Hiking is a natural exercise that promotes physical fitness, is economical and convenient, and requires no special equipment. Because hikers can walk as far as they want, there is no physical strain unless they walk among hills or mountains. Hiking is basic to many sporting activities and is also a widely recommended and practiced form of physical training. If you would like to kick-start hiking habit as a beginner, you may need the following hiking tips to make your trek a successful one:
- Plan your hiking route carefully
There are few elements you might need to take note while planning your hike. For example, duration of the hike, your fitness level, the hiking distance, elevation gain, and weather.
- Gear up properly
Make sure all the heavy and bulky items are placed at the bottom of your bag. Remember the golden rule: Never bring unnecessary things for your hike. Here are the essentials you would need to bring along for hiking:
- 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) - minimum 1.5L
- Emergency shelter (tent/plastic tube tent/garbage bag/emergency blanket)
- Hiking pole
- Wear the right shoes and socks
Remember to always keep your feet happy as painful feet can ruin a hike. Start with good hiking footwear by investing in quality hiking shoes and socks. This is one area you should not skimp on. Whatever you choose, make sure the boots or shoes are well broken-in and comfortable for long distances. Wool or synthetic socks are the way to go. No cotton!
- Wear proper hiking clothing
Once your feet are taken care of, dressing right is key to comfort on your hike. Firstly, you will need clothes which will save you from chaffing. Secondly, your clothes need to be dry-fit so that you have proper ventilation. Also, in the case of it being windy and cold at the summit, you will need a high-quality windbreaker and jacket. Choose clothing made of quick-drying, moisture-wicking fabrics, such as wool or polyester. Avoid cotton, which takes a long time to dry when wet. You can think of clothing as separate systems:
- Next-to-skin base layers: Made of wool or polyester, these are most important in cool to cold temperatures.
- Hiking layers: These include nylon and/or polyester pants, T-shirt, sun shirt, sun hat.
- Insulation: Depending on the weather, you may need a puffy vest or jacket, lightweight fleece pullover, warm hat and gloves.
- Rainwear: It is wise to carry a waterproof jacket no matter the weather forecast. If you are expecting wet weather, bring the rain pants along, too.
- Stay hydrated
Water is one of the heaviest things that you can carry with you on a hike, but it is also the single most essential thing that needs to be with you. Many hikers carry all the water they will need for a day hike. However, if you anticipate needing more than about 3 litres, that can be quite heavy. So, remember to bring along a way to clean the water, such as a life straw or steripen as you need the water out in nature after you have finished the water you carry. Another advice, it is better to sip a little frequently than a lot every few hours (this is where a hydration bladder comes in handy).