Hiking is a fun and rewarding activity. It’s great for your mind and body, and sometimes can be practically a therapeutic experience. Hiking and walking on a trail is different than moving on a paved road and treadmill. The ground is different, often uneven, and with its own challenges. So a careful hiker is well-prepared. Hiking is a lot more enjoyable when you are prepared. With that in mind, I present a few tips that can help with a better hiking experience.
8 Tips To Get More Out Of Hiking
1. Hike A Trail Suited For Your Experience
Take a trail best suited for your experience and fitness level. Challenging and pushing yourself is always good, but don’t go pushing yourself beyond reason. If you want to tackle tougher trails, don’t jump on them right away. Start small, with trails that are a convenient match. Small, incremental changes will soon make it possible to tackle more challenging trails. In some ways, it is the experience you gather while negotiating smaller trails that eventually works its way to winning over difficult trails.
2. Maintain A Steady Pace
You don’t have to hit the ground (or the trail) running. There is no rush! You should not saunter either, just keep a steady pace. Keeping a good pace will ensure that you have plenty of time to enjoy the sites you see along the path.
A steady pace works for better endurance and you will be able to cover more distance and reach your destination on time. Going too fast will tire you sooner and going too slow will take up precious time. Of course, remember to adjust the pace to the terrain you’re negotiating. When you’re going uphill, take shorter steps to conserve your energy.
3. Get Good Hiking Boots And Socks
Your feet are going to do a lot of work on a hike, so keep them comfortable and in top shape. People often spend a fortune on hiking boots and that is a good investment. However, it is worthwhile to look for cheap but comfortable hiking boots that offer comfort without burning a hole in your wallet. Points to consider while buying boots are waterproofing, build quality, comfort, and support for heels and ankles.
Give your socks some extra attention as well. While people often stress the importance of picking the right shoe, the socks somehow get ignored. Cotton socks are a big no, so are ankle-length socks. Pick socks that are at least 30% wool blend or synthetic performance socks that are above ankle length, up to the mid-calf. Heel cups and arch contours on socks are a good pick. Also, pack blister bandages and dressings, just in case.
4. Know The Trail And Weather
Prepare for your hiking journey. It’s not enough to take a trail, but know what the trail presents. Take a map and study the trail, plan where you’ll stop, and what the trail will bring your way. Know if the trail is a loop or if it will take you to another area.
There are plenty of online resources and maps available. However, if you are in a particularly remote area or on tough terrain, forget online maps and get a detailed map on paper. A high-quality map that accurately depicts the area is a better choice to take along. Keep tabs on the weather. You can’t expect cell phone service everywhere on the trail, so for tougher and longer trails consider taking along a radio. Extra points if your radio can pick up NOAA weather alerts.
5. Hydrate And Eat
Staying hydrated and eating well on a hike is as much of an art as maintaining a steady pace. A good idea of staying hydrated is taking in small sips of water several times along your path. Don’t wait up until you’re thirsty and drink a lot of water in one go. Instead, pace yourself well and have some water at fixed intervals. The same idea applies to eating too. Take some snacks that you can munch on along the path. Hikes can be intensive, and you need to maintain your energy level.
6. Keep A Good Posture
Your posture makes a big difference. Often while hiking, especially when going uphill, people tend to slouch. Sometimes, it is the desire to look at the trail and keep feet firmly on the ground, other times, it is simply about people feeling tired. That’s bad posture for a hike, especially when you’re climbing up. That posture, i.e. hunching over makes it difficult to breathe.
Stand up straight, and avoid hunching. People often end up blaming this difficulty in breathing to “increased elevation.” That doesn’t become a problem until you’re more than 2000 meters above sea level. And if you’re beyond that elevation, it becomes all the more important to maintain a good posture.
7. Exercise For Better Hiking
A better hiking experience comes with better health. A hike shouldn’t be your only workout in weeks or months. Exercising regularly is good for general health, and a better hiking experience overall. In your daily life, walk where you can.
As an example, if the grocery store is near your place, walk to it rather than take the car. Any place that is close enough to walk to should be negotiated on your own feet. Also, consider exercises that strengthen the body core. Planking is very useful for upping core strength.
8. Dress Well And Be Prepared
Being prepared will make your camping experience better. These are a few simple precautions to take for your safety. Let someone who is not hiking with you know where you will be. This person should be aware of your itinerary and be prepared to call for help if you don’t show up where you should be.
While hikers prefer to travel light, keep some necessities on you. Dress according to the weather and keep an extra pair of clothing with you. It’s wise to keep a first aid kit, extra water, waterproof matches, flashlight or lamp, and an emergency shelter.