5 Hiking Tips
When the sun is shining and the birds are chirping, it’s nearly impossible to resist getting outdoors. So, don’t fight the urge. Plan a hike at a state park in the area or along your favorite trail near home. Before you embark, though, you should keep a few things in mind. We’ve compiled a list of the five hiking tips you should keep in mind when you set out your for next hike:
- Make a plan. For this initial step, start simple: check the weather. Ideally, you should pick a day when it’s going to be sunny, but not too hot (and not too cold). Map out a hiking route that’s realistic given your experience and fitness level. Recruit at least one other person to hike with you—or, even better, a group. If you’re going to be gone for more than an hour or two, print out your hiking plan for a friend who’s staying at home and give him a call once you’ve finished up so that he knows all went according to plan.
- Dress right and pack light. If you’re just going on a quick hike for a few hours, don a pair of trail shoes and lightweight clothing. If you plan to hike for a few days—or tackle terrain rockier than a park trail—opt for heavy duty hiking boots instead. Wear sweat-wicking clothing and a hat or sunglasses on a sunny day. Slather on the sunscreen and pack some extra for the trip since you’ll likely sweat off that first layer. Don’t bring too much extra stuff, just as much as you can comfortably carry and will need for the duration of your journey.
- Drink and snack often. Without the proper fuel, you can’t expect to keep going for very long, so make sure you bring plenty of water along for your adventure. If you’re planning more than a daylong hike, you might want to bring along a water purifier, too, so you can drink directly from natural water sources. Also, load up on healthy snacks like trail mix and fruits before you embark.
- Stop for breaks. Even if you’re a seasoned outdoors person, don’t overexert yourself. Especially in hot temperatures, you should take a 10-minute breather for every hour of hiking you do. Spend that time rehydrating, nibbling on some of your snacks, and letting your heartbeat slow for a few minutes.
- Have all the essentials on hand. Although packing light is important, it’s not quite as important as being prepared in case of an emergency. This means that you should bring along at least a basic first aid kit, which you can pick up at any outdoors store, as well as a map and a compass in case you lose reception. Don’t forget to pack a photo ID, your insurance card, and a credit card, too. Although you probably won’t need them out on the trail, it’s better to be over-prepared than under-prepared on the off chance that you encounter the unexpected on your hike.