You must know how to prepare for a hike to prevent accidents, health complications, or getting lost on the trail. You would not want your next hike to be your last hike, cliche as it may sound but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
There are several ways that you can prepare for your next hike for it to become a successful hike. You get to fully enjoy the scenery, embrace the hiking activity, and appreciate the mountain if both your physical and mental condition are in shape.
So, to help you get the right hiking preparation, we have researched the top tips that seasoned hikers recommend.
You might have already been doing some of the steps and some might be something new to you. Either way, you need all the helpful tips that you can get for the best hiking experience.
The following are the best tips on how to prepare for a hike:
Get in Shape for your Hike
Getting in shape for your hike is the most important part especially if your hike takes several days. Your body must be in top condition to withstand difficult parts of the trail that requires more effort than normal. The fickle weather condition in the mountains can also affect your health if your body is not ready.
There are several ways for you to prepare your body but the following are the highly recommended ones:
Cardiovascular activities are great to help with hiking preparation. It helps increase your heart rate and strengthens your lungs which are important for long hikes. When your heart and lungs are in good condition, it provides more oxygen to your muscles making them work more efficiently.
You don’t need to go to the gym or run a marathon to prepare your cardiovascular system. Start with simple activities such as brisk walking, jogging, or swimming. You can also try hiking on short trails to get your body used to the activity.
Hiking requires a lot of strength, especially when carrying a backpack filled with supplies. It would be difficult to finish the hike if your muscles are weak. To prevent this, do some strength training exercises a few weeks before your hike.
You can start with simple exercises such as sit-ups, push-ups, and squats. You can also try lifting weights to build more muscles. If you don’t have time to go to the gym, you can do some bodyweight exercises at home.
Stretching is an important part of hiking preparation. It helps prevent injuries by increasing the range of motion in your joints. It also helps improve your balance and coordination which is important in navigating difficult terrain.
You can do some simple stretching exercises such as touching your toes, lunges, and shoulder stretches. You can also try yoga or Pilates to improve your flexibility.
Your exercise routine should be partnered up with getting a healthy diet. Eating the right food helps improve your overall health and makes your body stronger. It also provides the energy that you need to finish a hike, especially a long one.
Make sure to eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Research about the Trail
Researching in advance about what to expect during your hike will give you the necessary information about what things to bring to have a successful hike. The following are the things that you should look at when researching the trail:
Check Weather Conditions
One of the most important things on how to prepare for a hike is Weather. Weather conditions can change quickly in the mountains so it’s important to check the forecast before your hike. This will help you prepare the proper clothing and gear to make sure that you’re comfortable during the hike.
Look at the Type and Difficulty of Terrain
The terrain of the trail can be easy, moderate, or difficult. It’s important to know this in advance so you can prepare your body and gear accordingly.
An easy trail is mostly flat with some gentle inclines. A moderate trail has more inclines and might have some difficult sections. A difficult trail is mostly uphill with rough terrain.
Check for any Hazards
There might be some hazards along the trail such as wild animals, poisonous plants, and steep drop-offs. It’s important to be aware of these hazards so you can take the necessary precautions.
Checking the travel logistics will also save you hassles as you travel on your way to the hiking spot. Make sure to check the following:
- Parking and shuttle information
- Permits and fees
- Hours of operation
Trail Distance and Trail Elevation
How hard you train will be dependent upon how long your hike will be and how high in elevation the trail is. If it’s a long hike that requires weeks of walking, then you have to train weeks or months early to make sure you build the stamina and strength for the hike.
You can find this information on the website of the park where the trail is located or by contacting the ranger station.
Pack Your Hiking Essentials Properly
After you have researched the trail information, you are now ready to prepare all the hiking essentials that you need. You can prepare a packing list so that you are sure that you cover everything that you need during the hike. Some trails will have you be far off from civilization so you need to carry all the essentials that you need.
The following are the important things that should know on how to prepare for a hike:
- Hiking Bags – Choosing the right bag for hiking depends on the duration of your hike. But you should use a lightweight bag that would tremendously lessen your burden during the hike.
- First-aid kit – This should be inside your pack at all times. Accidents can happen anytime and first-aid kits will help a lot while you wait for help.
- Navigation tools – You can bring a map or a GPS device with you. But if you’re going to use a map, make sure that you know how to read it.
- Hiking Poles – These will help reduce the impact on your knees when walking downhill. They are also useful in crossing rivers and streams.
- Headlamp – A headlamp will come in handy just in case your hike takes longer and you have to hike until nighttime.
- Sun protection – Sun’s UV rays will be more extreme as you climb to higher altitudes. Make sure that your skin has sun protection by applying sunscreen and wear your sunglasses and hat too.
- Clothing – You should wear comfortable clothing that will allow your skin to breathe. Clothing made from synthetic fabrics is ideal as they wick away moisture.
- Footwear – Choosing the right footwear is one of the most important things when preparing for a hike. Make sure that you choose shoes or boots that fit well and provide support and comfort.
- Food and water – It’s important to bring enough food and water to keep your energy up during the hike. Dehydration and hunger can make hiking more difficult so make sure that you’re well-fueled before starting the hike
- Tools and repair kit – Tools that can come in handy on the trail are a multi-tool, a knife, and a repair kit. These can help you in case you need to make repairs on your gear or clothing.
- Shelter – A tent is the best shelter that you can bring on a hike. But if you’re going on a day hike, then a camping chair, tarp or emergency blanket will suffice.
- Personal items – Bring IDs and extra cash during the hike for emergency purposes.
Preparing for a hike requires more than just packing your backpack with the necessary gear. You also need to prepare your body and mind for the activity. By following the tips above, you can make sure that you’re physically and mentally prepared for your hike.