Hiking is a great way to get outside, get exercise, let go of stress, and build relationships with others. A lot can go into a hike, but it can be quite fun! There are some things, though, that seasoned hikers learn along the way from trial and error. We would like to share with you some of those things so that you can learn without the errors, at least on some things!
1. Plan Ahead
Planning ahead is a crucial first step for beginning and experienced hikers alike! By taking the needed precautions and preparations before starting your hike, you are setting yourself up for success. You might even potentially save your life if you find yourself in trouble while out on a hike.
Some things to plan ahead for includes learning the logistics and layout of your planned hike, packing aptly for the weather and emergencies, and having a contingency plan in place for potential obstacles.
2. Think Lightweight
When you are hiking, everything you pack, you must carry! Those extra few kilograms might feel minute on the first few kilometers. However, by the time you are nearing lunch, you will regret bringing more than you needed.
Save on weight wherever you can and you will enjoy your hike so much more. Decant toiletries into smaller bottles. Be ruthless and only pack the bare minimum. Do not skimp on essentials, but don’t pack more than needed.
3. Dress In Layers
Depending on the time of year and weather conditions, dressing in layers can be the difference between an enjoyable hike and a miserable one. It really sucks when you are cold and have no way to warm up.
It’s also pretty uncomfortable when you are hot, but only have a sweater with you. By dressing in layers, you are allowing your body a chance to regulate, to wick moisture, and the option of flexibility.
You can start out with a base layer that is the layer touching your skin. Then a warmer middle layer. And then a waterproof outer layer for those surprise pop up showers.
4. Ziploc bags
Ziploc bags have to be hiking’s best-kept secret. They make sure that all your equipment stays dry in the case of an unavoidable downpour. Packing clothing and other items into Ziploc bags also help you to find what you need in your pack, without having to pull everything out.
Pack your day’s clothing into a single Ziploc bag and make getting dressed a breeze. As if that weren’t enough, Ziploc bags will help you to save space by “vacuum-packing” each bag before you seal it.
5. Comfortable shoes
Good hiking shoes will make all the difference when you are on the trail. Your feet are your only means of transport, so treat them well and you will be a happy hiker! There are many types of hiking shoe to choose from. Also, keep in mind that your trail may take you through water sections. You will want to make sure that your footwear can deal with that sufficiently.
Getting blisters on your feet is a quick way to cut a hiking trip short. It’s excruciating trying to push through that. This issue can be easily avoided by taking preventative action and adding moleskin to your feet ahead of time. Another way of preventing blisters is to make sure your shoes fit properly and are broken in.
6. Safety first
Emergencies can happen on the trail. Your cellphone, loaded with the relevant safety numbers, is your most important safety precaution. Remember to charge the battery before setting off, and keep your phone off to preserve battery life for when you need it.
It may be old-school, but a printed map of the trail and surrounding area and some simple navigation know-how can also be a big help should you wander off the trail. Hike in a group and always be aware of your surroundings.
A basic first aid kit is another necessity for the inevitable scratches, scrapes, and blisters. Take along some disinfectant, plasters, and medicine for diarrhea and vomiting. Insect repellant is also a great idea!
One more simple first aid item often overlooked is a shock blanket (also known as a space blanket). These shiny silver sheets trap an amazing amount of body heat and will keep you warm in the cold or if someone is in medical shock.
7. Refuel often
Delicious food can turn any tough situation around. Take along plenty of snacks to give that extra encouragement and to keep your body refueled. A trail mix of a variety of seeds, peanuts, and raisins, dried fruit, biltong, and chocolate!
8. Easy hiking meals
When hiking, think of simple, easy to prepare meals that will provide the nutrition you need to keep going. Some of the foodstuffs that work best are anything that can cook by adding boiling water.
Stuff like potato mash, instant noodles, vacuum-sealed smoked chicken, tuna, salami or other smoked sausages and biltong.
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