I have hiked two mountains in my life so far. I cannot emphasise enough how unprepared I was on both counts. I did both hikes each time thinking they would be like taking a slow walk on slightly inclined grounds. That could not have been so far from the truth. There is much more to hiking than meets the eye, especially in terms of physical preparation. I have compiled this list to help you when preparing for a hike.
1. Good Hiking Shoes
We have done a post on eight features good hiking shoes should have. Please feel free to go through it for more details. In summary, the pair of shoes you choose to wear for your hiking trip will significantly determine the comfort and success of your adventure. Since you will be on your feet for most of the time, it is paramount to ensure you are very comfortable. Therefore, make sure to get the right shoes before the actual hiking day.
2. Right Hiking Attire
You do not want to wear anything for your hiking trip. Most people assume that as long as you are in casual clothes, you are good to go. The truth is that the material of your clothes also matters. The best hiking clothes are loose-fitting, have an extent of stretching, and excellent friction resistance. Tracksuits, khaki and sweat pants are among the best hiking attire as opposed to silk, jeans or cotton clothes. You should have enough space for blood and air circulation inside your clothes, and room for manipulation in case of an emergency. Your clothes should also be poor conductors of heat. They should be able to keep you cool when it gets hot and retain your body heat when the temperatures begin to drop.
3. Hiking Bag
The best bag, if you are preparing for a hike, is a backpack – not a sling or waist bag. A backpack allows for equal weight distribution around your body without affecting your centre of gravity. It also has more room to pack more things. Avoid carrying weighty things though. Carrying a heavy backpack for a prolonged amount of time can cause back injuries. Make sure the straps are strong and firm enough to hold all your items without tearing. A backpack with multiple pockets is more efficient for load distribution.
4. Must-have Items
When preparing for a hike, avoid going empty-handed. I understand that you might want to enjoy a lovely quiet afternoon alone. Still, there are a few necessary items to have with you. A first aid kit with painkillers, anti-inflammatories, antihistamines, Epipen, bandages, ointment, and sanitiser is the first. A torch, a cell phone (preferably one with an antenna), a matchbox and some fire starters such as paper are others. It might seem exaggerated, but a lot can happen on a hiking trip, especially if you are alone. You are better off over-prepared than getting caught off-guard.
5. Electrolytes and Snacks
While hiking, you will require a few snacks to give you an energy boost. They should have a high sugar concentration, but avoid overdoing it. The best snacks for hiking include energy bars, toffee sweets and glucose. You should have one candy bar every hour to prevent your body from dehydrating and inducing nausea from excess sugar. Avoid oily or fatty snacks or those rich in starch such as wheat or potatoes. For hydration, go for electrolyte-rich drinks instead of water which will only cause too many bathroom breaks. The electrolytes keep you hydrated and energised, without causing any inconveniences.
6. Stretching Exercise
If you are not a usually active person, make sure you warm up your body before the hiking trip. You can start as early as a week before. My second hiking trip was abrupt and poorly prepared. I ended up with all sorts of body aches and pains, not to mention shortness of breath. I thought I was sick, only to learn later that I had exerted my body too suddenly. Physical preparation is critical. Some of the ways you can jolt your body for an upcoming hiking trip include doing stretching exercises, swimming, jogging, cycling, and taking long walks. Any cardiovascular and muscle activity is efficient in preparing your body for what lies ahead.
7. Enough Rest
Do not get out of an eight-hour shift and jump into a hiking train. Your body needs all the rest it can get for the experience even if you are doing a modest terrain like the Hell’s Gate canyons. If you hike without taking the much-needed rest, you risk suffering symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, muscle aches, numbness, drowsiness, and even fainting.
Hiking is an enjoyable activity that everyone should try at least once a year. It allows you to traverse the least explored areas, which always end up giving the best scenery and views. It is also a great form of exercise, not to mention a form of therapy. However, it would be best if you did not jump into it without proper preparation. Make sure you follow all the above steps to get the best experience. We would love to hear any additions you consider when you are preparing for a hike. Happy Hiking!