a paved surface. Review the elevation changes and add about an hour of hiking time for every 1000 ft of gain. After you have done this level of hiking a few times you will have a good idea of what distance and elevation level works well for you.
2. Familiarize yourself with the trail
Get a map of the area of the trail you choose and review data and reports. You can find most of these resources online. Find out if your trail is a loop so you will return at the starting point, or if you have to backtrack. Find out of there are intersecting trails to make sure you don’t take a wrong turn. Look for a great resting or lunch spot, maybe by a lake or on a peak with a view.
3. Check the weather
Before you leave, check the weather forecast. It will help you decide what to wear and what to pack. If the forecast doesn’t look good it will give you the chance to change your plans.
4. Tell someone where you are going
It is important that you let someone know your hiking itinerary and what time to worry and call for help. Don’t set a specific time for when you think you will be done. “Worry time” may be several hours later than your planned finish to allow for slow hiking, amazing views, or perhaps a sore ankle causing a delay.
Another option is to carry an emergency device such as the Spot Tracker which allows you to summon emergency assistance by satellite.
5. Pack the 10 essentials
The 10 hiking essentials have gradually shifted from a list of items to a list of systems. These are the systems you should pack to stay safe in the outdoors, including facing a potential overnight. Depending on the length and remoteness of your hike, expand or minimize each system. For example, on a short summer hike near services, a compact emergency blanket should be fine. However, a remote winter hike would require something more extensive. Here are the 10 essential systems:
Ten Essential Systems
- Navigation (map & compass)
- Sun protection (sunglasses & sunscreen)
- Insulation (extra clothing)
- Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)
- First-aid supplies
- Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candle)
- Repair kit and tools
- Nutrition (extra food)
- Hydration (extra water)
- Emergency shelter (tent/plastic tube tent/garbage bag)
This list may look daunting, but once you tailor it to your hike, it won’t be so bad. Check The Mountaineers to download this list.
6. Wear the right shoes and socks
There is nothing that ruins a hike more than painful feet. Invest in a pair of quality hiking shoes and socks. They don’t have to be big, bulky boots. There are many lighter hikers out there that don’t require a lot of breaking in. I have a pair of Keen Targhee II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots that I didn’t even have to break in. They were perfect when I put them on.
Don’t wear regular cotton socks! Always get wool or synthetic socks and make sure you have a pair of dry socks with you in case you risk water or mud on the trail you choose. It would be wise to pack a few blister band-aids.
7. Dress accordingly
Now that your feet are taken care of, dressing right is absolutely key for comfort during your hike. Don’t wear anything cotton. It gets damp and causes chafing. Go for synthetics. Layer your clothing so you can easily adjust to temperature changes. Lastly, pack something warmer than you think you’ll need, preferably something that blocks the wind as well.
8. Keep it light
Sounds a bit weird after I just told you to pack all this stuff. Keep it light means pick the lightest options of the things you have to pack. For example, take a travel size tube of sunscreen instead of a 16 oz tube.
9. Pace yourself
When you enthusiastically start on your trail, don’t power into it because at the end of the day you’ll be completely worn out unless you pace yourself. Pick a pace you can maintain all day. You may feel like a slowpoke in the beginning, but after a few miles, especially if you go uphill, you’ll be glad you saved your energy.
10. Leave no trace.
The beautiful trails we love will only stay beautiful if we care for them. Take time to read the Leave No Trace Seven Principals and follow them. It’s up to every outdoor enthusiast to take care of our natural spaces.
Using these tips I hope you’ll get out hiking this season. Where will you go? Leave a comment to share your ideas. I’d love to hear them!