Hiking can be a wonderful experience for anyone at any age or physical level. If you enjoy the outdoors, fresh air and natural scenery – then hiking is definitely for you. Now finding the right hiking partner, well… that can be the biggest challenge!
Depending on what your idea of a hike is, it can fun and relaxing or it can truly be a challenging and potentially dangerous adventure. Personally, I enjoy hikes that offer challenge and adventure – but not to the point where I feel like I’m on a death march.
I also don’t recommend hiking alone, especially if you’re exploring a new trail. It is especially easy today to find a hiking club or a meet-up group for hikers on the internet in the area you wish to explore. Hiking alone on an unfamiliar, less traveled trail is especially asking for trouble, so take a partner or two and enjoy the trails. I hope these 7 hiking tips are helpful:
1. Be prepared
Be prepared with all the right gear. It doesn’t have to an expensive investment for proper hiking gear as long as you have the basic necessities. Even the act of buying used gear can be fun. In fact, ebay is a great place to find used equipment. I often recommend hikers to make it a point to purchase the backpacker review guide issue every year as a guide for purchasing older equipment.
Ideally a camelback is best, as it’s a water container with an easily accessible spout for a quick sip, combined with a small backpack to hold whatever else you may need. You’ll want to dress comfortably with optional layers for adapting to weather and body temperature changes.
Be comfortable in slightly loose clothing for easy mobility. Soft wool or cotton socks are best for comfort and insulation, as well as preventing blisters. Also, pack a lightweight rain poncho for unexpected showers. If you’re going to do a hike longer than one day I recommend you create a check list and keep it in your pack for reference. After a long hike I typically add or subtract from my list while it’s fresh in my mind as to what I really needed, omitting the unessential and extra weight during my most recent hike.
2. Bring Plenty of Water
You have no idea how many times I’ve given water to other hikers miles from the trail head because they under estimated. Obviously the climate and terrain will have a bearing on how much you will actually need. For example, hiking in Arizona when it is extremely warm and dry will require far more water than say hiking in Colorado where it’s cooler and water is more abundant. I recommend you calculate about 1 liter water for every 2 miles you intend hike. I’ve done hikes in the desert when the temperatures exceed 95° and I found myself using a liter of water every mile.
There are some really nice portable pump style purifiers on the market today. There also some nice bottle purification systems where the filtration system is integrated into the bottle top. When not using this type of purifier for hiking it gives me comfort knowing it’s in the back my SUV for emergency purposes. Dehydration is not a good thing, never wait to feel thirsty before drinking, it may be too late.
If you are hiking with a friend (or a dog), ensure they have enough water to drink as well. Do not drink directly from rivers, streams or even natural springs as there may unknown toxins or harmful contaminants in the water. Boiling water for 5 minutes is however an option if you have a stove and no purifier.
3. Sustain Energy
Sustain your energy and endurance with proper nutrition and natural supplements. Eat a hearty and nourishing meal about 2 hours prior to hiking. Fresh fruit and vegetables (especially potatoes), eggs and wholesome foods are best. If you are doing any kind of extended hike bring an extra day of meals, make it a point to leave bars and or trail mix in your pack as a source of energy.
My favorite all-natural energy supplement is Mdrive, as it will provide sustained energy and improved stamina throughout the day, as well as numerous other health benefits. CLICK HERE to read more about Mdrive.
4. Proper Shoes
Wear the right shoes! This is probably the most important tip for any kind of hiking is to have quality footwear that supports your ankles and the arch of your feet.
Standard sneakers, slip-ons, sandals or any other kind of mediocre shoes are insufficient for rocky trails and climbing. Slipping on loose rock or unstable footing can be hazardous as you can easily twist an ankle or cause a painful fall. Go to an outdoor retailer and find some quality hiking shoes or boots depending on the terrain.
5. Stay On The Trail
Stay on the trail and carry a map. Even the most experienced hikers and backpackers can easily get disoriented when out in the wilderness, so it’s imperative to know exactly where you are going, have a map with you and stay on a marked trail. I’ve gotten myself in trouble on several occasions relying on my GPS while leaving the trail. There are times when you know where you are but your forced to track back because it dead ends in a box canyon or a 30’ drop off. Even back tracking can be dangerous if your water supply did not account for an extra 6 miles of hiking in the hot sun.
It’s also a good idea to let someone know where you’ll be in case of an unforeseen mishap. Have you seen the movie 127 hours? At least they’ll know where to start looking if you don’t check in when you return from your trail adventure. Even maps can be misleading, so pay attention to where you are and noticeable landmarks you pass by.
6. Emergency Supplies
Have some emergency supplies. Make sure your mobile phone is fully charged and with you at all times. Even if you don’t have cell reception where you’re hiking, searchlights from helicopters and thermal imaging equipment, search and rescuers can detect your mobile phone’s lighted screen in an emergency situation.
A glow-stick or a small mirror is also effective. Also carry flint and/or matches or a lighter to make a fire if necessary. It’s a good idea to always have a first aid kit, compass, pocketknife and about 10 feet of duct tape. Extra food is good to have on hand such as a power-bar, nuts, and dried fruit – anything nutritious that offers sustained energy.
7. Respect The Wildlife
Be respectful of the wildlife and the land. You are the guest in this untamed territory. Have respect and be aware of everything around you. Avoid wearing earphones and listening to music as you’ll want to be able to hear any signs of danger such as a snake’s rattle or other animals nearby that may be defensive by your presence in their domain. Clean up after yourself, leaving no trace whatsoever. Bury any human waste and minimal toilet paper, and pick up any litter (even if it’s not yours) along the way.