Ah, the great outdoors! A good hiking trip isn’t just great exercise, it’s a brilliant way to clear the mind, enjoy the countryside, and even experience things you wouldn’t normally get to see. From mountain hiking to coastal walks, hiking is one of the most accessible and enjoyable ways for almost anyone to get some exercise.
Beginners to hiking can sometimes find themselves weighed down with stacks of gear, or even under preparing themselves. Our hiking tips will make sure you’re ready for whatever the terrain throws at you.
Good Walking Shoes
Of course, you already know that you’re going to need a good pair of walking boots so don’t short yourself here. Choose a good sturdy pair of boots that are waterproof and can be securely tied up, with little room for rubbing. Popular brands include Scarpa, Merrell, Karrimor, and Salomon.
Make sure you try on your choice of a walking boot in the shop and make sure to wear them in before you take them out into the wild. Wearing them on short walks around your town will let you break them in and get a feel for any rubbing or pinching.
Check also if you need to apply a treatment such as wax or waterproofing to make sure your walking boots last as long as possible.
When you’re out and about you’ll want to be sure you have a backpack that is fit for purpose. However long you’re planning on going hiking you’ll need to have space for clothing layers, food supplies and items such as maps, compasses, battery packs for your devices and other sundries.
The ideal sized backpack for day hiking is around 20-35 litres. The bigger the bag, of course, the more you can fit in, but this also means more weight. A smaller bag means you’ll be forced to carry only the essentials so consider what you want from your hiking bag.
Make sure there is both a waist belt and a chest level belt. This means you can secure the backpack tighter to your body and avoid too much movement and spread the weight across your body.
Warm Up & Warm Down
Of course hiking is just walking, but actually, a big hike is quite a strain on your body. So in the same way you would prepare for a run or other strenuous exercise, it helps to warm up and warm down. Gentle stretches or ideally some yoga or pilates will help to loosen the joints and prepare your body for what is to come.
Plan Your Route
Any long distance hike should be planned first, especially if you’re heading into a particularly wild region. Wherever you’re thinking of going there will probably be a good map available, often with hiking trails marked, so plan your route well in advance.
Map out waypoints, give yourself a realistic timeframe to complete the distances and take into consideration things like adverse weather or blocked pathways. If the weather is bad you can find walkways blocked off by landslides or fallen trees, so make sure you know the alternatives.
Make sure you take your map with you on the hike and keep it in a waterproof case so that it doesn’t get soaked in the rain.
A good supply of high energy foods is essential to keep you going, especially if you’re getting away from civilization. There is a wide range of high energy foods you can buy for your hiking supplies, but you can also make your own! There are plenty of places online where you’ll find recipes for energy bars.
Don’t forget also to take a bottle of water (get a re-usable one such as Chillys) or if you’re going into the cold then make sure you have a nice hot drink packed in your day bag.
For clothing, bring layers so you can add or remove as you need. And, don’t forget waterproofs, suncream, and sunglasses!
Enjoy the Relaxation
After a hard day (or few days) trekking you’ll really feel it in your joints so make sure you’re prepared for the wind-down. You’ll no doubt be planning that delicious meal when you get back to base, but being comfortable help.
Make sure you have some bath salts and plenty of anti-inflammatory creams and gels to soothe the aches. A good pair of slippers and a dressing gown will also make a big difference to your comfort levels when you get back from your hike. A pair of woolly slippers is just what you need after a hard day on your feet.
Wherever you’re going, let somebody know where you’re going and when you’re expected back, take all your rubbish home with you and take time to enjoy your surroundings.